Zero cleanup and 30 minutes from start to finish? I’m buying in.
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Smoky-Sweet Baked Salmon in Parchment
Credit: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

In case you haven't read, my husband and I relish finding new ways to prepare our weekly salmon suppers. In an effort to eat a little healthier and take advantage of our local grocery store's questionably affordable salmon fillets, we've been steadily cooking it at least once a week. So anytime Southern Living publishes a new recipe for salmon, I feel obligated to give it a try in our regimen.

The latest and greatest? Smoky-Sweet Baked Salmon in Parchment. After a quick glance over the recipe page, I was sold.

First, it only calls for 15 minutes of hands-on time, and it's on the table in 30. When it comes to weeknights, fast recipes are simply a given in our house; if it can't be done in about 45 minutes or less, it's usually getting cut from the menu.

Second, the fact that this salmon recipe is baked in parchment paper means the cleanup afterward is minimal. Everyone knows the worst part about cooking is cleaning, and I always factor in how many dishes come into play when deciding if I'm going to make a recipe.

You need one large bowl to toss your veggies with oil and seasonings and one small bowl to stir together your mustard mixture that goes on top of the salmon. Both of those bowls can be thrown in the dishwasher while everything is in the oven (say it with me: clean as you go). Since both the salmon and the veggies bake nice and safely in their parchment packets, the sheet pan they're on will only need a quick rinse before you close the kitchen for the night.

The third aspect that I loved upon checking out this Smoky-Sweet Baked Salmon in Parchment is that despite the lengthy name, I had just about every ingredient already in my kitchen. I was intrigued by the combination of stone-ground mustard, dark brown sugar, smoked paprika, orange slices, and fresh thyme that promised "bold flavors." And bold they were! Our go-to pairings with salmon are honey-soy, balsamic glaze, or honey-mustard, and this was totally out of left field (in the best way). The smoky paprika, sweet brown sugar, bright, tangy oranges, and herby, floral thyme sang an unexpectedly beautiful song together.

Last, this is a truly a light recipe. Salmon is generally good for you, but I personally get carried away while drowning it in a salty or fatty sauce. Not only is the parchment paper method great for easy cleanup, it's also a healthy way to prepare salmon. Since steaming everything in parchment retains moisture, the recipe doesn't require as much cooking oil or fat as it would on the stovetop. The recipe suggests serving the parchment-steamed salmon and veggies over rice, but we had a big batch of quinoa already prepped for the week, so we enjoyed it with that instead.

Now that I have the blueprint for an incredible parchment paper recipe for salmon, I may never prepare it differently again.