Roasted salmon is a great main course because it always seems a little fancy yet is surprisingly easy to prepare. And of course it’s delicious! This recipe keeps things simple with a three-ingredient honey-lime dressing that does double duty: it marinates the fish, and then dresses the bean salad.
My Easy Dinner Formula
More often than not, our dinners are pretty straightforward, consisting of a protein, a vegetable, and a carb. If I have my act together, I’ll find a way to tie it all together, like here in this recipe, where I use the honey lime dressing to both marinate the salmon and dress the bean salad. And if I can take it one step further and find a way to unite the vegetable and the carb into a single “dish,” like here with the beans, carrots, and radishes, then I consider it a pretty polished meal and give myself a pat on the back. So I was proud to put this dinner on the table, and I think you will be too.
Black Bean Salad
The bean salad is nicely balanced: the feta is salty and the radishes peppery; the beans are tender and the vegetables crunchy. And the honey lime dressing is super simple with just three ingredients that you probably already have on hand: honey, lime, and olive oil. This is a salad that goes really well on the side of tacos, incorporating vegetables into the traditional side of beans. I usually make enough to have leftovers for the next day’s lunch, which I’ll serve over some brown rice and/or top with an over-easy egg.
About the Carrots and Radishes
If you’re starting with cooked beans, either from a can or that you’ve previously prepared, the only real work here is chopping the carrots and radishes. I prefer whole carrots to baby carrots; I find the improved flavor and texture of whole carrots worth the effort of peeling and chopping myself. I buy whole carrots and love purple and yellow varieties in addition to orange. I peel them then slice them as thinly as I can crosswise so I end up with paper-thin coin-shaped bites. As for the radishes, you can usually buy them by the bunch. You’ll rinse them and hold on to the stem while you slice them similarly to the carrots, very thinly and into rounds. Toss the stems.
The slicing of carrots and radishes would be the perfect task for a mandoline. But I actually don’t own one because I’m terrified of slicing off my finger… although I’m pretty sure they have handguards to make sure this doesn’t happen. Let me know if you have one you love and maybe some day I’ll summon the courage!
How to Choose Salmon
- Fresh or frozen? I usually buy frozen salmon because a) it’s often cheaper, and b) even “fresh” salmon has usually been flash-frozen after being caught, and then defrosted by the store where you buy it, and c) I try to minimize the number of times per week I have to shop for groceries, so buying fresh salmon and using it immediately is not always practical. But storing it in the freezer and defrosting a few hours before dinner is.
- Wild or farmed? If you can afford it and have access to wild, that’s the best choice. In farmed pens, salmon can get parasites, they are often treated with antibiotics, and they can spread disease to wild fish (here’s a horrifying example). There is hope though: various countries and organizations are working on sustainable aquaculture systems, which may one day safely protect ocean fish stocks. As we consumers become more aware of food safety and sustainability, this movement will hopefully gain traction.
- My pick: Right now, my favorite salmon to buy is the frozen Wild Coho Salmon from Trader Joe’s. Coho Salmon is which is milder in flavor than other varieties, so it’s more palatable for the kids. I also like the Trader Joe’s Sockeye Salmon, which works well on the grill.
Easy Roasted Salmon
The salmon marinates quickly in just 15-30 minutes, and then roasts in the oven so you are free to to finish up the bean salad and clean up the kitchen. Hands-free cooking is the best kind!
But make sure to watch the salmon because it cooks quickly. A general rule of thumb is 4-6 minutes per half-inch of thickness. You’ll know it’s done roasting when it flakes easily, or the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.
And of course you can just as easily switch out the roasted salmon for chicken thighs, mahi mahi, tri tip, etc… whatever protein you’re in the mood for. If using chicken, pork, or beef, increase the marinating time to a few hours. But you can roast it similarly to the salmon, at 400 degrees until done. Here are some tips on using a digital cooking thermometer to achieve perfect (and perfectly easy!) roasted protein in the oven.
Roasted Salmon and Black Bean Salad
Salmon is a great protein because, in addition to its many health benefits, it always seems a little fancy yet is surprisingly easy to prepare. And of course it’s delicious! This recipe keeps thing simple with a three-ingredient honey-lime dressing that does double duty: it marinates the fish, and then dresses the bean salad.
Honey Lime Dressing
- 3 TB olive oil
- 3 TB lime juice 1 small
- 2 TB honey
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 pound of salmon fillets
Black Bean Salad
- 3 ½ cups cooked black beans
- 1 bunch radishes sliced thinly into rounds
- 4 medium carrots sliced thinly into rounds
- 4 ounces feta
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves cleaned and chopped
Mix together ingredients for the honey lime dressing. I like to shake it together in a small mason jar, but you can also whisk it together in a small bowl. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust to suit your tastes.
Line a baking sheet with foil. Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel, and place fillets on baking sheet. Use ⅓ of the marinade (about 2 ½ tablespoons) to coat the salmon on both sides (although if one side has skin, just coat the top). Put the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes while salmon soaks up the marinade.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Prepare the bean salad: mix together the beans, radishes, carrots, cilantro, and dressing (save a pinch of cilantro leaves for a finishing touch when you’re plating the meal). Fold in feta cheese. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
When salmon has finished marinating and the oven is fully heated, put the baking sheet with the salmon fillets into the oven on the middle rack. Roast for 6-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets. The salmon is done cooking when it flakes easily or the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.
Plate the bean salad with the salmon. Sprinkle a few extra leaves of cilantro over the top and serve.
I always try to keep ingredient lists to a minimum, but here are a few extras that would be great in the bean salad: (1) diced, roasted butternut squash, (2) diced avocado, (3) fresh corn cut off the cob, (4) chopped red onion, and (5) seeded, minced jalapeno.