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This Grilled Salmon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette is loaded with bright veggies, healthy for you salmon and topped with an herbaceous pistou-based vinaigrette that will have you saying mmmmm with that very first bite!
Grilled Salmon, Crisp Veggies + Fresh Basil Vinaigrette
I love salmon in all its forms, but when it comes to cooking methods, the grill is my favorite! It cooks so quickly, and then you get that subtle smokiness and the flavor from the caramelization of the grill grates. Dang. So good!
And, it just makes sense to pair this rich fish with a salad of crisp greens and bright vegetables. Throw in some tender baby potatoes (because, carbs), sweet dried apricots for a little balance, tangy goat cheese and this pistou-based basil vinaigrette — your taste buds will be singing!
Gather Your Supplies + Ingredients
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Two separate saucepans are helpful so you can have the beans and potatoes cooking at the same time.
This is not a side salad. I repeat. This is not a side salad! If you were ordering at a restaurant, this would be listed under ‘Dinner Salads’. It’s got everything you need for a belly filling meal, but at a respectable 495 calories (yay for salads!).
- fresh basil
- fresh grated parmesan
- extra virgin olive oil
- lemon juice
- center-cut salmon fillets
- baby or fingerling potatoes
- french beans (or green beans)
- mixed greens
- dried apricots
- cherry tomatoes
- goat cheese
- red wine vinegar
- dijon mustard
- kosher salt + fresh cracked pepper
The Big Parts of this Grilled Salmon Recipe
What is Pistou Anyway?
To put it simply, it’s the French version of pesto. Traditionally, it’s made with basil, garlic and olive oil, but cheese can be added. The big departure is that it does not include nuts.
To make pistou, place your ingredients directly into the food processor:
- De-stem the basil. We only want the leaves.
- Mince the garlic or put them through a garlic press.
- Grate (or measure) the parmesan.
- Add the olive oil and kosher salt.
Let it run for 20 to 30 seconds until all the ingredients are combined. That’s it! Super easy. The pistou is the base for both the salmon marinade and the salad dressing.
Marinate the Salmon: Combine 4 tablespoons of pistou with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Brush this all over the flesh of the salmon. Leave it on the counter while you prepare the cooked veggies. Taking the chill off the salmon will help it cook more evenly on the grill.
Make the Vinaigrette: Combine 2 tablespoons of pistou with olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard and salt + pepper.
Boil Some Water
If you have 2 saucepans, that will make this go all the more faster. But first, you want to make an ice bath by combining ice and cold water in a bowl. You’ll want this ready before you boil the beans.
Fill one saucepan with 6 cups of water and put that on high heat. Next, place the baby potatoes in the other pan and fill it with water until the water level is about 1 inch over the potatoes. Set that pan over high heat as well.
For the beans: once the water is boiling, salt the water, then add the beans. Let them cook for 2 to 3 minutes only! Tell Siri to set a timer for you. We’re looking for crisp tender texture. As soon as the time is up, drain the beans and immediately toss them into the ice bath. This will stop the cooking process and leave you with vibrant, green French beans!
For the potatoes: Start your timer for 5 minutes as soon as the water comes to a boil. (Siri can’t run two timers at once, so maybe Alexa can help you out.) Drain the potatoes when done, then tumble them onto your cutting board to cool.
Salmon on the Grill
After preheating the grill, set it up for 2-zone cooking: set one side on high heat and the other side on low heat. If you’re using a charcoal grill, achieve this by pushing the coals over to one side.
It’s important to oil the grates just before placing then fish on. Use a wadded up paper towel on the end of a long pair of tongs. Saturate the paper towel with vegetable oil (or other high smoke point oil) and rub it across the grate.
Grill the salmon, skin side down, on the hot side with the lid closed for 6 minutes. If your grill is sufficiently hot, the skin will release when it’s time to flip the fish. After the 6 minutes, oil the cooler side of the grill. Carefully slide a spatula under the skin, move the salmon to the cooler side, and flip it over so the flesh side is down. Close the cover and cook for 2 more minutes. Again, carefully slide the spatula under the fish to remove it from the grill.
Final Thoughts on Grilled Salmon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
You may end up with a couple extra tablespoons of pistou. Freeze it to use later or refrigerate it to use in the next day or two:
- Marinate some chicken breasts
- Toss it with pasta
- Drizzle it on homemade pizza
- Combine with cooked rice or quinoa for easy basil pilaf
- Make a classic Soupe au Pistou
Can you eat the salmon skin? Sure! But, it’s totally ok to peel it off before assembling your salad. Grill the salmon with the skin on, though — it’ll help keep it together while it cooks. You don’t want lose those precious omega-3s between the grates!
If you like this recipe and want to try some of my other seafood dishes, check these out:
- Pan Seared Scallops over Greens with Mandarin Orange Dressing
- Mac + Cheese with Lobster
- Crispy Breaded Fish Sandwiches with Slaw
Grilled Salmon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
- Food Processor
- Sauce Pans
- 4 oz fresh basil leaves only
- 2 medium cloves garlic pressed or minced
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 5-6 oz salmon fillets center cut, skin on
- 8 oz baby or fingerling potatoes skin on
- 8 oz french beans trimmed
- 5 oz mixed greens
- 8 dried apricots diced
- 16 cherry tomatoes halved
- 2 oz goat cheese crumbled
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- kosher salt + fresh cracked pepper
Make the Pistou
- Put all the ingredients for the pistou in the bowl of your food processor. Run it for 20-30 seconds to combine. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
Marinate the Salmon
- Combine 4 tbsp of pistou with 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Place the salmon on a dish and brush the pistou-lemon marinade all over the salmon flesh. Allow this to rest on your counter for about 20 minutes while you prep the remaining salad ingredients. Taking the chill off the fish will help it cook evenly on the grill.
Make the Vinaigrette
- Combine 2 tbsp of pistou with olive oil, red wine vinegar (or lemon juice), and dijon. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.
Prep the Salad Ingredients
- Fill a bowl witih ice water and set it aside.
- Fill one saucepan with 6 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Salt the water then add the French beans and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the beans and immediately add them to the ice water to stop cooking and set their color. Once sufficiently cooled down, remove them from the ice bath to drain.
- While you wait for the bean water to boil, place the whole baby potatoes in another saucepan and cover them with water, about 1 inch over. Set it over high heat to boil, then allow them to cook for 5 minutes under boil. Drain them and set aside to cool. Cut the potatoes in half or in quarters so they are bite sized.
Grill the Salmon
- Preheat your clean grill until it reaches about 500°F. Then, set it up for 2 zone cooking: one side should be left on high heat, the other side on lower heat. If using a charcoal grill, push coals to one side to achieve 2 zones.
- Place a wad of paper towels on the end of tongs, and saturate with vegetable oil to grease the grates on the hot side. Reserve to grease the cool side.
- Place the salmon, skin side down, on the hot side of the grill and cover. Cook for 6 minutes. Grease the cool side of the grate. Using a long spatula, carefully check that the skin releases from the grate, then move the fillets to the cooler side of the grill and flip them flesh side down. Cover and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Carefully remove them to a plate.
Assemble the Salad
- Divide salad greens between 4 plates. Next, evenly distribute the French beans, potatoes, cherry tomatoes and apricots across the salad. Crumble ½ oz of goat cheese onto each plate, then drizzle with vinaigrette. Finally, place one piece of salmon on each salad.