With a focus on fine meats and how to cook them, our series “A Cut Above” will guide you to become the ultimate grill master. This easy Valentine’s dinner idea comes from Christina at Dessert for Two. Impress your partner with a one-pan salmon recipe that is simple to throw together and tastes great.
Creamy spinach and sun-dried tomato sauce over salmon fillets not only looks impressive but tastes incredible. The best part of this dish, though, is that it truly is so simple to make. This restaurant-style dinner is made all in one pan, and is much faster and easier than getting a reservation on Valentine’s Day!
The quality of salmon used when cooking at home matters the most, especially when it is the star ingredient of a dish. The Faroe Island salmon fillets from Harry & David are exquisite—they have a rich, full flavor and silky texture when cooked.
Perfection needs very little adornment, so all we’re doing to cook these lovely fillets is a quick sear in a hot cast-iron skillet. The finishing touch is a simple pan sauce that doubles as a side dish for serving in just minutes.
Tips for Cooking the Salmon and Creamy Spinach Sauce
Start by placing the salmon fillets in a hot cast-iron skillet coated with olive oil. You’ll want to use regular olive oil, not extra-virgin olive oil, because extra-virgin has a very low smoke point so you can’t get your pan very hot if using it. The secret here is to not flip the fillets until they release from the pan—this ensures the crust stays on and becomes a nice golden brown. When you do flip the salmon, use a slotted offset spatula so the flesh comes along for the ride, then cook them on the second side for slightly less time.
The residual heat from the pan is enough to cook the simple sauce after you’ve removed the salmon from the skillet. Once the salmon comes out of the pan, turn off the heat. Then, use a microplane to grate in the garlic cloves. Stir the garlic for about 30 seconds to release their flavors, then add the baby spinach, tomatoes, and half and half. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes while seasoning it with salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce on top of the salmon fillets, and serve them with grated Parmesan. You can bring the skillet directly to the table to serve from, or place each fillet on a plate with half of the creamy pan sauce.
This one-pan meal is the perfect romantic dinner for two at home for Valentine’s Day. You can finish the night off with a sweet Valentine’s dessert that you can prepare ahead of time, like this chocolate mousse.
One-Pan Salmon with Creamy Spinach Sauce
- 2 4- ounce fillets of Faroe Island salmon from Harry & David
- ½ teaspoon salt (plus extra for seasoning)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (plus extra for seasoning)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 heaping cups of fresh spinach
- ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil)
- ¼ cup half and half (or heavy cream)
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Rinse the salmon fillets, then pat dry with paper towels.
- Sprinkle the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper on all sides of the salmon.
- Heat the olive oil in a 10” cast-iron skillet until nearly smoking hot.
- Lower the heat to medium, and then add the salmon fillets.
- Cook the salmon fillets on the first side until golden brown—they will release easily from the pan when they’re ready to flip.
- Flip the salmon and cook the second side for 3-4 minutes.
- Remove the salmon from the pan and place on a plate to rest.
- Turn off the heat on the skillet. The residual heat will be enough to cook the sauce.
- Add the minced garlic to the skillet, and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add the spinach, tomatoes, and half and half to the skillet. Give it a stir and season with a big pinch of salt and pepper.
- Nestle the salmon back into the skillet and serve, garnished with Parmesan cheese.