This pan-seared salmon that's surrounded by a decadent creamy garlic sauce filled with lightly sautéed spinach is to die for. It looks really complicated and fancy, but is actually quite easy. Since everything cooks in one pan, there's minimal clean up. I love to serve this by itself or along with simple quinoa or brown rice.
Additives in Heavy Cream
For someone on a migraine diet, you want to make sure you're buying natural foods without additives. This can be challenging when it comes to heavy cream. Before starting the Heal Your Headache diet, I would just grab whatever cream was the cheapest off the shelves. It's all the same, right? False! Many companies like to add gums and thickeners to the cream, the worst one for us being carrageenan. Carrageenan, which comes from red seaweed, can cause a reaction in those who are highly sensitive to MSG. Brands like O Organics from Safeway and Butterworks Farm are strictly cream based, while others like Publix Greenwise and Organic Valley or Horizon can contain gellan gum, which is allowed.
A Dairy-Free, Paleo Option for Salmon with Creamy Garlic Spinach
Another option is to use coconut cream for those with dairy sensitivities. Although coconut is not technically allowed on Heal Your Headache because it's classified as a nut, I tend to disagree since it can also be labeled as a seed or a fruit. Many find they can also tolerate it quite well. Still, it's a good idea to eliminate it in the beginning if you're chronic. I've used both heavy cream and coconut cream and the recipe is delicious with both! I prefer the coconut cream from Trader Joe's, which has no additives. If you choose to do this all dairy-free, simply replace the butter with olive oil or ghee for paleo.
If you use coconut cream, your sauce might be a little more thin. Adding 2 teaspoons of flour or arrowroot powder to the shallot mix before you add the coconut cream can help to thicken it.
For salmon, I love to choose wild caught or New Zealand king salmon, which is sustainable, if that's an option.
How to Make Crispy Pan Seared Salmon with Creamy Spinach
Getting a fish crispy on the outside may be intimidating at first, but it's fairly easy to do. My best tips are:
- Start with a good pan, either nonstick or one like MadeIn. I switch off between GreenPan and MadeIn (both linked).
- Pat your salmon dry before you begin
- Heat oil over medium high heat before placing the salmon in the pan.
- Add salmon, skin side down, and don't touch it for 3 minutes. The salmon will start to release when ready.
- The key here, even after flipping, is to not touch the salmon. Don't move it around. Don't poke it. Just let it get nice and crispy.
- I love using one pan for this recipe!! Just wipe up any excess oil and start on the spinach in the same pan while your salmon rests. The creamy spinach sauce cooks quickly.
What to Serve with a Creamy Sauce for Salmon
This sauce is really versatile and I've actually made it with chicken or other types of fish. See this recipe for Creamy Rosemary Chicken which is really similar.
I love to serve it along with rice or quinoa (as seen here). Potatoes or mashed cauliflower would also be great. Since you're getting the creamy spinach already, half of the side dish work is done!
Looking for another easy fish recipe? Try this Mediterranean Baked Halibut, which cooks on one sheet pan in under 20 minutes. Also stay tuned later this week for a really interesting post about wine and migraine!
Pan-Seared Salmon with Creamy Garlic Spinach
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pieces salmon filets
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream *
- ¼ cup vegetable broth
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 9-12 oz fresh spinach leaves
- 1 tablespoon flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
- kosher salt and pepper
- Pat your salmon filets dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with a little bit of kosher salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, until shimmering. Be careful that it doesn't smoke. You want your pan to be hot so the salmon doesn't stick to it and it gets nice and crispy. Add salmon, skin side down first and sear for 3 minutes, until brown and crispy. Flip and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes or more, depending on the thickness of your salmon.
- Remove the salmon from your pan, cover, and set aside. If there's a lot of excess oil in the pan, I prefer to wipe it with a paper towel. Add your butter along with the garlic and shallot, cooking for 1-2 minutes. Then add vegetable broth, red pepper flakes, and cream, bringing everything to a low simmer. Stir consistently until the sauce thickens and reduces a little bit. Add your spinach and stir until lightly wilted - around 3-4 minutes. Season the spinach with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place creamed spinach on the plate and top with crispy salmon (you can remove the skin if you'd like). Top with parsley.
- Substitute coconut cream for dairy free. See post for notes on how to thicken, if needed.