Try This Family Favorite Cilantro Salmon Recipe

So far, 2021 continues to be challenging. In Texas, we are finally seeing some “normalcy” returning after February’s winter storm.

And with spring in the horizon, I cannot wait for outdoor grilling and the array of citrus fruits at the grocery stores. I continue to work from home. And, while it may seem that this should make life easier, balancing family and work life is still as complicated as it was at the beginning of the pandemic. That said, nothing beats the feeling of being with my family during this time.

One thing that has not changed is that I still have to please my biggest critics when it comes to preparing healthy and delicious meals—my very, very Mexican husband and two children. This is why I am going to share one of my easiest recipes ever! And while my husband (and most certainly my kids) are not “fish fans,” this dish is not only easy, but has a creamy spicy dressing that gives it an extra added flavor. To say the least, this recipe requires very little prep and cooking time, is nutritious (containing many, many powerful nutrients) and appetizing.

I love to serve Cilantro Salmon on a bed of steamed brown rice, but any rice will do. I do want to mention that the “boil in a bag” precooked brown rice options are just lifesavers. I also like including a very simple (but nutritious) kale salad (shredded fresh kale, red cabbage and grated carrots) with this recipe since we have the creamy cilantro sauce that can also serve as a dressing.

Nutrition Focus in Recipe

Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are truly powerful. This unique nutrient does it all–influencing heart, brain and eye health.

  • Currently, what I find to be one of omega-3 fatty acids’s greatest benefits, is its role on emotional well-being. Research has found that it aids with symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as having some effects on personality and impulse control. While more research is still needed in this area, these findings are noteworthy and encouraging.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are essential, meaning they must be consumed from the foods we eat. But, no worries—by having two servings of salmon each week, you will meet the American Heart Association recommendations of 6-8 oz/week.

Ingredients

Serves: 4 Prep  Cooking Time: ~45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 (6 oz) skinless salmon fillets (~1 inch thick)
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of Paprika
  • 1 tbsp of chili powder
  • Lime juice, as desired

Creamy Cilantro Sauce

  • 1 cup packed cilantro (leaves and some stems)
  • 1 green onion (root trimmed and thinly chopped)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ½ fresh jalapeno (de-stemmed with some seeds removed), optional
  • ½ – ¾ cup of reduced-fat cream cheese
  • Dash of reduced-fat milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For Garnishing

  • Thinly chopped scallions (green onions)
  • Lime slices

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 350 F.
  2. Tip: For even cooking, take salmon out of refrigerator and leave at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes. Prepare cilantro sauce.
  3. Prepare Sauce: Except for milk, salt and pepper, add all ingredients of the cilantro sauce into a food processor. Process until smooth. Add milk until desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Season Salmon: With a paper towel, dab both sides of the salmon until dry. On both sides of salmon, sprinkle olive oil and lime juice. Then season salmon by rubbing paprika and chili powder on both sides. To make cleaning easier, place aluminum foil on baking sheet. Position salmon on baking sheet.
  5. Bake on middle oven rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Monitor salmon doneness.
  6. Broil: Move baking sheet to top oven rack and broil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. To determine if salmon is fully cooked, gently press down using a fork and see if the flesh of the salmon easily separates. If so, it is ready. Remove from oven.
  7. Serve: Remove salmon from baking sheet, plate and sprinkle with cilantro sauce to liking. Garnish with limes and green onions.
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Alicia G. Quiroz
Alicia G. Quiroz
As a food and nutrition educator and advocate I work with two of my favorite things – people and food. Born and raised on the Texas-Mexican border, I am bicultural, bilingual, and biliterate, all of which comes in handy when experimenting with adding flavor to healthy recipes. Building recipes that incorporate health research and delicious taste is a creative process and leading others to discover their most nutritious path has been my passion for over 15 years. As a Food Scholar I spend countless hours at the grocery store thinking, creating and strategizing how to eat healthier. A huge part of my life involves promoting health through diet and exercise. This hasn’t always been easy, changing food habits is difficult within my very Mexican-Spanish family and community. Most days, I am an active mother of two and wife to a sports-obsessed husband, a sister and a friend, all while completing my second PhD and constantly striving to balance a busy life with putting healthy food on the dinner table.

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