Salmon is one of our favorite proteins thanks to its stellar nutritional profile. Besides being incredibly versatile, it’s packed with good fats and a cocktail of powerful micronutrients, and has a mild, refreshing taste that can bring practically any salad to life. Even if you don’t normally like the “fishiness” of fish, you’ll love the subtle flavor of salmon, especially when it’s paired with the sweet goodness of oranges as we’ve done in our “Savory Citrus Salmon Salad” recipe.
An oh so delicious blend of salmon and orange chunks, complemented with citrus vinaigrette-dressed mesclun greens, creamy, crumbly blue cheese, perfectly crisp pecans and a little sprinkle of dried cranberries, this salad bowl is bursting with naturally sweet flavors and is unbelievably filling. Gluten-free, pescatarian-friendly and super easy to make, this Savory Citrus Salmon Salad comes together in about 25 minutes. We guarantee it’ll be your go-to bowl.
THE BALANCING ACT
Salmon and citrus are the perfect pair, especially orange which is the sweetest of all citrus fruits. The combination of fresh orange chunks with a citrus vinaigrette dressing really intensifies the naturally savory flavor of salmon – as does our paprika-based seasoning blend (see recipe card), which adds a delightfully tangy, spicy kick.
Now, if you’re watching your carb intake, it probably won’t take long for you to start counting sugars. Good call. There’s no denying that oranges (and their juice) are relatively high in sugar. But they’re also full of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps strengthen the immune system. When it comes to judging the healthiness of foods, That Salad Lady always encourages us to focus on the overall nutritional value of each ingredient. In this case, oranges are a win!
As with most of our salad recipes this one has multiple layers of ingredients so if you’re following a particular diet and choose to leave one or two ingredients out, we promise you’ll still have an enjoyable experience.
While you might choose to leave out the orange chunks to cut down on your sugar, perhaps you can try our dressing for a little taste of citrus. No need to baptize your bowl. Adding just a drizzle to the mesclun greens will bring rich, sweet flavors to the whole bowl. Using any more than that will overpower the ingredients and ruin your eating experience. Nonetheless, if you choose to leave out our dressing as well, just swap it with a vinaigrette dressing of your choice.
However, if your diet is more all-inclusive, by all means, give our dressing a try – and definitely add the orange chunks to the blend. The juicy citrus flavors really bring out the best in the bowl.
So, let’s talk more about what’s in our Savory Citrus Salmon Salad recipe and why.
Satisfyingly Savory Fats
If you follow That Salad Lady, you already know that fats are must-have ingredients in all our salad bowl recipes. Besides the fact that fats make everything taste better, they also help boost feelings of fullness and support the body’s ability to absorb many of the vitamins and antioxidants housed in other foods. In addition to salmon, our recipe also includes pecans for amazing texture and even more savory flavor.
In terms of which salmon to buy, we generally recommend Pacific (or wild-caught) varieties. But, if your budget doesn’t allow you to drop an extra $5-10 a pound to go wild don’t worry, farmed-raised salmon can be a healthy, safe and more affordable option. Our recipe specifically calls for sockeye (or red) salmon, as it delivers a hefty dose of omega-3 fatty acids and has a dense, meaty texture and rich, buttery flavor that makes really stand out in this salad bowl.
The addition of pecans brings a whole lot of yummy, healthy crunch to the blend. We recommend cooking or, more specifically, “toasting” them for added crunch (see recipe card).
For an even bigger flavor explosion we also include optional steps for candying the pecans. We emphasize that this process is totally “optional,” as it calls for using cinnamon and brown sugar, which’ll increase the overall sugar content of the recipe. However, if you have a nagging sweet tooth, it’s a great way to satisfy it.
Whether toasted or candied, pecans bring great texture, flavor and a hefty dose of monounsaturated fat to the blend. If you don’t have pecans, you can substitute equal amounts of walnuts.
Mesclun for Versatile Flavor
Our Savory Citrus Salmon Salad recipe calls for mesclun. Mesclun is not a specific type of leafy green but rather a potpourri of tender young greens. As with all greens, mesclun is rich in fiber and lots of disease-fighting micronutrients and phytonutrients. The mix of colors and textures in mesclun brings great vibrancy and volume to the salad bowl, and the different leaves offer multi-dimensional flavors from buttery and sweet to bitter and pleasantly pungent.
Since mesclun is chock-full of nutrients, and really the only veggie in this recipe, we say fill at least half your bowl with it. You can find mesclun greens at any supermarket and they’re very affordable. You might already have a package in your fridge (we bet you do). Got spring mix? Then you’ve got mesclun. So, here’s your chance to use it before it goes bad. Here at That Salad Lady, we aim to avoid food waste!
Plenty of Sweet for the Sweet
Among nature’s most perfect foods, fruits are always a quick, easy and healthy way to upgrade your salad bowl with a bit of sweetness. Our Savory Citrus Salmon Salad bowl is no exception. In addition to our citrus vinaigrette dressing, the recipe also calls for adding chunks of orange and a little sprinkle of dried cranberries. We know what you’re thinking, again. What about the sugar? That would be a good question – especially when it comes to the dried cranberries.
While dried cranberries can be a good source of fiber, vitamins and antioxidants, as with other dried fruits, they also contain a lot of sugar. That’s actually why they’re included here. The combination of orange chunks with a citrus vinaigrette dressing, cranberries and candied nuts (if you choose to use them) actually makes this the perfect blend for indulging sugar cravings when (and even before) they hit. The kiddos will enjoy it too!
In general, when it comes to eating fruits and other foods that are naturally high in sugar, That Salad Lady always recommends pairing them with protein and/or fat, as doing so helps to slow the rate at which the body digests and absorbs that sugar. The hearty combination of protein and fat in our Savory Citrus Salmon Salad totally fits the bill.
But you can always leave the dried cranberries as well as the orange chunks out, and just toast the pecans. It’s all about building your bowl, your way (remember this).
A Little Cheese to Hit the Spot
If you’re a fan of cheese, we highly recommend topping off our Savory Citrus Salmon Salad with some crumbly blue cheese. Besides the bold, sharp and tangy deliciousness it brings to the blend, blue cheese supplies a good dose of quality protein and probiotics, the “good bacteria” that supports digestive health. Just a little blue cheese goes a very long way. A single serving is just a mere ounce. If you eyeball it, it’s about the size of a ping-pong ball.
If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, you can easily substitute it for Gorgonzola or feta cheese crumbles. You can even use crumbled goat cheese if you’re dairy averse.
Sweet ‘n’ Tangy Dressing for the Finish
We round out the recipe with That Salad Lady’s homemade citrus vinaigrette dressing for a sweet ‘n’ tangy twang. Made with freshly squeeze orange juice, extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey and herbs, it’s the perfect blend to bring all the flavors together (see recipe card for more specifics). If you choose not to make it, a balsamic vinaigrette or another vinaigrette dressing of your choice will suffice. Remember, it’s all about building your bowl, your way.
A little bit of cooking is required for the: (1) salmon and (2) pecans. But we’re keeping it really simple and straightforward here.
The recipe calls for seasoning the salmon with our paprika-based seasoning blend, which’ll add a good spicy zing and plenty of rich, red color to the already red salmon. Once the salmon is all seasoned up, you’ll just pop it in the oven and bake it for 12-15 minutes at 375 degrees F. You can use the cooking and cooling time to prepare the rest of your ingredients.
Then there are the pecans, which you can either toast in the oven or candy on the stovetop. For toasting, just heat up the oven to 350 degrees F and bake them for 5-10 minutes. That’s it! Doesn’t get any simpler than this. Candying requires a bit more hands-on time, but the process is straightforward. Just combine some brown sugar and cinnamon in a skillet with a little water and then add the pecans. The total cooking time is less than five minutes (see recipe card).
If you’re using our citrus vinaigrette dressing, we recommend mixing it while the salmon is cooking. All you’ll need to do is add all the ingredients to your blender or food processor. With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth. That’s it!
If you don’t have a blender or a food processor, simply add all the ingredients to a jar with a twist off lid or even a bowl and just shake or whisk until everything’s well-mixed.
BUILD YOUR SALAD BOWL
Once all the cooked ingredients are prepared, the hard work is done. Whether you use our citrus vinaigrette dressing or another type, we recommend tossing your mesclun greens with dressing prior to preparing the salad. Mesclun greens have good zest and flavor on their own so there’s no need to drown them in dressing. In a large bowl, just drizzle a little on the greens (no more than a tablespoon or two) and toss them using salad spoons, tongs or your gloved hands.
From there, divide the greens evenly between 2-4 salad bowls or plates, and top them with the salmon, orange chunks, pecans and sprinkles of crumbled blue cheese and dried cranberries.
This delicioThis deliciously sweet and wholesome Savory Citrus Salmon Salad makes up to four satisfying servings. Don’t be alarmed by the final calorie tally, as the blend is packed with lots of “functional ingredients” (visit our Nutrition Glossary to better understand why this matters). But, again, you can always build your bowl with whatever layers you choose. Your rules, your way!
SHOW US YOUR BOWL
That Salad Lady wants to see your bowl! If you like it, which we are sure you will, drop a comment below and tag pics on Instagram with @thatsaladlady, #thatsaladlady and #buildyourbowl. If you love it, pin it on Pinterest and share it on Facebook and Twitter using #thatsaladlady.
Savory Citrus Salmon SaladCourse: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Moderate
Gluten-free, pescatarian-friendly and incredibly satisfying, our “Savory Citrus Salmon Salad” recipe comes together in 25 minutes. It’ll be your go-to bowl!
- Base Salad Blend
6-8 cups mesclun greens*
2 medium oranges, cut into chunks**
1 cup raw pecans (raw walnuts also work), halved or chopped, toasted or candied***
3/4 blue cheese crumbles (Gorgonzola, feta or goat cheese also work)
1/2 cup dried cranberries or Craisins®
- Salmon & Seasoning Blend
16 ounces sockeye salmon with skin, cut into two 1/2-inch-thick fillets***
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon dried parsley
- Base for Candied Pecans (Optional)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 pinches ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon water
- Citrus Vinaigrette Dressing
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Bake the Salmon
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the paprika, garlic powder, pepper and salt. This will be the salmon seasoning blend.
- Season the fillets with the seasoning blend and then place them on a non-stick baking sheet, a lightly greased baking pan or a skillet with the skin sides down.
- Bake the fillets uncovered for 12-15 minutes or until they flake easily when tested with a fork and then remove them from the oven.
- Carefully slip a spatula between the fillets and their skins (one at a time), lift them off and transfer them to a plate. The skins will stick and can be discarded later.
- Candy the Pecans (Optional)
- Combine all the base ingredients in a skillet and cook them over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to bubble (1-2 minutes).
- Throw in the pecans and cook the mixture for a few more minutes, stirring continuously to fully coat the pecans.
- Remove the candied pecans from the heat and spread them out on parchment paper or foil until they completely cool.
- Prepare the Dressing
- If using our citrus vinaigrette dressing, start by simply adding all the ingredients to your blender or food processor. With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth.
- If you don’t have a blender or a food processor, simply add all the ingredients to a jar with a twist off lid or even a bowl and just shake or whisk until everything’s well-mixed.
- Our dressing can be substituted for a balsamic vinaigrette or another vinaigrette dressing if you wish.
- Build the Salad
- Coat the mesclun greens with dressing and toss them using a pair of salad spoons, tongs or your gloved hands. You can store any extra homemade dressing in a tightly covered container for up to 10 days.
- Divide the greens evenly between 2-4 salad bowls or plates, and top them with the salmon, orange chunks, pecans and sprinkles of crumbled blue cheese and dried cranberries.
- *A 50/50 mix (baby spinach and spring mix), field greens or any other mesclun blend can be used.
- **We recommend using sweet orange varieties for this recipe. We used Cara Cara navel oranges, which are red fleshed, but use can use regular navel, blood or even mandarin oranges if that’s what you have.
- ***Toast pecans by simply baking them on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes or until they’re golden brown. Check the pecans frequently as they burn easily and quickly.
- ****Sockeye salmon fillets can be easily replaced with any other wild-caught salmon or farm-raised salmon fillets.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate. Please review our full disclaimer to get a clear understanding of the nutrition and health information and resources presented and written on our website.