This pan-seared salmon recipe is simmered with a reduced-fat creamy mushroom and garlic sauce that is bursting with flavor and omega-3 fatty acids. It incorporates baby spinach into the sauce, so you have a one-pot, healthy seafood meal to serve for dinner.
Before I dive into this post, I want to first thank Sitka Salmon Shares for delivering the salmon used in this recipe, right to my front door. This is not a sponsored post, and I was not paid, but they did send me a FREE share box, filled with wild Alaskan salmon and information on how their program works. I love seafood, so it was a welcomed delivery. The fish was absolutely amazing.
My Personal Experience With Fish
When I turned 16, I worked as a waitress at a steak restaurant. It wasn’t long after I started that the business was sold to a young couple. The new owners inherited the staff, so I kept my job, but they had a different idea of what the menu would be. The family-friendly steak house was soon known for its fresh fish.
Growing up, I didn’t eat a lot of seafood. My parents were not big fish eaters, so I didn’t have much exposure to it. That changed very quickly with the new restaurant. As a server at the new fish grotto, part of my job was knowing the menu. The owners required us to know the preparation method for all of the menu items, including the taste. Every Friday, during our weekly server meetings, we were served a different fish. I went from rarely eating fish to eating it a few times a week. That experience opened my world to the amazing taste of seafood.
Wild Alaskan Salmon
The American Heart Association recommends eating 2 (3.5 ounce) servings of fish, particularly fatty fish, each week. Salmon is one those fatty fishes. The main reason for this recommendation is that fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids – the fats often referred to as healthy fats. I don’t want to spend tons of time talking about omega-3’s specifically in this post, but getting enough of them in your diet is important. If you’re not familiar, check out my post Omega-3’s and Your Health.
Unfortunately, most Americans don’t meet that recommendation. I’ve had clients tell me that salmon tastes too “fishy.” Some people just don’t feel comfortable cooking fish. If you’re one of these people, this recipe was made for you.
Salmon shouldn’t taste fishy, but it definitely has a unique flavor. White fish, like cod and tilapia, tend to have a mild flavor, while salmon has a much deeper flavor. The taste of salmon can vary based on the type. How the fish was processed also plays a part in how it tastes.
I used Coho wild Alaskan salmon in this recipe, which tends to have a milder flavor than other varieties, but you can use any fresh salmon to make it. If you’ve been hesitant to try salmon, this recipe is a great way to try it. The mushroom cream sauce disguises the taste of the fish, making it palatable for those that struggle with the taste. If you love salmon, you’ll love this recipe. Even if you don’t love salmon, you’ll love this recipe!
How To Cook Pan-Seared Salmon
There are two steps to this recipe – pan-searing the salmon and making the cream sauce. The first step is to cook the salmon. You’ll want to cut the salmon fillet into 3.5 ounce pieces, then pat it dry. Once you have it prepared, heat the oil in a skillet, and sear the salmon on both sides.
I like to cook the salmon with the skin on, but you can remove the skin first if you prefer. Searing the skin makes it much easier to remove when you are ready. Once the oil is warm, place the salmon pieces in the skillet, skin side down, and sear for ~7 minutes. This will cook the salmon more than half of the way through, so when you flip it, you won’t have to cook the flesh side as long. After the skin side is cooked, flip it over and sear the flesh side. Now is when you should remove the skin. Use a fork to lift one corner of the skin, then peel it away.
Allow the flesh side of the salmon to cook for ~4 minutes, then flip it again so that both sides of the salmon fillet are browned. Once the salmon is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside. Don’t rinse the pan, though. You can use the juices left from the salmon to make the mushroom garlic sauce.
Making Creamy Mushroom and Garlic Sauce
Let me start by saying, I’ve never been one for cream sauces. That’s another thing I didn’t eat growing up, and I never had the urge to cook it – until recently. Pinterest is filled with cream sauce based recipes that look absolutely delicious, but once I read the ingredients – heavy cream, butter, cheese, I immediately get turned away. Don’t get me wrong, I eat all three of those ingredients. I like butter and cheese and enjoy eating ice cream, too. I’m mindful of how I eat in one serving, though.
I’ve had delicious cream sauce based meals at restaurants, but I usually don’t feel good after eating them. Probably because they are calorically dense, and my body just isn’t used to eating that way.
I searched for lower fat cream sauce recipes on the web, but I didn’t find anything that sounded appetizing. That’s why I decided to experiment and make my own.
Greek yogurt was the first ingredient that came to my mind. If you have tried my other recipes, you probably noticed I use Greek yogurt a lot. It works great as a substitute for higher fat foods, and it adds a creamy and thick consistency to many dishes. The problem is, heating yogurt can cause it to curdle, and curdled cream sauce is just gross! The key to cooking it right is keeping the temperature low and constant stirring! It also helps to combine it with a fat source.
Most cream sauces are made with heavy cream, but I chose half and half instead. This small substitution significantly reduces the fat while still providing some to help it turn out right. Instead of using 1 cup of half and half, I used ½ cup original half and half creamer, and ½ cup of the fat-free version. To make this cream sauce, combine both types of half and half with the Greek yogurt. Stir it well, then set it aside until you are ready to cook it.
Melt 1 tbsp of butter in the same pan that you cooked the salmon. The butter will combine with the other juices, and be the start of your creamy sauce. Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter until softened. After the garlic and onions are cooked, reduce heat to low, and slowly stir the crème mixture to the pan. I suggest using a whisk and make sure you are stirring the crème sauce constantly. Next, add the mushrooms and Parmesan cheese, stirring constantly until the mixture is simmering.
The last step is to stir the spinach leaves into the sauce, allowing them to soften and wilt. Simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the salmon fillets back to the pan. Spoon the crème sauce over the salmon fillets, then add the fresh chopped parsley and thyme.
Now, your pan-seared salmon with mushroom and garlic sauce is ready to eat. Each serving consists of a 3.5 ounces salmon fillet, 1 cup of cooked spinach and mushroom garlic sauce. You can eat it alone, or serve with a side of rice, quinoa, noodles or another vegetable.
I’ve been so excited to share this recipe with you. I hope you love it as much as I do.
Pan-Seared Salmon with Creamy Mushroom & Garlic Sauce
- 14 ounces salmon fillet, raw
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup half and half creamer (for the sauce)
- 1/2 cup fat-free half & half creamer (for the sauce)
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, fat-free (for the sauce)
- 10 medium mushrooms, sliced (for the sauce)
- 1 tbsp butter (for the sauce)
- 6 cloves garlic, finely diced (for the sauce)
- 1 small onion, finely diced (for the sauce)
- 4 cups baby spinach leaves, fresh (for the sauce)
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (for the sauce)
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (for the sauce)
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped (for the sauce)
- 1/4 tsp pepper (for the sauce)
- 1/4 tsp salt (for the sauce)
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Pat the salmon fillets dry, then season flesh side with salt and pepper. Sear in the hot oil, skin side down, for ~7 minutes, then flip salmon fillets and sear the flesh side. While the flesh side is down, use a fork to peel the skin off of the top of the salmon. (Searing the skin first makes it easier to remove.) After ~4 minutes, flip again so that both sides have a chance to brown. Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside.
- The pan should still have some juices in it from the salmon. Add butter to it, and warm over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and onion in the butter.
- In a separate bowl, combine the half and half, the fat free half and half and the Greek yogurt. Stir until well combined.
- Once the garlic and onions are cooked, reduce heat to low, and add the crème mixture to the pan, then add the mushrooms and Parmesan cheese. Stir constantly until simmering. Once simmering, add spinach leaves and stir into the sauce, allowing them to wilt and cook. Simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the salmon fillets back to the pan. Spoon the crème sauce over the salmon fillets, add fresh chopped parsley and thyme, and serve.
- Recipe Makes: 4 Servings
- Serving Size: 3.5 oz piece of salmon.
- Nutrition Facts (per serving): 350 Calories, 20 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 31 g protein, 16 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 410 mg sodium, 15% % DV Calcium, 15% DV Potassium, 15% DV Iron.
- Meal Planning Servings: 1.5 CHO; 4 PRO; 3 FAT
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