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Roasted Salmon, Quinoa & Butternut Squash

May 2, 2012

… a quick and savory dinner.

Do you have friends who make salmon for dinner, like, A LOT?? And everyone is into healthy with a capital THHH. That’s great, I am too. But does it have to simply broiled, siempre siempre tamid tamid?? (if you recognized the two languages, pat yourself on the back!)

Don’t get me wrong. I ain’t complaining and I ain’t biting the hands that feed me (us) and I’m not even thinking of anyone in particular. AND I also love broiled salmon. But the other evening at dinner I mentioned the way I made salmon the night before and was really surprised to see the women quickly turn and gather ’round as if I was E.F. Hutton. Broiling-good. Marinating-good. Glazing-good. *Shmearing-good. All good. So here is a quick and savory shmear for you. Plus, a couple of sides that are wonderfully adaptable to what’s on hand.

*Shmear: from Yiddish, noun meaning a batch of the things that go together, most often as a spread. Also verb, as in, to spread.

I remembered long ago, a friend telling me that her husband and kids refused to eat chicken or fish UNLESS she slathered it with mayo before popping it in the oven.  In thinking about what I could do quickly with what I had on hand, this came to mind.

  • Slather=Excess
  • Shmear=Moderation
  • Shmear+Herbs+Lemon Juice=Delicious+ Healthy

That’s the New Math!

dill for salmon, dill for quinoa, dill for soup…

This gorgeously abundant bunch of dill was beckoning from the market…

Now this is a terribly complicated technique – one that is only practiced by the the most experienced of the experienced. Please pay close attention:

  1. Wash dill
  2. Pat dry.
  3. Lay on lightly greased baking pan in an arrangement that is pleasing to you.

highly complex and intricate step

That’s the kind of move I like.

Uh huh uh huh and that‘s the way, uh huh uh huh I like it, uh huh uh huh (slap me, Lulu, for the sake of the readership).

Uh, I’m back. Now to continue this highly complex procedure – if you’re feeling fancy, lay a few slices of lemon over the dill and then lay on the fish, drizzle with the tiniest bit of olive oil and add salt and freshly ground black pepper.

waiting for my shmear

The shmear is highly complex: a small amount of mayo mixed with a smaller amount of mustard, a few squeezes of lemon juice, salt and pepper and a little chopped dill (to further the featured herb-of-the-week theme).  I know you can do it. Your dinner party guests will be highly appreciative (that’s right, Anat!). Other fresh herbs can be substituted: oregano, tarragon, rosemary. Stick with one and play it up.

an easy shmear for fish or chicken

And here comes an extra- we have LOTS of leftover freshly-ground horseradish from Passover (was that just a few weeks ago? seems like longer).

I got a wonderful tip this year (thanks, Joan) that Magee’s in the Farmers Market on Fairfax & Third not only grinds fresh horseradish for you around Passover, but for a nominal charge, will sell you the top of the horseradish root as well!

My Novio came home with three horseradish tops and they graced our Seder table along with everything else. The little green leaves, symbolizing hope and optimism, sprouting up from the gnarled root. Just like life – joy in hardship, hardship in joy.

Tender leaves come up from horseradish root

I tend toward the philosophical around holidays (ok, other times too).

So back to my simple meal (ha ha).

I have fresh horseradish around, so I used it by mixing it with a little mayo and a pinch of sugar. Ta-da! A horseradish sauce!

quick & easy horseradish sauce

And now for the quinoa…

By the way, if you’re doing a meal like this, think about getting all your ingredients chopped up first, cut up the squash, make the quinoa, roast the squash, assemble the fish dish and roast it last.

I sometimes toast the quinoa first, then bring to boil in seasoned water or a water/broth mixture, and simmer until water is absorbed (like rice).

seasoning the quinoa

cooking quinoa in brothy water

Herb blend with garlic, olive oil & lemon

Savory herbed quinoa

And onto the butternut squash…

Spice blend for butternut squash

There are a ridiculous number of ways to vary spices. Sometimes I use cinnamon with butternut squash. I use cumin all the time. And Garam Masala is a wonderfully warm and pungent blend of seasonings that’s not only a mainstay in curries but is a strong stand-alone. As you can see in the above photo,  the Garam Masala has been in overdrive in my kitchen and is taking a moment for some much-needed rest.

One quick way to prepare veggies for roasting is to cut them up, toss in a plastic bag, add oil, then seasonings, close bag and shake. Then empty onto roasting pan in single layer and roast. I added a bit too much oil in my zeal so they didn’t brown the way I love but were delicious anyway.

roasted and seasoned butternut squash

And that, is a quick meal… in a lot of words!



olive oil, a few drizzles
fresh dill. 4-6 whole sprigs
lemon slices
1- 1/2 lb. salmon
1 T. mayonnaise (best-quality)
1 t. Dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 t. dill, chopped


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cover baking dish in aluminum foil for quick clean-up. Lightly grease pan with olive oil or cooking spray.

Wash whole sprigs of dill, pat dry and lay in pan. Place 4-6 thinly sliced lemon slices over top. Lay salmon over the dill/lemon. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over top and a small amount of salt & pepper.

Mix mayo, lemon juice, small amount of salt & pepper in little bowl. Add chopped dill.

With back of spoon, shmear (see definition above!) mayo mixture over fish.

Bake uncovered in oven for 14- 16 minutes until just firm to touch. Remove from oven and lightly tent with foil for a few minutes.


Garnish with lemon slices, cucumber slices or both.

Instead of dill, try using fresh rosemary, cilantro, oregano, thyme, fennel tops (looks like dill, smells like licorice) or tarragon.

Goes well with horseradish sauce below.

Easy Horseradish Sauce:

2 T.  mayo

2 t. freshly grated horseradish (or more or less to taste)

a pinch or two of sugar

Mix to combine. Serve as a side with fish.

(Can use prepared white horseradish -experiment with the amount needed.)

Savory Herbed Quinoa


1 c. quinoa
1 t. olive oil
1/2 t. broth concentrate(Better than Boullion)
2 c. water (or use 1/2 water and 1/2 broth and omit broth concentrate)
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 T. fresh herb mix- Italian parsley and dill,  finely chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 T. olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt & pepper


Heat a little olive oil in pan and toast quinoa, stirring a bit for 2-3 minutes, until it gets fragrant and toasty, Pour water/broth into saucepan and bring to boil. (If you’re in a rush, place quinoa, oil,  and water/broth in saucepan and bring to a boil.) Cover (askew) and simmer on low/moderate heat for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat source, cover and let it rest until water is absorbed. Fluff with fork and place in bowl.

Mix chopped fresh herbs with olive oil and garlic. Add to quinoa. Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

bb notes:

Experiment with herbs and savory ingredients when preparing quinoa, just as you can with couscous, Israeli couscous (LOVE IT), brown rice or other grains. Instead of green onion, try minced shallot or red onion. Add toasted pine nuts or sliced almonds, or toasted and chopped pecans, walnuts or pistachios. Keep your mix simple so that individual flavors can shine.

Roasted Butternut Squash


1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 t. granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. Garam Masala


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Place cubed butternut squash in plastic bag. Add just enough oil to moisten (gently pour a little oil at a time, think in terms of teaspoons). Add seasonings, close bag and toss well to combine. Tumble squash onto roasting pan and spread in single layer.

Roast for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through, until just starting to brown.

Option: As an alternate, toss squash with oil and seasonings right in pan – your hands, clean of course, are your most effective kitchen tool. If that’s not your thing, use two spoons and pretend you’re tossing a salad.

Use this technique with all types of veggies and seasonings. Roasting times and temps will vary.

Recipes above make 4-5 servings.


From → Fish, Mains, Sides, Veggies

  1. Arlene permalink

    Hi Judy

    For many years Sid has been grating our horseradish for Passover and we usually have enough to last all year – it stays pretty much as strong as when he first makes it. We also do it a week or so in advance so we can grow the top for our Seder plate. And did you know that eating a spoon of horseradish is great for sinuses


  2. Lulu permalink

    Hey Jujubelle,
    Won’t slap you, but we in readership land are glad there is no audio on your blog 🙂
    Love you and your yummy recipes

  3. Laura Linkoff permalink

    hello dahlink….any ideas for making a quinoa salad or easy quinoa vegetable dish…got a BBQ coming up in a few days and am looking for some vegetarian ideas for those who don’t eat burgers and hotdogs [how un-American] or can’t have wheat, gluten, fructose, corn syrup, night shades, etc….also, for those vegetarians in the crowd…many tenks

    • Hi Lulu- OK, prepare quinoa according to directions in this post. If you don’t want to use all the herbs I suggested, pick what you like. Here are a few ideas to be tossed into quinoa once placed in a bowl: 2 diced small cucumbers,1 diced tomato (or a cup of halved cherry or grape tomatoes)OR 1 c.cut-up broccoli florets (steamed or microwaved until barely tender with shredded carrots or just-tender diced carrots OR 1 ear of corn (roasted, grilled or cooked) cut off the cob and mixed in with some cilantro or parsley OR 1 c. roasted asparagus or steamed green beans, cut up small.You can use very thinly sliced red onion in lieu of green onion to boost flavor. And that’s what I think, keeping in mind what’s in season right now. Have a great BBQ, dahlink!

  4. Wendy permalink

    Made this last night for a dinner party of 14 artists.
    It was a simple straight ahead recipe that didn’t stress me out,
    plus, everyone loved it!

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  1. Quinoa with Broccoli and Lemon | bumbleberry breeze
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