Paleo, Whole30, Vegan Option, Super Refreshing:
Spring is here! And if you’re like me that means all of a sudden your urge to eat green things has skyrocketed. Enter, this delicious Cucumber Noodle Salad complimented with my Easy Lemon Wild Salmon.
This dish has so many fresh, bright ingredients, it truly encompasses the feeling of the spring season. The Cucumber Noodle Salad has a simple dressing of lemon juice and olive oil, the I added in some chopped sugar snap peas and tossed it all with finely cut basil, mint, and scallions, and raw pistachios. SO good! And so simple.
The cucumber noodles are achieved using a fun kitchen gadget called the Spiralizer. It turns anything that is solid enough to stay on the little spikes, into noodles! Beets, sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, apples…these are all great options. It is really easy to use and quickly turns your cucumbers into a unique dish. Since owning one, I’ve given these as gifts to, like, probably 4 or 5 family members, though my Dad has admitted he still needs to step up his Spiralizing game (hint, hint, you should make this recipe Dad!).
These really are a great addition to your culinary toolbox if you want to put a creative spin on your meal. PLUS, you can reduce your dependency on refined-flour, carb-heavy, pasta and replace it with something way healthier.
The Easy Lemon Wild Salmon is such a quick way to get some lean protein into this meal. All you need is a nice cut of wild salmon (keep reading to learn more about why wild is important), some lemons, a little avocado oil, salt, and pepper. Voila! Impressive, simple, delectable, and nutritious.
Why You Should Eat It
Cucumbers are one of my favorite vegetables, though I guess they are technically a fruit, but who cares because, let’s be real, I think most of us refer to them as a vegetable. Anyway, cucumbers are super crisp and refreshing because they’re mostly made of water. This means you actually get hydration from eating them plus they contain electrolytes like magnesium, potassium, and even a little calcium. Not only do electrolytes like these help to keep you hydrated, they’re also really important for balancing the acidity of your blood, maintaining healthy blood pressure, and keeping your muscles strong. Their skin contains Vitamin C, so it’s better to leave it on, which you won’t even notice when you make these yummy noodles!
Pistachios. We’re all used to the mindless cracking of these cute little green nuts that it’s easy to forget you can buy them without the shell. Whaaaa? Yep, you can. I love their unique taste in this dish, their crunch, and the extra shade of green they bring. Pistachios are a great source of plant-based protein, so if you’re making a Vegan meal just skip the salmon and make one big bowl of this! They are really high in Vitamins B1 and B6. B1, called thiamin, is really important for the nervous system, mood, cognition, and the cardiovascular system, all while helping to turn your food into energy. B6, AKA pyroxidine, contributes to these same benefits, and it also specifically helps make neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and melatonin, helping you feel good and sleep well.
Moving on to the salmon. It’s always best to buy wild caught because it is nutritionally superior and overall cleaner. It has a much higher anti-inflammatory omega-3 content than farmed salmon and most other types of fish in general at that. Farmed salmon are crowded into pens, treated with antibiotics, and often infected with “fish lice” – gross! They easily pass disease to one another because of these living conditions, so you end up eating a fish that lived a sickly life. Wild salmon, on the other hand, eat a natural diet, are able to follow their normal migration and mating patterns, and enjoy fresher waters. All Alaskan salmon is wild, so if you see this on a label you know you’re safe.
How You Can Make It
Start by making the dressing for your Cucumber Noodle Salad, just combine the fresh lemon juice, olive oil, fine grain sea salt, and pepper in a jar, shake vigorously, and set aside.
Next, make the cucumber noodles! This part is fun and would be a great way to have a little one help out in the kitchen. Use firmer cucumbers so they’ll hold up against the spikes on the spiralizer. I suggest cutting them into fourths. Otherwise, you’ll get a never ending noodle like in Lady and the Tramp, which might be fun depending on the kind of meal you’re going for!
Spiralize all the cucumbers into noodles, then place in a colander and set aside, in case there is a little juice drippage. Now on to the herbs.
A chiffonade is a very thin type of cut, great for cutting delicate herbs and providing a pretty presentation. It helps to roll your mint and basil leaves lengthwise, then just make very tiny slices from the bottom of the leaf to the top, and you end up with nice, thin, strips of herbs to toss in your salad. For the scallions, you can just make some thin slices along the green stem, creating tiny circles.
Transfer your noodles from the colander to a bowl and toss with the dressing, chopped sugar snaps peas, herbs, and chopped pistachios. YUM! This Cucumber Noodle Salad smells so fresh and inviting, thanks to the mint and basil. Put the bowl in the fridge to chill while you work on this incredibly easy Lemon Wild Salmon.
If you are looking for your own Spiralizer, here’s a link to a great one through Amazon. (As part of the Amazon Affiliates program, I do get a small commission for anything you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you.)Spiralizer 5-Blade Vegetable Slicer
Season the salmon beforehand with ground pepper and large flaked sea salt.
Then, spray your pan with some avocado oil and heat it at medium-high. Once warmed, turn the heat down to medium-low before adding your salmon. * This part is key * I forgot once and had some extra charred salmon skin and a very smelly house.
Add your salmon to the pan, skin side down. Cook 7-10 minutes until the filet looks like it’s about ¾ of the way cooked through on the sides. Then, squeeze ½ lemon wedge over the salmon and flip. Cook for another 5 minutes. These times could depend on how thick your cut of salmon is, so just keep an eye on it. Then, you’re Easy Lemon Wild Salmon is done! Was it easy enough for you? This goes so well with the fresh, crunchy, texture and bright flavors of the Cucumber Noodle Salad. I hope you enjoy it and bring in Spring on a happy, healthy note.
Cucumber Noodle Salad with Easy Lemon Wild Salmon
Yield 2-3 servings
Crunchy, refreshing cucumber noodles tossed with sugar snap peas, fresh mint, basil, scallions, and raw pistachios alongside an incredibly simple seared salmon. A light, bright meal that is perfect for Spring and Summer.
- 3 cucumbers, cut into quarters
- 1 1/2 large lemons
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt, plus more for salmon
- 1/4 tsp black pepper, plus more for salmon
- 1/2 cup fresh mint
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, plus more for garnish
- 2 scallions
- 1 cup chopped sugar snap peas
- 1 cup chopped raw pistachios, unsalted
- 2 wild salmon filets, 1/4. lb each
- avocado oil for pan
- Mix the juice of 1 lemon in a small jar with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Shake or stir well and set aside.
- Spiralize your cucumbers into noodles, then place into a colander and set aside.
- Chop basil and mint into a chiffonade - roll the leaves lengthwise and then slice from the bottom of leaf to the top, forming nice thin strips.
- Chop the scallions, using just the green parts, into tiny circles down the length of the stem.
- Combine all above ingredients in a bowl, toss gently but thoroughly, top with basil leaves and chill in the fridge while making the salmon.
- Season salmon liberally with sea salt and pepper.
- Spray a pan with avocado oil and heat at medium-high. Once warmed, turn down to medium-low and add salmon, skin side down. Cook for 7-10 minutes (this will depend on how thick it is) but basically you want to watch for it to cook 3/4 of the way through along the sides. Before flipping, squeeze 1/2 lemon over top.
- Flip salmon, and cook for another 5 minutes until cooked through and slightly browned. It should easily release from the pan, if it feels stuck it might need a little longer.
- Serve your Easy Lemon Wild Salmon alongside the Cucumber Noodles Salad, and enjoy!
If you plan to make the Cucumber Noodle Salad ahead of time, hold off on garnishing it so you can toss everything again (the juices settle in the bottom of the bowl), and then garnish, right before serving.
If you want a Vegan meal simply ditch the salmon! You could add garbanzo beans or lentils for an extra dose of protein.