Sheet Pan Salmon with Feta, Tomatoes, Potatoes and Basil
When it comes to cooking, I’m all for breaking rules. Don’t want to salt your eggplant? I give you permission. Like ketchup on your eggs? By all means. Chill your wine with an ice cube? Why not? It’s really about what you like. After all, you’re the one doing the eating. I say all this because today’s recipe breaks a cardinal rule of cooking as far as some folks are concerned. Seafood plus cheese is an apparent no-no, the predominant wisdom in the Italian food culture. It’s said that cheese is too dominant for the delicate quality of seafood. But I’d argue that in this Sheet Pan Salmon with Feta, the fish is flavorful and sturdy enough to stand up to the briny bite of feta. In fact, I kind of consider the two a culinary dream team.
Sheet Pan Salmon with Feta
Just as appealing as the flavors in this dish is the fact that it’s all done on a single sheet pan. Translation: it comes together with relative ease and your only clean up is that sheet pan (plus one weensy bowl you’ll use the stir together a few spices). The cooking part of the process happens in two steps: you first roast onions, cherry tomatoes, and potatoes until they’re about tender. Then, you nestle the fish amongst the vegetables, scatter feta over everything, and finish cooking until the salmon is done.
The Spice Rub for Salmon
The seasoning on the salmon is a mix of cumin, cayenne, sumac, and brown sugar. It’s a savory mix with a tiny hit of both heat and sweetness. If you’ve never used sumac, it’s a Middle Eastern spice that packs a terrific tangy pop wherever it goes. If you can’t track it down, swap in 1 teaspoon paprika instead. That offers a different, though tasty flavor profile as well. You can also use your own spice mix or keep it simple with just salt and pepper.
How to Find Good Feta
I’m finicky about feta, since I find many of the supermarket brands to be a disappointment. To find a good feta, here are a few suggestions:
- Look for cheese made with sheep’s milk, since cow’s milk options tend to lack flavor and be dry to my tastebuds.
- If you have the option, buy a block of feta rather than pre-crumbled cheese, which is often coated in cellulose and dry.
- Look for French and Bulgarian feta, in addition to Greek. I’ve had good luck with all three.
- Consider seeking out a cheesemonger that sells blocks of feta in brine.
- Look for quality brands. Valbreso is one you might find in a mainstream market.
If you like Sheet Pan Salmon with Feta, you might like:
Sheet Pan Lemon Chicken, a recipe I developed for Simply Recipes
Sheet Pan Salmon with Feta and Tomatoes
It's hard to argue with the ease of dinner all done on a single sheet pan. You start by roasting potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and red onions until they're about done. Then add chunks of feta and salmon filets rubbed in a savory spice blend. Feel free to tinker with the spices on the salmon or use a rub of your own favorite herbs and spices. You can also swap in different vegetables (I'm fond of sliced fennel here). It's honestly hard to go wrong with this one.
- 1 pound small waxy potatoes (such as red-skinned or Yukon Gold), cut into slices that are no thicker than 1/4-inch
- 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes
- 1 medium red onion, halved through the stem and cut into ¼-inch-thick wedges
- 1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little extra
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Four 5-6-ounce filets fresh salmon, tiny bones removed
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground sumac
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- A few dashes cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 4 ounces feta
- ½ cup roughly chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 lemon
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.
Pile the potatoes, onion, and cherry tomatoes on the center of the sheet pan. Drizzle with 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, scatter on 1 teaspoon salt, and shower lightly with freshly ground black pepper. Use your hands to toss everything together so it’s evenly coated and spread out on the baking sheet. Roast until the potatoes are just tender enough to eat, about 20 minutes.
While the vegetables roast, season the salmon with ½ teaspoon salt. In a small bowl, stir together the sumac, cumin, cayenne, and brown sugar. Pat the spice mixture over the top and sides of the salmon so it’s evenly coated. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the salmon and then pat down the spices so the filets look glossy.
After about 20 minutes, remove the sheetpan from the oven. Nestle the salmon filets amongst the vegetables. Break the feta into bite-size chunks and scatter over the top. Return to the oven and roast until the salmon is cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes. It’s done when it easily breaks apart with a fork, is nearly opaque, but still has a touch of pink in the center (it will continue to cook a tad after it’s out of the oven.
Squeeze the lemon and scatter the basil over everything. Serve immediately right from the sheet pan. Leftovers store well for a few days in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave just until warm.