This Salmon Grain Bowl with Asparagus is high in protein and filled with fresh herbs and citrus notes that will perk you (and your muscles) up for spring!Jump to Recipe
I love mixing ancient grains like farro with a protein element in a bowl with some seasonal produce. Everything is better in a bowl. The combination of farro and salmon has an added benefit of making this a high protein meal (37 grams approximately, according to My Fitness Pal).
Salmon Grain Bowl with Asparagus
For prepping this Salmon Grain Bowl with Asparagus, you can do a couple of steps ahead to save some time.
Roasting the farro is optional but only takes 10 minutes and will add some flavor. Cooking the farro like pasta, with salted water also adds extra flavor and can be done ahead as well.
I like to roast and cook grains ahead of time so I can mix them into any number of meals throughout the week.
The most time intensive part of this recipe is the asparagus. I’ve tried asparagus ribbons before and did not enjoy them. Uncooked asparagus is not my favorite. But, if done right, it’s wonderful.
Thinly slicing the asparagus or using a mandolin to get thin ribbons is the first step. I had better luck with my knife skills but I say go with whatever you feel the most comfortable with.
You want the asparagus to be thin enough that it is pliable and doesn’t snap when bent. But you don’t want them to be paper-thin and see through.
The second important part is sprinkling salt over the asparagus ribbons and letting them sit. This step allows the salt to break down the cell walls, making the asparagus softer and more flavorful. It also takes away that bitter raw asparagus taste.
Because this step is the most time intensive, it can be done on a day where you have more free time. I liked the asparagus ribbons best the day-of after they marinated for about 30 minutes.
However, they are still good if you leave them to sit overnight in the fridge. The asparagus will be even softer and more flavorful but it will lose that fresh raw feel (and crunch) and be a little more like quick-fermented veggies (just without the sugar).
I can’t take credit for this method of cooking salmon. It’s something I learned from America’s Test Kitchen and it is by far THE BEST METHOD EVER. It has obliterated all other ways of cooking salmon for me.
The salmon is:
- Soaked in a brine for 15 minutes to season it and keep it moist
- Started on a COLD skillet, skin-side down over medium-high heat
The skin protects the salmon from drying out and releases fat that sears the other side once it’s flipped.
It makes great leftovers as well, which I love to use in salads and other protein/grain bowls. It also made some of the best onigiri I’ve had.
If you need to brush up on your salmon knowledge because you don’t know what to look for or buy, this article from Cook’s Illustrated has you covered.
This Salmon Grain Bowl is a great recipe to use for meal prep. If you mix everything together and separate it out into containers for different days though, I would suggest leaving the arugula out and only adding that right before you eat it.
It’s the only ingredient from the recipe that doesn’t stand up very well to prolonged time in the fridge.
Other Bowl Recipes
As I said, everything is better in a bowl! Here are some other protein + grain + greens bowls you might be interested in:
- Green Goddess Bowl with Roasted Vegetables and Wild Rice
- Leftover Chicken Bowl Recipe
- Salmon Quinoa Bowl
Enjoying Spring Without the Allergies
I’ve been enjoying spring for the first time in a long time. The fact that it’s still occasionally raining and the temperatures haven’t gotten too warm has delayed my usual suffering.
It’s going to get warmer soon though and I’m sure I’ll be miserable shortly. But for now, I’m looking at all the blossoms, enjoying the super bloom, and working outside while I can.
Because my lack of suffering, I’ve been more inspired than normal with spring produce and have been working on a lot of really cool recipes (hint: infusions, shrubs, gin and mocktail bars).
The next recipe will be a Wild Rice Salad that’s a perfect base for bringing on picnics, where you can add in fresh produce or stuff from your cheese board.
In the meantime, go smell the blossoms (if you can without having an allergy attack)!
Salmon Grain Bowl with Asparagus
- 1 cup pearled farro about 2 and 1/2 to 3 cups cooked
- Morton Kosher Salt: 2 teaspoons, 1/2 cup, 1 teaspoon, and 3/4 teaspoon separated out for different parts of the recipe
- 4 6 to 8 ounce skin on salmon fillets*
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 bundle asparagus* woody ends chopped off
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon chives minced
- 1 tablespoon mint minced
- 1 tablespoon dill minced
- 1 cup arugula
(optional) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the farro out on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, or until the farro starts to brown. Take the farro out and let it cool to room temperature.
In a medium saucepan, bring 1 liter of water and 2 teaspoons Morton Kosher Salt to boil. Add the farro and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the farro is tender. Drain and spread the farro on a baking sheet. Set aside.
While the farro is cooking, dissolve a 1/2 cup Morton kosher salt in 2 quarts of water inside a large container. Place the salmon fillets in the brine and let stand for 15 minutes. Take the salmon fillets out and pat them dry with a paper towel. While the salmon is soaking in the brine, prepare the asparagus and the dressing.
Thinly slice the asparagus so that it is pliable enough that it doesn’t snap but not see through (similar to a ribbon). You can also use a mandolin if you want or a vegetable peeler, but for me, slicing with a knife works the best. After you’ve sliced up a couple of asparagus spears into ribbons and placed them in a bowl, sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt over them and toss with your hands, massaging them slightly. Continue cutting the asparagus and mixing the ribbons into the bowl. Once you’ve cut all the asparagus, set it aside. The longer you let the asparagus sit, the softer it will become and the less raw tasting.
For the dressing, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, chives, mint, and dill together with a pinch of salt and set aside.*
Once the salmon is done soaking in the brine, sprinkle a 1/2 teaspoon salt and a 1/2 teaspoon pepper evenly on the bottom of a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Place the salmon fillets, skin-side down, into the skillet. Sprinkle an additional 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper onto the tops of the salmon fillets.
Heat the skillet over medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes, not moving the fillets at all. You want the fat to begin to render and the skin to get brown and crispy. The bottom 1/4 inch of the fillets should be opaque before you flip the fillets.
Use tongs to fill the fillets and cook again, without moving, for 6 to 8 minutes.
Once the centers of the fillets reach 125 degrees, transfer the fillets skin side down to a plate. Let the fillets rest for 5 minutes.
Toss the arugula and farro into the bowl of asparagus ribbons and mix.
Remove the skins from the salmon (you can throw them out or eat them as a snack) and add them to the asparagus, farro, and arugula. Toss until everything is distributed equally. You can flake the salmon before tossing it in if you want but it should fall apart just from tossing.
Pour the dressing over everything and toss to coat. Portion out the servings and serve with a squirt of lemon juice if desired.
Another serving option, if you’d rather have whole salmon fillets: do everything the same until step 10. Skip adding the salmon and just add the dressing, tossing until everything is well coated. Portion out into 4 or 5 bowls or plates and serve with the whole salmon fillets.
• If you use 4, 8-ounce salmon fillets, there is a lot of salmon in comparison to the rest of the ingredients. I just left out the 4th salmon fillet and reserved it for other uses (like making onigiri).
•This recipe works best with fat asparagus rather than thin. It’s easier to cut them into thin ribbons.
• This method of cooking and cooling the farro (or any other grain for that matter) makes it possible to make ahead of time. It can last 5 to 7 days in the fridge and be served both cold or hot.
• Slicing the asparagus into thin ribbons is time intensive but can be done ahead of time. The asparagus ribbons taste best the day of but they hold up well to staying in the fridge for 5 days.
• You can also make a double batch of the dressing and dip slices of French bread into it, it’s delicious!
• The salmon is excellent leftovers so it can also be made ahead of time and tossed cold straight from the fridge into the Salmon Grain Bowl.
• The only ingredient that doesn’t last very well over more than 2 days is the arugula, so if you are meal prepping, it’s best to leave it out until you are ready to eat.