Pan Seared Salmon with Citrus Salsa Verde

I subscribe to Food Network’s email distribution list, so when this recipe (courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis) appeared in my email recently I knew I had to try it! I really love salmon, and I’m constantly looking for new ways to eat it. I’m also trying to drop some lbs, and this recipe seemed to fit the bill of healthy, flavorful, fresh and summery. I did make some minor changes to her recipe, which I’ll make notations of in my cook’s notes.

One thing that is required of this recipe is segmenting oranges. I learned how to do this in culinary school at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, SC, which merged with the Norfolk, VA campus and is now located in Charlotte, NC (nice plug, right?!), but it quickly dawned on me that a lot of people might not know how to do this. Sure, you could visit YouTube for an instructional video, but I’d still like to provide my pics and instructions, which literally mimic every word in the video. ;-)

The first thing to note is that this recipe calls for orange and lemon zest, so before you start the process of segmenting the oranges be sure to zest your oranges first! I used a zester similar to this one (which then requires the strips of zest to be finely chopped), but you can also use a Microplane Zester. I love my Microplane Zester. It’s probably in my top 10 favorite kitchen tools (Can you say “future blog post?”), but sometimes I’m just not in the mood to deal with properly cleaning it. It’s a bit of a hassle honestly. So once you’ve zested your oranges, you can now start the segmenting process.

First, you’ll want to cut the ends of your orange off. This not only provides for a flat surface on which to cut, but it also reveals the edge of the pith where you’ll need to cut. Slice along the edge of the pith all the way from top to bottom. Be sure to cut close enough so you don’t lose too much of the fruit.

Segmenting an Orange
Segmenting an Orange


Once you’ve done that, you end up with this! Isn’t it pretty?
Segmenting an Orange

Working carefully, slice along the membrane to remove each segment. Do this over a bowl so it will catch the juices. At the end, give the orange a good squeeze to extract the rest of the juices (watch out for seeds!).
Segmenting an Orange

To that same bowl, add in the rest of your salsa verde ingredients and then you’ll have this:

Citrus Salsa Verde

I decided to pan sear my salmon because I just love the crust you get when you sear it. I might try grilling it in my cast iron grill pan next time, but the pan searing was a total success for the first try. I also used the agave per her instructions when I cooked the salmon on Friday night, but when I made it again Saturday night (I bought a pound of salmon!) I decided to forego the agave and just stick with simple salt and pepper. While I liked the flavor of the agave, it got a little too charred before I felt the fish had time to develop a nice sear. Either way, both results were equally good!

Here are the results from Friday (please excuse the iPhone photo!):

Salmon w/ Citrus Salsa Verde

Here are the results from Saturday with no agave (again, please excuse the iPhone photo!):

Salmon w/ Citrus Salsa Verde

On a side note and for those of you who may be interested in knowing, the salad from Friday was a really simple combination of mixed greens, red cherub tomatoes, yellow sunburst tomatoes, nectarine (or peach), bell pepper, feta, balsamic vinegar and EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil). My best friend, Meghan, who was dining with me raved about how food at other people’s houses always tastes better, which I completely agree with! Thanks for the compliment, too! ;-)

This has been my “go to” salad all summer long. I’ll sometimes throw in spinach or arugula, and I’ll mix it up with different berries, such as raspberry, blueberries or strawberries. I’ll often use goat cheese instead of feta, and sometimes I’ll shred carrots and add that in as well. Plus, if I’m making it into a main dish I’ll toss in grilled chicken. You get the idea – it’s pretty versatile! Saturday night my eyes were much bigger than my stomach, so I ended up with at least half of that cooked salmon leftover. So on Sunday I simply broke it into pieces and tossed it into my salad for a very tasty (and healthy) dinner!

Pan Seared Salmon with Citrus Salsa Verde
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe on

Serves: 4

2 large oranges
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil*
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 scallions, finely sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped*
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes*
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 (4-ounce) center cut salmon fillets*
2 tablespoons amber agave nectar*
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine orange segments and reserved orange juice, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, scallions, mint, capers, orange zest, lemon zest and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Toss lightly and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

2. Get pan real nice and hot over high heat. Add a Tablespoon of EVOO and place the salmon flesh side down (skin side up) in the pan. Be sure to face the pan away from you in order to avoid oil from splattering on you. Shake the pan for a few seconds and cook for about 30 seconds. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Flip salmon over so the skin side is down and cook for another 2-5 minutes, depending on your desired doneness. I like my salmon medium, so it took about 4 minutes on the first side and another 3 on the other. I also had nice, thick filets. :-) Transfer salmon to a plate and allow to rest for a few minutes. Garnish with salsa verde.

Cook’s Notes

1. Giada’s recipe called for 4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) olive oil in the salsa verde, but I’m trying to cut down on calories and EVOO is pretty high in calories. I didn’t think it needed that extra Tablespoon at all.

2. I personally dislike capers, but I decided to be true to the recipe and keep them in. I’ll leave them out next time, but that’s just my preference.

3. If you watch the accompanying video on, Giada adds “a pinch” of red pepper flakes, despite the recipe saying a teaspoon (which is far from a pinch!). I personally liked it a little spicy, and I definitely didn’t think it was too spicy for those who don’t like spicy foods. It was kind of an aftertaste and didn’t overpower the dish at all.

4. Giada’s recipe states to have the skin removed from the salmon since you’re grilling, but if you pan sear I think it’s best to keep the skin on. It makes it nice and crispy, plus it helps to keep the fish together. You can easily peel it off after cooking if you have picky eaters, but the salmon flaked away perfectly from the skin and wasn’t a bother at all.

5. See my comments above regarding the agave nectar. I liked the flavor it gave the fish, but you’ll also probably see a bit of a color difference from Friday to Saturday. If you use the agave, just be careful not to overcook it because it does caramelize and can burn.

Nutritional Information:
Serving Size: 4-oz. fillet and accompanying salsa verde; Calories: 329; Fat: 17.7g; Saturated Fat: 2.5g; Cholesterol: 55mg; Sodium: 274mg; Carbs: 20.6g; Dietary Fiber: 2.4g; Sugars 15.1g; Protein: 22.1g

*Please note the nutritional information is only an estimate.*