Baked Salmon with Spicy Garlic Kale

Overhead shot of a sheet pan of roasted salmon with lemon slices, roasted kale, and capers.

I couldn’t stop eating the olive oil-slicked, lemon-zested, well-salted, crisp-tender kale. Straight off the sheet pan.

When you can’t wait for your food to make it to a plate before diving in, utensil-naked, you know it’s good.

That’s how dinner should always be, but it’s more surprising when you get that reaction from kale.

An entire pan of baked salmon fillets topped with piles of wilted greens was the healthiest thing I ate this week.

It was also the most delicious.

Overhead shot of roasted salmon with lemon slices, roasted kale, and capers on a white plate with a silver fork.

When you discover a healthy sheet pan meal that is both good for you and damn good, it’s like having an angel on both of your shoulders. One encourages you to eat the healthy option, the other begs for the yummy option- except it’s the same meal and you didn’t need convincing anyway.

Can you tell I’m excited about this?

This recipe is a riff on 5 Minute Sheet Pan Fish with Crispy Kale, updated with a new technique for heartier types of fish.

Let’s make healthy baked salmon

It starts with a large sheet pan lined with parchment, four fillets of seasoned salmon, and plenty of lemon slices. Put an additional layer of parchment on top and fold up the edges to seal them together. This is similar to baked salmon in foil. I think it’s easier to bake all of the fillets at once rather than wrap them in individual foil packets.

The fish stays tender while everything roasts because the top layer of parchment traps all of that lemon-scented moisture.

Overhead image of uncooked salmon fillets on a parchment-lined sheet pan topped with lemon slices.

The cooking time will depend on the the size of the fillets and whether you are using farmed or wild-caught salmon. Check the package before you start cooking; farmed salmon is higher in fat so it will take longer to cook than wild-caught.

Any type of salmon should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll know it’s done when it is opaque on the inside and flakes easily with a fork.

Either type of fish will be done in 15 minutes max. That gives you enough time to pick out the wine (unoaked Chardonnay, of course), sit down, and take a sip before dinner.

Overhead shot of a silver bowl filled with uncooked kale.

Heaps of kale and spoonfuls of capers top off the salmon after it’s halfway done. Then, everything finishes together in the oven. The tips of the greens turn crisp while their leaves soften, and the salmon stays rich and moist.

Set the table and light the candles right away (or enlist a helper) because this meal comes together fast.

Up-close and side view of roasted salmon with lemon slices, roasted kale, and capers on a white plate.

Once dinner emerges from the oven, you’ll drizzle spicy garlic oil (made from fresh lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes) over everything while it’s still steaming. Then, add a final pinch or two of flaky sea salt.

The crispy kale and fork-tender salmon soaks up the zesty, spicy, garlicky oil in an explosion of flavors that make you question why you’d ever cook anything else.

So it’s no wonder if you find yourself, standing over the counter, eating straight off the sheet pan.

Baked Salmon with Spicy Garlic Kale

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
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Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 15 minutes

A fast, healthy sheet pan meal topped with spicy garlic oil and flaky sea salt. Dinner is ready in under 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs salmon, about 4 fillets
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ lemon, sliced, plus juice from the other half (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and torn into large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon), optional, for serving

Instructions

1

Heat the oven to 400F. Lay the salmon on a sheet pan lined with parchment and season it with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place lemon slices on top and cover it with an additional layer of parchment, folding up the edges to seal as best as you can.

2

Roast salmon for 7-10 minutes (wild-caught salmon will cook more quickly than farmed), or until internal temperature is about 110F (still raw). Remove the top layer of parchment and scatter the kale and capers on top of the salmon. Drizzle everything with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Return to oven and roast until kale is wilted and lightly charred, and salmon is opaque and cooked through (internal temp 125-130F), about 5 minutes.

3

Meanwhile, combine ¼ cup olive oil, the garlic, red pepper flakes, and reserved lemon juice in a small bowl or measuring cup.

4

Remove the salmon and kale from oven and drizzle everything with the spicy garlic oil. Let the salmon rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle flaky sea salt on top and serve.

Nutrition

  • 465 Calories

Notes

I used to be a Chardonnay evangelist, preaching to all the followers of red wine that there was another, more buttery, path. Then I got sick of it and bowed right back down to medium-bodied Pinot Noir. In this case, I'd go back to Chardonnay. No question. Salmon with Chardonnay (preferably unoaked, but I am no longer at will to judge) holds a celestial place in the world of wine and food pairings. The citrus fruit flavors and buttery texture have a god-given talent to pair with salmon. I'd suggest letting that talent shine.

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