Salmon is in my top 5 faves, both to make and to eat. I love it for a quick and healthy weeknight dinner, and I think the best way to serve a dinner party crowd is with an impressive (but so easy) whole roasted side of salmon topped with citrus slices. I used to be all about a quick broil with high heat that got the top of the salmon crispy golden-brown and left the inside tender… but then I experimented with this slow-roasting method, and I became an instant convert. Scroll on to see how easy the technique is and find out why I may never make salmon any other way again.
photos by Hannah Haston
Okay, there are two secrets to this recipe that yield the most tender, moist, buttery salmon you’ll ever put in your mouth. First, the slow-roasting technique on a low oven temperature, and second, the abundance of olive oil that gently poaches the salmon without drying it out. Fat-a-phobes, don’t be scared: the salmon doesn’t actually absorb most of the oil. Plus, this kind of fat is really good for you (promise.)
The broiling technique that I used to use was yummy, but the cook time was so fast and if you didn’t take it out of the oven at the exact right time, you’d end up with overly dry fish. This recipe has a lot more room for error; since the cook temperature is so low, if the salmon gets left in the oven for a few extra minutes, no sweat. It’s still gonna be delish, which is perfect for those like me who are constantly getting distracted and forgetting about whatever it is they’ve got going in the oven.
I love casually breaking this one apart into irregular, slightly imperfect pieces to serve. It feels modern and unfussy, and then you can go crazy with scattering fennel fronds and more herbs and extra drizzles of olive oil and more sea salt and pepper. Don’t be afraid to get a little messy.
Feel free to use this technique as inspiration for an endless amount of experimentation! I’ve done a great Asian version where the salmon gets brushed with a soy-sriracha glaze before going in the oven, and next up I’m going to try it with grapefruit slices and a little honey. Just stick to the 275 degree oven temp and the same cook time, and you’ll be good to go. I usually serve this with some roasted broccoli or asparagus on the side, and some quinoa or sweet potato makes it a super satisfying dinner. Read on for the recipe.
- 2 lb salmon filet (ask the fishmonger for center-cut if they have it, and I like to have them remove the skin to make life easier for me)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 7 or 8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
- 1/2 fennel bulb, core removed and thinly sliced
- a few sprigs of rosemary or thyme
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a shallow baking pan just large enough to fit salmon in a single layer, spread out fennel slices, half of citrus slices, scatter smashed garlic cloves, then pour olive oil over top.
- Nestle the salmon fillet over the top of the citrus, making sure at least the bottom is submerged in oil. Drizzle with a little more oil, season generously with salt and pepper, then scatter remaining citrus slices over top of salmon.
- Scatter thyme sprigs around pan, then pop into the oven for 25 - 30 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a spoon. I like to insert a knife in the center to peek and make sure it's cooked to my liking - I like it to be firm and pink but not raw in the center.
- Remove from oven and use a serving spoon to break it apart a bit. Top with fennel fronds if desired, season with a little more salt and pepper, and eat up!