If, like me, you’ve been grilling salmon fillets all summer long and are ready to shake things up taste-wise, I have a burger recipe that is calling your name. Made with chopped fresh salmon and seasoned with lemon, dill and mustard, these burgers have a modern comfort-food appeal and a distinctly Greek flavor accent, which is punctuated by the accompanying herb-flecked cucumber-yogurt sauce (tzatziki).
They are a breeze to make, because the food processor does most of the work. Just put chunks of fresh salmon in the processor bowl and pulse until chopped, then combine in a mixing bowl with fresh breadcrumbs, seasonings and some egg white to bind it all together. Form the mixture into patties, then refrigerate for 10 minutes to set. When you are ready to eat, grill until the outside is nicely browned and the inside is cooked through but still tender and moist. The tzatziki sauce makes a refreshing, creamy counterpoint to the richness of the salmon and is a healthy alternative to mayonnaise-based tartar sauce.
Whether you bake, broil, grill or cook salmon in the skillet, brine it first (30 minutes to 2 hours, tops). That ensures the salmon turns out moist. The brine – water, salt and sometimes sugar – sort of plumps the salmon.
Editor’s note: Two other salmon recipes are included here, one for leftovers (is there such a thing?) and, yes, grilled fillets, because some of us just can’t get enough of them.
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Salmon burgers with tzatziki sauce
Make ahead: The burgers may be assembled, shaped and refrigerated, tightly covered, 1 day before cooking. The tzatziki sauce may be made up to 4 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator; give it a stir before serving.
From cookbook author and nutritionist Ellie Krieger.
For the sauce:
1/2 medium unpeeled English (seedless) cucumber, trimmed
3/4 cup plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the burgers:
3 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread, crusts removed
One-pound piece skinless salmon fillet, preferably center-cut
2 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
3 tablespoons minced celery
2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Whole-grain buns or lettuce leaves, for serving
For the sauce: Grate the cucumber on the large-holed side of a box grater. Place the grated cucumber in a fine-mesh strainer and drain for a minute or two, pressing out as much liquid as possible.
Stir together the grated cucumber, yogurt, oil, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. The yield is about 1 cup. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (and up to 4 days).
For the burgers: Place the bread in the food processor and pulse to make fine crumbs. (The yield should be about 1 1/2 cups.) Transfer them to a large mixing bowl.
Cut the salmon into large chunks, then transfer to the food processor; pulse until chopped but some pieces still remain visible, 10 to 15 pulses; add to the bowl with the breadcrumbs.
Add the scallions, celery, dill, mustard, lemon juice, egg white, salt and pepper to the bowl, mixing to combine. Form this mixture into 4 equal patties and place them on a plate. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes to set.
Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Once it is hot, grease it with cooking oil spray; add the salmon patties and cook for about 3 minutes per side or until just cooked through.
Serve with the sauce, on the buns or with the lettuce leaves (to use as wraps).
Per serving (burger and sauce only): 290 calories, 32 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 590 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar
Lemon-pepper salmon cakes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Makes 6-8 cakes
You can substitute just about any cooked fish for the salmon in the recipe. From and tested by Susan Selasky of the Detroit Free Press.
3/4 pound cooked salmon
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper
2 green onions, ends removed, sliced
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
3 to 4 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 whole egg, lightly beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs, divided
Mixed greens salad
Tzatziki sauce, optional
In a mixing bowl, break the cooked salmon into pieces. Make sure the pieces are not too small – once you form the cakes the salmon should look like lump crab does when making crab cakes. Set aside.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium heat. Add the red pepper and onion; sauté until soft. Cool a few minutes and then add to the salmon in the bowl. Stir in the lemon pepper seasoning, 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, Dijon, egg and 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs. Mix gently. If the mixture seems too loose, add more mayonnaise and more bread crumbs.
Shape the mixture into desired-size patties. A 1/3-cup measure will give you a good size (about 2 ounces) salmon patty. Once you have all the patties formed, place the remaining 1/2 cup panko on a plate. Lightly coat both sides of each patty with the crumbs (use more if needed). Set the panko-coated patties on a plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
When ready to cook, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat in the same skillet you sautéed the red pepper and onion. Working in batches if necessary, cook the salmon patties about 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from the skillet and serve as is or on a bed of mixed greens.
Cook’s note: A tzatziki sauce goes great with these salmon cakes. Mix together 1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt and 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream with 3/4 cup chopped cucumber (peeled, seeded); lemon juice to taste, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Stir and chill 30 minutes before serving.
Per salmon cake: 269 calories (51 percent from fat), 15 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 16 g carbohydrates, 17 g protein, 261 mg sodium, 78 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber.
Grilled salmon and salad
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
1 pound center-cut salmon fillet
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose seasoning
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 mini red bell peppers
6 pineapple slices, about 1/2-inch thick
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1/4 cup diced red onion
8 cups mixed field greens
Red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Preheat the grill to medium. Cut the salmon into about four equal 4-ounce portions or desired size. Place the salmon on a plate and rub with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with the paprika, all-purpose seasoning, salt and black pepper. Set aside.
Brush the bell peppers and pineapple slices with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season the peppers with salt and pepper.
When the grill is hot, place the peppers and pineapple on the grill. Grill the peppers and the pineapple slices until you get nice grill marks on each side of the pineapple and all sides of the peppers. Remove from the grill. Chop the peppers and half of the pineapple and place in a bowl with the green onion and red onion. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Cut the remaining pineapple into pieces.
For the salad, place the greens in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Divide salad among four serving plates.
Place the salmon pieces on the grill, flesh side down and grill about 5 minutes depending on the thickness. When the salmon releases from the grates easily, turn it skin side down and grill another 5 minutes. The salmon should be flake easily – not come apart in shreds.
Remove it from the grill by sliding a spatula between the salmon and the skin. Place salmon on the greens and top with about 2 tablespoons pepper mixture. Serve with grilled pineapple.
Per serving: 437 calories (42 percent from fat), 21 g fat (3 grams sat. fat), 38 g carb., 28 g protein, 394 mg sodium, 70 mg chol., 6 g fiber