Want some omega-3s with that lean protein? Whether you’re a fish-cooking virgin or simply need some salmon recipes that don’t feel stale, we’ve got you covered.
Macey Hall 1 / 7
Salmon is one of those protein foods that you already know is good for you. But do you know just how good? Here, study up:
Salmon packs some pretty serious protein (25 grams per serving), yet it’s low in the unhealthy saturated fat that plagues many other hardcore protein sources.
Salmon also protects against heart disease, thanks to omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to do everything from decrease triglyceride levels to lower blood pressure.
Some even call salmon a “brain food"—research has shown the fatty acids DHA and EPA may boost your memory and cognition.
So what should you buy at the grocery store? “Fresh is great if you can get it,” but no sweat—frozen varieties work too, says nutritionist and healthy cooking expert Robyn Youkilis. She just advises that—if you can get fresh salmon—look for varieties harvested as close to home as possible, and opt for wild salmon over the farmed kind. (Believe it or not, wild has a 20 percent higher protein count.)Like most fatty fish, salmon does contain mercury, but you can safely eat it twice a week. (Whew.) So here are six easy ways to prep it—try them all this month and cash in on the benefits.
1. Seared Salmon with Spinach
Do your body and taste buds solid and cook this fish correctly. First, coat it with salt, pepper, and olive oil, then sear it for a few minutes on each side. How do you know it’s done? “Salmon should actually be cooked medium,” says Youkilis. “You want the center to be a little glossy and still bright pink in hue.” For a complete meal, pair it with sautéed spinach—just cook about cups spinach in a pan with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, until spinach is wilted. (You can also try this recipe for Baked Salmon with Sauteed Spinach.)
2. Salmon Burger
Equally as tasty as their red meat counterparts, salmon burgers are leaner—and maybe even more satisfying. Just combine 1 cup finely chopped red onion, ¼ cup sliced fresh basil, ¼ teaspoon of both salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon hot sauce, and 1 large egg white. Fold in a one pound skinned and chopped salmon fillet, mixing well to combine. Divide mixture into four patties, and grill over medium heat for three minutes on each side. Serve on a whole-grain roll. (You can also find a great recipe for Wasabi Salmon Burgers here.)
3. Salmon Salad Sandwich
You’ve done tuna and chicken salad to death, so how about switching it up with salmon? For a fool-proof, protein-packed recipe, mix 2 cups of canned salmon, 2 hard-boiled eggs, 1 diced bell pepper, ½ cup chopped onions, ½ squeezed lemon, 4 tablespoons of Greek yogurt (for a lower-fat version than the traditional mayo variety), and salt and pepper to taste. And if you want to spice things up—literally—add ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Serve in a whole-wheat pita or on whole-wheat bread.
4. Poached Salmon
Sure, it seems gourmet, but poached salmon is surprisingly easy to make. Simply bring water to a boil with some carrots, celery, onion, lemon juice, dill and any other seasonings of choice; cook for about eight minutes. Next, lower to a simmer and add salt and pepper-seasoned fillets, then cook for an additional five minutes. If you want to get extra fancy and make a meal out of it, nutrient-rich sides like Brussels sprouts, grilled artichokes, or peppers or mushrooms (sautéed lightly in oil) pair well—or you could simply serve it over salad greens and asparagus. (You can also try this recipe for Poached Salmon with Tzatziki Sauce.)
5. Smoked Salmon and Eggs
Skip sausage and bacon and get your morning dose of protein in a healthy—yet equally delicious—way. All you have to do is buy pre-packaged smoked salmon, then serve it with scrambled eggs and onions. (Mix it in, or plop it all on top of whole-wheat toast or half a whole-wheat bagel—it’s up to you.) Easy, we know.
6. Mustard-Glazed Salmon
While Youkilis’ glazed salmon recipe is easy enough to execute on a weeknight, it’s sure to impress your weekend dinner date too. Simply place salmon pieces on a lined baking sheet, generously season with salt and pepper, and coat each piece with 1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard. Next, roast for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Drizzle a small amount of maple syrup or honey directly over fish pieces, then add squeezed lemon juice. Return to oven, baking another five to 10 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish).