Skip the Restaurant: 10 Meal Ideas to Cook for Valentine's Day

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Blackened Salmon and Strawberry Salad
Courtesy Laura Lea Balanced7/10

Blackened Salmon and Strawberry Salad


For seasoning:

  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt

For salad ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup raw pecans
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 sweet potato (peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2–3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 salmon filets (wild if possible, pin bones removed, skin on or off)
  • 1 lemon
  • 6 oz organic baby spinach
  • white balsamic vinegar
  • 2–3 oz goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup strawberries (hull removed and thinly sliced)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Add raw pecans to one sheet and sweet potatoes to another. Drizzle one tablespoon olive oil and sea salt on sweet potatoes and use fingers to coat evenly.
  2. Combine all ingredients for blackening seasoning in a small bowl. Lay your salmon filets side by side on a plate, skinless side up. Cover tops evenly with blackening seasoning. Set aside.
  3. Place pecans and sweet potatoes in the oven. Roast pecans for 8–10 minutes or until fragrant. While pecans are roasting, add maple syrup and two tablespoons water to a small sauce pot. Heat and stir so liquid is warm but not bubbling.
  4. Remove pecans from oven and add to sauce pot. Stir to coat evenly, then turn pecans onto another piece of clean parchment or a cooling rack. Set side.
  5. Sweet potatoes will roast for 30 minutes or until soft and caramelized around the edges. While they are roasting, heat a cast-iron skillet (can sub another skillet) to medium-high heat. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil. When oil begins to smoke, add your salmon filets side by side, skinless side facing down. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until you can move a spatula underneath salmon. Note: If it sticks, it's not ready. Flip filets and cook the skin side, three to four minutes or until crispy. If filets are not cooked as thoroughly as you like in the middle, put the pan in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. When you are finished cooking salmon, slice your lemon in half and garnish filets with fresh lemon juice. Remove sweet potatoes from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  7. Assemble your salad: Toss spinach with a light coating of white balsamic vinegar. Top spinach with one salmon filet, a handful of pecans, a handful of strawberry slices, a scoop of sweet potatoes, and a few crumbles of goat cheese.

Recipe courtesy of Laura Lea Goldberg of LL Balanced

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