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If you are looking for a meal that looks fancy but is easy to pull together, you’ve found it! This walnut crusted salmon with shallot dressing has been a go-to of mine for many years. It has impressed many guests and has been my secret weapon, but I’ve decided it’s time to share it with you.
It was inspired by Ellie Krieger’s Walnut-Rosemary crusted salmon recipe that I have tweaked over time. I’ve also added a sauce that tastes amazing yet is easy to make in a blender and requires no cooking.
Salmon and walnuts are both excellent sources of Omega 3’s, so this recipe should become a staple at your house too!
I recommend you start by making the dressing. Even though this walnut crusted salmon recipe comes together in less than 30 minutes, it’s best to get that out of the way before you concentrate on the salmon.
For anyone familiar with “beurre blanc”, this is my healthier take on it. Instead of shallots, vinegar, white wine and butter, I am using shallots, vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil. Brilliant, right?
- Shallots are really the star of this dressing and I don’t recommend substituting anything else. Their unique flavor profile is what you’re after here. They have a hint of sharpness yet are delicately sweet.
- Dijon mustard acts as a binder/emulsifier and brings an nice bite to the dressing. Maille is my favorite, but you do you…!
- Lemon juice: depending on the size of your lemon, you’ll need the juice of about half a lemon. The other half will give you the zest and juice for the salmon topping.
- White balsamic vinegar is my latest obsession. I find Colavita’s is readily available at most grocery stores or on Amazon. It’s the perfect vinegar for this recipe as it’s colorless, mild, and pairs very well with the sweet bite of shallots. But, in a pinch, you could use white wine vinegar or even red wine vinegar.
- Olive oil. A mild tasting extra virgin olive oil is best here. You don’t want a bold flavored one that would overpower the shallot flavor. My go-to is Partanna.
Place all ingredients except the olive oil in a blender and process until smooth. Add the olive oil and either shake until emulsified or pulse just a few times. Avoid processing with the blender’s blade for more than 5 seconds or so, or your olive oil may develop a bitter flavor.
Note that the recipe makes double the amount of dressing needed for the salmon but is a great salad dressing to be used later. It will keep 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator and can be thinned out with water if needed (bring to room temperature and re-emulsify before using as the olive oil will solidify in the refrigerator)
There are two elements to the topping: a crispy walnut and panko breadcrumb mixture, and a paste that is rubbed onto the salmon to add flavor and help the walnuts adhere. Use a small bowl for the paste and a shallow dish or a plate for the walnut and crumbs mixture.
- Dijon mustard again acts as a binder and brings a little zing.
- Lemon: you will need the zest of about half a lemon, and just a couple teaspoons of juice. Use a citrus zester or a fine grater for best results.
- Garlic. Grate your garlic with the same grater, or mince it very fine.
- Rosemary: you can substitute 1 tsp dried rosemary for 1 tbsp fresh.
- Honey: I am not a big fan of added sugar in recipes that really don’t need it, but I find that 1/4 tsp in this topping adds just a nice balance to the tartness of the lemon and mustard. You can omit it if you prefer.
- Red pepper flakes add a subtle heat to the topping, but if your taste buds fear the heat, you can omit them.
- Whole wheat panko breadcrumbs can be found in most grocery stores nowadays or on Amazon. They are crispier than regular breadcrumbs.
- Walnuts. Chop them fine with a knife, or process in a spice grinder or blender if you like them even finer.
- Olive oil. Just a bit is needed to bind the crumbs together and help it brown nicely.
Putting it together
I find that the easiest way to get a perfect topping is to rub the paste on top of the salmon with a spoon, then carefully grab each piece and dip the top (flesh side) into the breadcrumb mixture, pressing lightly so it adheres. You can also try to sprinkle the crumbs over the salmon, but they tend to fall all over the sheetpan…
That’s all there is to it! It may sound complex, but once you’ve made it you will realize how easy it is to put together. And wait for the ooh’s and aah’s from your family or guests…
Other recipes to try:
Walnut crusted salmon with shallot dressing
- Chop the shallot roughly and place in a blender. Add mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
- Open carefully, add olive oil, close the lid and pulse the blender a few times until emulsified. Do not over process or the oil may turn bitter.
- Pour into a bowl and reserve.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil.
- In a small bowl, combine mustard, lemon zest and juice, garlic, rosemary, honey, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
- In a shallow dish or deep plate, combine breadcrumbs, finely chopped walnuts. and 2 tsp olive oil.
- Cut salmon fillet into 4 pieces. Spread the mustard mixture over the fish.
- Carefully grab each piece and dip the top (flesh side) into the breadcrumb mixture, pressing lightly so it adheres. Place the fish, skin side down, onto the baking sheet.
- Bake until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Take out of the oven and cover loosely with aluminum foil for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve salmon with a drizzle of shallot dressing on the plate.