Looking for a healthy grilled salmon recipe? My plank grilled salmon with tomato fennel ragout is rich and flavorful without a lot of calories. See how simple it is to cook salmon on a cedar plank and the easy tomato fennel ragout recipe that takes it up a notch.
Grilled salmon is a summer favorite. When it’s done right, it’s moist and flaky and full of flavor. This plank-grilled salmon with tomato fennel ragout takes the standard grilled salmon recipe to another level with a subtle wood smoke. Tomato fennel ragout is lightly sweet and rich, enhancing the flavor of the wood smoked salmon. Bonus that this plank grilled salmon is ridiculously easy to make.
This will sound blasphemous to some, but I don’t appreciate steak houses and I’ve been to some good ones, thanks to some corporate jobs. The steakhouses I’m referring to are renowned, respected and regularly hailed for their fine aged beef, perfect preparations and consistent sides). To me, however, they’re menus are boring and the prices are high. A steak. A chop. A filet. In my humble opinion, if you have access to a good butcher, you can do the same thing at home — and for a lot less. I know I’m in the minority on this opinion and I accept it.
But it’s not just the meat offerings that make me yawn. The side dishes are virtually identical from one steakhouse menu to another. Grilled asparagus, creamed spinach, sauteed mushrooms and of course, potatoes — mashed, baked, fried, hash-browned. It always bothered me that the sides didn’t come with the dinner items. That’s like going to Denny’s for a stack of pancakes and the butter and maple syrup are served a la carte. I don’t think so.
I know this is a roundabout way of getting to this recipe, but here’s the connection: I actually had it for the first time in a steakhouse! A plank roasted salmon topped with fennel and tomato ragout. I found this combination unexpected and memorable. And it was off-the-charts good! So good that I had to try and make it at home. Two days later, I did. I played around with the ingredients and eventually came up with this close approximation. Plank grilled salmon with tomato fennel ragout has found a way into our regular summer grilling rotation.
How To Cook Salmon on a Cedar Plank:
- Choose your wood. For salmon a cedar or alder plank work well – creating a light smoke that doesn’t overpower the delicate fish flavor.
- Fill a 13 x 9″ pan halfway with water and place the plank in the water. Place a weight on the plank so that it stays submerged in the water and let it soak for about an hour.
- Heat the grill to a medium high heat of about 425 degrees. Place the plank on the grill for about 3-5 minutes with the lid closed.
- Then flip the plank, closing the lid after for another 3-5 minutes. The plank will smoke lightly after the first side has heated.
- Monitor the plank to verify it’s releasing a light smoke.
- Place salmon, skin side down, on the plank. The smoke should be lightly visible and steady.
- Close the lid and cook for 10-12 minutes for medium. Monitor the heat so that the plank is constantly emitting a steady stream of white smoke, not too heavy. (Black smoke is a fire)
- Carefully remove plank and fish from the grill and rest on a cutting board or baking sheet for about 5 minutes to rest.
- Transfer the fish to a serving platter. (The skin will remain stuck to the plank — but the fish will release easily.)
This plank grilled salmon with tomato fennel ragout is a rich-tasting dish from the natural fats of the salmon and umami flavors in the ragout, but it’s actually very light. This easy plank grilled salmon goes great with these roasted potatoes.
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Plank Grilled Salmon with Tomato Fennel Ragout
This is a really simple, flavorful way to cook salmon. Just factor in time to soak the plank before smoking!
- 1 1 1/2 lb Atlantic salmon filet skin on, pin-bones removed with tweezers or pliers.
- 1 bulb fennel cored, sliced vertically into 1/4" wide pieces. Reserve a few fronds for garnish.
- 1 large tomato cored, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 lemon zested
- 1 wood plank preferably cedar or alder
- In a large rimmed baking pan (a 13x9 would work depending on the size of your plank) place the wood plank. Fill the pan with water and use a heavy dish to weight the plank so that it is submerged in the water. Soak the plank for about an hour.
- Heat the grill to a medium high heat of about 425 degrees. Place the plank on the grill for about 3-5 minutes with the lid closed. Then flip the plank, closing the lid after for another 3-5 minutes. The plank will smoke lightly after the first side has heated. Monitor the plank to verify it's releasing a light smoke.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add fennel and stir. Cover tightly with lid and let simmer, stirring occasionally about 8-10 minutes, until fennel is softened and slightly translucent. Stir in chopped tomatoes, cover and simmer an additional five minutes, until tomatoes are softened. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in balsamic vinegar and lemon zest.
You can cook a side of salmon on the plank or cut it into individual portions and then place it on the plank. The latter method will give more surface area for the smoke to penetrate -- and add a slightly stronger smoke flavor.
Place salmon, skin side down, on the plank. The smoke should be lightly visible and steady. Close the lid and cook for 10-12 minutes for medium. Monitor the heat so that the plank is constantly emitting a steady stream of smoke, not too heavy.
- Carefully remove plank and fish from the grill and rest on a cutting board or baking sheet for about 5 minutes.
To serve: Cut salmon into 2" thick slices (skin will stick to the plank leaving you with a nice fillet) and transfer to a serving platter. Top with a generous spoonful of fennel mixture. Garnish with fennel fronds and pinch of lemon zest.
Use Atlantic salmon for this recipe. It's the fattiest and it works best in this preparation. Coho and Sockeye are great, but I've found they don't have those thick Omega-3 striations of fat that Atlantic does. Try to get wild Atlantic salmon if you can.
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