Poached Salmon with Mixed Greens and Pine Nuts

Poached Salmon with Mixed Greens and Pine Nuts
  • Difficulty:

  • Prep Time:

    20m - 30m
  • Total Time:

    40m - 50m
  • Servings:



A deceptively elegant chef-style dish, this light lunch is surprisingly easy to prepare. Start with fresh, local salmon and a bag of greens from your favorite grocer or farmer’s market. In summertime the supermarkets and farm stands are crowded with leafy greens. While salads are an easy way to incorporate fresh greens into your diet, cooked greens have many virtues as well. They're an excellent side dish for light summer meals, like this poached salmon. Choose three or four lettuce varieties with different flavors and textures for the best results.


  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • ½ lemon, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • ½ rib celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 - 4 cups spinach, kale, dandelion, chard or other seasonal greens
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp. olive oil or butter
  • ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts, divided
  • 4 portions boneless salmon fillet, 3-5 oz. each
  • ⅔ cup cold butter, in small pieces


  1. Combine water, white wine, white wine vinegar, lemon, peppercorns, salt, bay leaves, thyme, celery and half of the onion in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, then strain out the solids and reserve the liquid. This quick broth, or "court-bouillon," will be the poaching liquid for your salmon.
  2. Place a heavy-bottomed skillet on your stovetop over moderate heat. Add the oil and the rest of the onion and then cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Remove any tough stems or ribs from the greens and rinse them well under cold water. Tear the leaves coarsely into large pieces and add them to the skillet along with the onion. Cook the greens until they're tender and the onions are lightly golden. This can take just a few minutes with spinach, or 10-15 minutes with sturdier greens, so judge by the greens' texture rather than the actual cooking time. When they're completely tender, stir in half of the pine nuts and set them aside to keep warm.
  4. Heat a second skillet over medium heat and pour in the court-bouillon. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer, no more than 180° F (use an instant-read thermometer to monitor the temperature). Lower the salmon portions gently into the liquid, which should just barely cover them.
  5. Poach the salmon for 10-12 minutes, until it's barely translucent in the thickest portion of the fillet. Remove the salmon carefully from its broth with a slotted spoon or spatula and keep warm on a plate. Pour off all but 1 cup of the poaching liquid and turn the heat to medium-high. Boil the bouillon until it has reduced to about ¼ cup, then remove from the heat. Whisk in the cold butter, one piece at a time. The butter and cooking juice should form a smooth, creamy-looking sauce.
  6. Divide the greens between four plates and place a portion of salmon alongside each mound of greens. Spoon the sauce over the salmon and around the greens. Garnish each plate with a sprinkling of pine nuts. Serve immediately.


Very sturdy greens, such as kale or collards, are best if they're blanched first. Drop them into boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then transfer them to a bowl of ice water to chill. Drain the ice water when you're ready to add the greens to your skillet.

Any leftovers must be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking, and should be eaten within 3-4 days.

Activate to launch comment card