Friday Fish: St. Patrick’s Day One-Pan Salmon on Kale with Lemon and Thyme

It just happens that a lenten Friday Fish and St. Patrick’s occur on the same day this year. This is no lie:  if you live in Chicago (and several surrounding areas) and are Catholic, you have special dispensation from the archbishop to eat corned beef instead of fish:

Ours is a merciful God. Chicagoland Catholics may enjoy the traditional corned beef and cabbage this Friday, despite the church’s practice of avoiding meat on Fridays during Lent. Cardinal Blase Cupich, leader of the Archdiocese of Chicago, has granted a dispensation. So have the bishops of the Joliet, Rockford and Gary dioceses.

Chicago Trib 3/15/17

I’m not Catholic, so it’s not a big deal to me, but I am kind of wondering how many dioceses nationwide (worldwide?) have issued similar edicts. No matter what, though, I’m keeping my Friday Fish today for lots of reasons. Growing up in Chicago, corned beef was special occasion deli food, served up in big greasy piles on soft and warm fresh rye bread lathered with mustard. Snuggled along side was a stacked up mess of dill pickles as well as a toppling tower of crispy potato chips–Jay’s, if you could get them. (The deli is still my choice of places to eat corned beef. They know how to cook it.)  Sure there was the occasional corned beef dinner boiled up on the stove, but I have no memory of it for St. Patrick’s Day and so have not kept that particular tradition. Most times I’ve made an incredible potato soup and soda bread:

Potato Soup and Irish Soda Bread
 or occasionally something like…

More Time Salmon and Colcannon with Fresh Green Beans (below)

or a couple of years even a Guinness Beef Pot Pie with Cheddar Dill Biscuits.

The other day when I asked Dave what he wanted for St. Patrick’s Day dinner, he said without missing a beat, “Salmon sounds good. As long as there’s Guinness, too, of course.”

I took this in the bar at the top of the Guinness Brewery in Dublin where there’s a fantastic view of the city.

Salmon! The quintessential Irish fish that’s served everywhere on the island. It’s the favorite for tucking up smoked in the middle of scones, perfect to grace a salad for lunch, and is even happy on the holiday dinner table for those who can do without their Christmas roast beef. Naturally salmon’s a regular feature at my house and when I considered how I’d make it for today, I chose my couldn’t-get-any-easier-recipe. Here’s the drill: sauté the vegetables in a skillet, top them with the salmon fillets, cover, and cook a few minutes. Need a fancier presentation? Add a sauce. Stir up a small bowl of sour cream or plain yogurt with a spoonful of spicy, whole grain mustard +/or horseradish, some minced fresh dill, and salt and pepper. Or what about adding some chopped tomatoes or a big drizzle of marinara on top of the fish at serving time? Whatever you do, I think this will become a go-to in your kitchen, too.

Need music while you cook?  Dial up and some fun Irish tunes should begin. If not,  plug in Irish Traditional into the CREATE STATION box.

Try this:


serves 2                     easily doubled

This meal cooks so quickly that you’ll need to give it your undivided attention. Make sure and set table and pour wine before you begin.  Need more? A side of creamy mashed potatoes with green onions (champ) would be the typical Irish accompaniment; brown or white rice is lovely, too.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme – plus extra for garnish
  • 5 ounces fresh kale, thinly sliced-about 2 cups
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • 2 salmon fillets, 4-6 ounces each, with skin
  • 2 lemon wedges for garnish

Heat a large deep skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add chopped onion and sauté about 5 minutes with 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Add minced garlic and cook another minute. Season with a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper and the thyme.  Stir.

Add kale to onion mixture and let cook down, stirring occasionally, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, the juice of one lemon, 1/4 cup white wine, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Sprinkle salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Add salmon fillets, skin side down, on top of the kale and onions. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook about six minutes or until salmon is just barely firm and opaque, but still moist at center. Serve a scoop of kale mixture to each plate, top with a piece of salmon, and garnish with thyme and a slice of lemon.  Serve hot.  See Cook’s Notes below for salmon cooking temperature information.

IMPORTANT COOK’S NOTE:  Chefs often cook salmon to 120 or 125 degrees Fahrenheit and let it rest while those numbers come up a bit. FDA says 145 degrees. There are current reports that some Pacific salmon may contain Japanese tapeworms if it is shipped on ice (not frozen) and eaten raw or undercooked. This includes chum salmon, masu salmon, pink salmon and sockeye salmon.

{printable recipe}

If you liked this, you might also like my:

Sheet Pan Dinner:  Dijon Salmon with Garlicky Green Beans and Mushrooms


Happy St. Patrick’s Day; eat some salmon,


3 thoughts on “Friday Fish: St. Patrick’s Day One-Pan Salmon on Kale with Lemon and Thyme

  1. Pingback: One-Pan Barramundi on Lemony Greens with Dijon Sauce | More Time at the Table

Leave a Reply