We live in a house divided. No, not by love, and not by politics, but by salmon. Yup, salmon is the hottest of hot-button topics in our family.
Back in the day, my brother and father would spend the summers fishing in Alaska and they’d return with a bounty of seafood that would put Long John Silver’s to shame. I’m talking ice chest upon ice chest filled to the brim with all sorts of goodies — snow crabs, halibut, and seemingly never-ending amounts of salmon. The freezer would be packed for months, which was awesome for a salmon-lover like me, but not so much for my older sister. She got so over salmon that serving it to her would be like a food-form of Chinese water torture.
After years off, my brother and father are headed back north this summer to take the grandchildren on their first fishing trip. And, for those of us in my family who still heart salmon big time, we can’t wait to get together without those “others” and eat to our hearts’ content. The recipe I’m most excited to cook is this Paprika Grilled Salmon Spring Salad, which has a spiced-rubbed salmon that marinates for a few hours and then gets grilled or broiled — depending upon the weather and how motivated we’re feeling. Flaked and served over a seasonal salad, it makes for a seriously healthy weeknight dinner.
Paprika Grilled Salmon Salad Recipe
Make The Vinaigrette:
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
- 2 teaspoons unrefined cane sugar
- kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
For The Salad:
- 8 ounces assorted fingerling potatoes
- 1 cup shelled English peas
- 8 ounces medium asparagus ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
- 1 medium fennel bulb
- 5 handfuls baby arugula
- 1/2 lemon
For The Paprika Salmon:
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound salmon fillets
- For The Dijon Vinaigrette: Combine red wine vinegar, the lemon juice, and shallot in a medium nonreactive bowl and set aside at least 5 minutes before using. Whisk in Dijon mustard, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the sugar, a pinch of salt, and pepper until smooth. While whisking constantly, add oil in a thin stream until well incorporated. Taste and add more salt, sugar, or pepper as desired.TIP: Vinaigrette can be made up to four days ahead. Store refrigerated in an airtight container. May need to bring to room temperature and shake to incorporate before using.
- For The Potatoes: Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover by 1 inch with heavily salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium-high and boil until potatoes are knife tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add asparagus and peas and cook 2 to 3 more minutes until they’re bright green and knife tender.
- Drain everything into a fine mesh strainer and run under cold water to cool off. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half, toss potatoes, peas, and asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil and set aside until ready to use. TIP: Vegetables can be prepared up to 1 day ahead.
- Prepare The Fennel: Trim tops off the fennel, quarter and core it and then using a mandoline, slice paper thin. Toss it with the remaining lemon juice and a pinch of salt and set aside until ready to use. Pluck a few sprigs of fennel fronds and save for garnish.
- For The Salmon: Combine paprika, remaining 1 teaspoon sugar, and salt in a bowl and mix well. Pat salmon dry and rub with the spice mixture. Allow to marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Let sit at least 15 minutes at room temperature before cooking.
- Cook The Salmon: Heat an outdoor grill or grill pana to medium (about 350°F to 450°F) and rub the grill grates with a towel dipped in vegetable oil. Using another paper towel, remove excess rub, and pat dry on both sides of the fish. Drizzle over 1 tsp of canola oil and rub all over the fish. Place the salmon on the grill, and cover the grill. Cook, flipping once, until grill marks appear and salmon turns opaque pink, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
- Assemble The Salad: Remove from grill, tent with foil, and let rest a few minutes. Flake the salmon into bite-sized pieces and season with a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. To serve, divide arugula among bowls, evenly divide asparagus, peas, potatoes, and fennel. Drizzle with vinaigrette and top each plate with the salmon and a few sprigs of fennel fronds.