Though the temperatures will remain sweltering around here for quite a while longer, Fall is technically coming up soon, which means shorter days and back-to-school season for those among us with children. As if we weren’t already pressed for time by trying to make magic in 24 short hours, right? If you’re like me and trying to eat well, workout, stay hydrated, read, excel at work, keep up with friends and family, let your natural hair flourish, and not lose your mind, quick meals are key. None of us have hours to whip up multi-course meals on the regular. But we can’t eat all of our meals out, either. So what’s a girl to do? Start with this 20-minute salmon dinner, sis. Then check out my whole library of quick & easy meal ideas.
How to Prepare Salmon for Cooking
Seafood cooks up quickly (peep this 15-minute buttery cod) in comparison to other proteins such as poultry and meat. Salmon is no exception. It’s best to use fresh salmon, when possible and to let it set out on the counter for a bit in order to reach room temperature before cooking. To prepare the salmon for this 20-minute salmon dinner, start by squeezing a bit of fresh lemon juice over top then season simply with black pepper and sea salt. Now you’re ready to cook.
I actually prepare this meal for healthy workweek lunches but since it yields four servings, it’s also perfect for a weeknight family dinner. And did I mention that this is a one-pan dish? Easy meal + easy cleanup = more life! Drake said something along those lines, right? Anyway, this 20-minute salmon dinner makes for a light but filling meal of cooked salmon and tomatoes served over fresh spinach. To make it more substantial, add rice, quinoa, or more veggies of your choosing. For yet another solid option of what to serve with salmon, you might also try some really yummy naked pasta. I promise you, there’s not a wrong way to eat this salmon dinner because it’s so delicious.
How to Tell When Salmon is Done
The most fool-proof way to know when salmon is done is to use a meat thermometer. Salmon is safely cooked when the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit. The thing is, though, that the temperature of salmon continues to increase for a bit after being removed from heat. America’s Test Kitchen recommends stopping the cooking process at about 125 degrees for this reason. I don’t use a meat thermometer and have just learned to eyeball my salmon over time. If you don’t have a meat thermometer and are unsure, use a knife to separate one filet in the center. It should flake easily and be opaque.
Notes on this 20-Minute Salmon Dinner
- Be sure to use an oven-safe skillet. The whole thing should be metal and able to withstand high heat (broil setting is typically in the 500-degree arena. Cast iron is a safe bet. Here’s the skillet I use.
- You can toss in other veggies with the tomatoes and even pair this dish with rice to make it a more substantial meal.
- This 20-minute salmon dinner doubles or halves easily. To double the recipe, you’ll need to cook the salmon and tomatoes in two batches.
After you fall in love with your 20-minute salmon dinner, check out my tomato basil chicken and shimp & tomato pasta meals. They have similar flavor profiles and are quick, one-pan meals, too. 🙂 Thanks for reading!
Quick, fresh, and simple salmon meal with sweet and spicy baby tomatoes over fresh spinach
- 4 four-ounce portions of salmon
- juice of one lemon
- sea salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pint sweet baby tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic
- crushed red pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
Preheat oven to the broil setting. Mince garlic cloves and cut tomatoes into halves.
Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Allow to warm for about a minute then add garlic, tomatoes, and crushed red pepper to skillet.
Meanwhile, season salmon with sea salt, black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Set aside.
Cook tomatoes and garlic for about one minute then push them to the perimeter of the skillet, leaving space in the center. Add butter to center of pan and allow to melt.
Add salmon to space in center of pan and cook until edges start to become opaque (about 3 minutes).
To finish cooking, place pan in oven for about 8 minutes or until salmon is opaque and cooked through, and tomatoes are blistered. For safe consumption, the internal temperature of the salmon should reach 145 degrees. If you don't have a meat thermometer and are unsure, use a knife to separate one filet in the center. It should flake easily and be opaque.
Serve salmon and tomatoes over a bed of fresh spinach.