Cedar plank salmon is an indigenous food tradition that dates back likely thousands of years to groups of people who lived on the coast where both salmon and cedar were plentiful.
Fast-forward to today, and cooks are still making cedar plank salmon, even if they live far from both salmon runs and cedar forests.
Although you can find cedar boards in the seafood section of many grocery stores, I like Valerie Azinge’s method of using smoked paprika and black pepper to make a blackening seasoning, which gives the fish a hint of that earthy char without actually cooking it on a piece of wood. Her method also allows you to serve dinner in less than 30 minutes.
Plus, you’ll have a pistachio, parsley and arugula pesto that you can use for several other meals throughout the week. Try it on pasta salad, with grilled meats or tofu or mixed with olive oil and vinegar to make a vinaigrette
Blackened Salmon with Pistachio Pesto and Salad
Blackened salmon mimics the smoky-earthy char you enjoy from cedar plank salmon, and you can achieve this easy low-carb version in less than 30 minutes. The pistachio pesto gives it a subtle sweetness with a nice kick of fresh herbs.
— Valerie Azinge
For the pistachio pesto:
3/4 cup arugula
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup raw pistachios, shelled and unsalted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the salmon:
4 (4-ounce) salmon fillets, skin-on
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Field green salad, for serving
Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
To make the pistachio pesto: In a food processor, pulse the arugula, parsley, pistachios, lemon juice, garlic, oil, Parmesan, salt and pepper until smooth. Scoop out about 1/2 cup and reserve it for the salmon. The rest of the pesto can be stored in the fridge for 5 days.
Lay out the salmon on a chopping board. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Rub each fillet individually. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, place the salmon flesh side down in the hot oil and sear for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the salmon skin side down and sear for 4 to 6 minutes until crispy.
Transfer the salmon to a serving plate and top with pistachio pesto. Serve with a salad and lemon wedges, if using. Serves 4.
— From "30-Minute Low-Carb Dinners: 75 Easy-to-Prepare Meals That Are Healthy, Delicious and Fast" by Valerie Azinge (Page Street Publishing, $21.99)