Battle Salmon

How do I decide which Barefoot recipe I am going to tackle for the week?  Well, a great deal hinges on how much free time I have, but I also consider what’s in season and what’s on sale.  With it being summer, the heat of the day begs for a light dinner and fish seems appropriate.  Henry’s had wild Alaskan salmon on sale this past week so I flipped through Ina’s most recent cookbook, Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That? and found, not one, but two salmon recipes!  They had similar ingredients but different cooking applications so I thought, “Hey, let’s tackle both!”  I was planning to meet my friend Dani out for dinner on Friday night, but when I asked if she wanted to change the location to my place, she was all in.  I guess it’s a good sign when your friends would rather eat your food than go out to dinner at a restaurant…

Dueling salmon filets!

Let’s start with the Roasted Salmon with Green Herbs.  The recipe calls for a skinless salmon filet while the other recipe calls for skin-on.  I cut each recipe in half so used about one pound for each.  It had already taken me 20 minutes to pull out the pesky pin bones from the two pounds of salmon, with my good tweezers too!  Quite frankly, I was already irritated and I wasn’t about to try my hand at taking the skin off.   I’ve also heard leaving the skin on helps keep the juices in while it’s cooking.  Soooooo let’s pretend that’s the reason I left the skin on and not concentrate on the ease at which I become irritated.  Basic gist of this recipe: baking dish, marinate, sprinkle with herbs, put in oven = EASY!

Roasted Salmon with Green Herbs (courtesy of Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa:  How Easy is That?)


  • 1 (2-2.5 lb) skinless salmon fillet
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil 
  • 2 TBSP fresh squeezed lemon juice 
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions, white and green parts 
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh dill 
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley 
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Lemon wedges for serving 
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place the salmon fillet in a glass, ceramic, or stainless steel roasting dish and season it generously with salt and pepper.  Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice and drizzle the mixture oevenly over the salmon.  Let it stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Just marinating...

In a small bowl, stir together the herbs.  Scatter the herb mixture over the salmon.  Pour the wine around the fish.

Lots o' herbs!

Roast the salmon for 10-12 minutes, until almost cooked in the center at the thickest part.  The center will be firm with just a line of uncooked salmon in the very center.  Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Now, onto the winner of the battle:  Panko-Crusted Salmon.  Something about the crispy skin and the crunchy topping sets this salmon above the other, but they’re both delicious.  Starting this salmon in a cast iron skillet is a MUST.  This is what gets the skin potato chip crispy.  


Panko-Crusted Salmon (courtesy of Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa:  How Easy is That?)

  • 2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 4 (6- to 8-ounce) salmon fillets, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Combine the panko, parsley, lemon zest, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Add the olive oil and stir to combine thoroughly. Set aside.

A bowl of crunchiness

Place the salmon fillets, skin side down, on a board. Brush the top of the fillets with mustard. Sprinkly with salt and pepper. Top with the panko mixture, pressing so that it adheres to the mustard.

Getting crusted

Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or large heavy, ovenproof pan. When the oil is very hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and sear for 3 to 4 minutes, without turning, to brown the skin.

Making crispy skin!

Take the pan off the stove and transfer to the oven for 5-7 minutes, until the salmon is almost cooked and the panko is browned. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve the salmon hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges.

Now let’s talk side dish.  Summer = zucchini = zucchini pancakes.  I’ve made these zucchini pancakes more times than I can count.  I serve them with a sour cream-yogurt herb dipping sauce.  It’s about half greek yogurt and half sour cream with whatever chopped herbs you like. 
Zucchini Pancakes (courtesy of Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home)
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 3/4 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons grated red onion
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Unsalted butter and vegetable oil


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Grate the zucchini into a bowl using the large grating side of a box grater. Immediately stir in the onion and eggs. Stir in 6 tablespoons of the flour, the baking powder, salt, and pepper. (If the batter gets too thin from the liquid in the zucchini, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour.)

Heat a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan over medium heat and melt 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon oil together in the pan. When the butter is hot but not smoking, lower the heat to medium-low and drop heaping soup spoons of batter into the pan. Cook the pancakes about 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place the pancakes on a sheet pan and keep warm in the oven. Wipe out the pan with a dry paper towel, add more butter and oil to the pan, and continue to fry the pancakes until all the batter is used. The pancakes can stay warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

I think the zucchini pancakes were actually the best part of the meal.  That might have had something to do with the copious amount of the sour cream dipping sauce used…


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