Three simple salmon recipes worthy of the kitchen table

In 2016 an unfortunate statistic was reported; for the first time in history Americans spent more money eating out than they did on groceries. Unfortunate for a multitude of reasons, one being that the expansion of the American mid-section is largely attributed to meals prepared outside the home. Google it, I don’t make this stuff up.

I love a meal out as much as the next person but cooking doesn’t have to be complicated, folks. To prove it, here are three variations of salmon paired with three different wines (two super foods joining forces to return dinnertime to the kitchen).

Wine: 2011 Tarì Irpinio Aglianico (Taurasi)

Some wine writers are more traditional, some are a little edgy. Pairing aglianico with salmon is certainly unconventional but the smokiness imparted from grilling and the smoky and floral notes of the paprika make an atypical suggestion an intriguing combination. Racy acidity and bracing tannins are calmed in older vintages and a little breathing time before drinking. My Texas friends would say aglianico pairs better with brisket but this Northwest twist is admirable.

Smoked Paprika Grilled Salmon

¼ C orange juice

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp thyme leaves, divided

1 ¼ lb salmon fillets

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp grated orange peel

½ tsp sea salt

Mix juice, 2 Tbsp oil and 1 tsp of thyme in 9”x13” glass baking dish. Add salmon, turn to coat. Cover. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Mix sugar, remaining spices and orange peel. Remove salmon from marinade and dispose of marinade. Rub top of salmon evenly with spice mixture and place on preheated, generously oiled grill for about six minutes on each side. Serves 4-6.

Photo error: Pair Mustard-Crusted Salmon with Pinot Gris for best match. Viki Eierdam
Photo error: Pair Mustard-Crusted Salmon with Pinot Gris for best match. Viki Eierdam

Wine: 2015 Kudos Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley)

The creamy, slightly zesty notes of the mustard sauce mingle nicely with the rich texture of this white. Welcomes with stone fruit to mandarin orange on the palate and plenty of acid follow through to keep it lively.

Mustard Crusted Salmon

1 1/4 lb salmon fillets

¼ tsp salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ C low-fat yogurt (or sour cream)

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp lemon juice

Place salmon, skin-side down in lightly oiled 9”x15” glass baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Combine yogurt, mustard and lemon juice in a small bowl. Spread evenly over salmon. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serves 4-6.

Wine: 2011 Leone D’Oro Chianti Classico Riserva (Chianti)

Made predominantly from sangiovese grapes, this is on the dry side with black cherry and tobacco notes. The fattiness from the pecans and salmon match the acidity of this wine while the seasonings play with the spiciness of the Chianti. Oak aging brings out a hint of nuttiness on the finish.

Photo error: Pair Pecan Crusted Salmon with Chianti for best flavor match. Viki Eierdam
Photo error: Pair Pecan Crusted Salmon with Chianti for best flavor match. Viki Eierdam

Pecan Crusted Salmon

1 1/4 lb salmon fillets

4 Tbsp pecan meal

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

¼ tsp lemon pepper

¼ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp Johnny’s seasoning salt

To make pecan meal, process pecans in a blender on low. Store unused pecan meal in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Mix pecan meal, olive oil and four seasonings in a small bowl.  Place salmon, skin-side down in a lightly oiled 9”x 15” glass baking dish. Coat the top of the salmon fillet with pecan mixture. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serves 4-6.