Pan-Seared Salmon with Quinoa and Roasted Asparagus


Make these recipes and your family will take a moment to appreciate the deliciousness you have brought to the table. First up is the pan-seared salmon, which is practically swimming in flavor. This blend of herbs and spices will have your crew salivating like Pavlov’s dogs.

Then there’s the quinoa with toasted pistachios. I know what you’re thinking: “Quinoa? Isn’t that the stuff they give to rabbits?” But trust me, this dish is anything but boring. The crunch of the pistachios is a game-changer, and you’ll be asking yourself why you didn’t try this combo sooner.

Finally, the roasted asparagus with lemon salt is a standout. The lemon salt is the secret ingredient that takes this dish to the next level, giving the asparagus a zesty tang and enhancing its natural flavor.

Even my very picky eater loves this meal. I hope your family does, too.

Pan-Seared Salmon

Photo by Melissa Spelts

4 4 oz. Salmon filets, skin intact.
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1⁄2 Tbsp. Garlic salt
1⁄2 Tbsp. Seasoned salt
1⁄2 Tbsp. Celery salt
1 Tbsp. Paprika
1 Tbsp. Celery seed
1 Tbsp. Parsley
2 Tbsp. Dill weed
1 tsp. Lemon salt (see recipe below)

  1. Preheat a 12” cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and then add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. Swirl to coat.
  2. Sprinkle all seasonings on top of the salmon (skin-side down), making sure to begin with the salt and end with the dill weed. Be generous with the dill. Dill and salmon are best friends. Lightly pat the herbs and seasonings into the salmon.
  3. When the oil shimmers, add salmon filets to the skillet, skin-side down. Sear for four minutes, then turn filet on its side and sear for 2 minutes. Flip to other side and sear for 2 minutes. Flip back to skin-side down, cover, and sear for 2-4 more minutes or until topside is just done. Less time is usually better, depending on the size and shape of your fillet.
  4. Place cooked salmon filets on a plate and finish each with a pinch of lemon salt on top.

NOTE 1: We are not using any kind of a binder here (the salmon has enough oil in it to keep everything together), so be sure to pat the seasonings in so they do not fall off when flipping the filets.

NOTE 2: Salmon filets are best when they cook with a range of doneness. Larger filets are thicker where the main body of the fish was and thinner closer to the belly. None of it should be cooked to the point of drying out; however, thinner areas should be more done than the thicker areas, which should be medium-rare to medium when done.

Quinoa with Toasted Pistachios

Photo by Cindy Jones

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained.
2 tsp. olive oil (extra virgin not necessary)
2 Tbsp. finely diced shallot
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 1⁄4 cups unsalted chicken stock
1⁄4 cup pistachios
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil to heated saucepan and swirl to coat.
  2. Once oil is shimmering, add shallots and kosher salt; sauté 1 minute or until tender. Add minced garlic and cook until soft and fragrant (about 1 minute), stirring constantly. Do not overcook garlic, it burns easily!
  3. Stir in quinoa to coat and sauté until just starting to change color and you can smell a hint of the quinoa (approximately 2 minutes), stirring frequently.
  4. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 13 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender.
  5. While quinoa cooks, place a small cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once skillet is heated, add pistachios to pan and heat for about 3 minutes or until browned, shaking skillet and tossing frequently.
  6. Place toasted pistachios in a small electric food processor and pulse until pistachios are roughly chopped.
  7. Combine quinoa mixture, pistachios (reserve a few for garnish), 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, parsley and pepper; toss to combine. After plating, garnish with a slight drizzle of olive oil, parsley flakes, and a few pistachios.

NOTE: This is also delicious with pine nuts instead of pistachios.

Roasted Asparagus

Photo by Melissa Spelts

1 lb. Asparagus, woody bottoms trimmed off
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1⁄2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
Zest of 1/3 lemon
1⁄2 tsp. lemon salt (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Toss asparagus in olive oil. Place asparagus on cooling rack to sprinkle kosher salt and pepper. Sprinkle lemon zest onto asparagus. Place cooling rack with asparagus directly on middle rack of oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until tips of spears begin to burn slightly. Place asparagus on plate and finish with a sprinkle of lemon salt on top.

Lemon Salt

Photo by Cindy Jones

Zest of 3 lemons
3 Tbsp. high-quality coarse salt (such as Malden, or high-quality sea salt, or coarse kosher salt)

Crush lemon zest and salt together in a mortar and pestle until broken down, well-combined, and fragrant. Stored in an airtight container, it will keep for 2-3 weeks.

Meet our Contributor

Dan Deuel is a quick-witted, politically active music and science geek who enjoys cooking. When he’s not dropping things, forgetting key ingredients, slipping and falling, or burning himself in the kitchen, he enjoys the same things everyone else does. Like, family, friends, and laughter.

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