Mediterranean Salmon Skillet

4.87 from 23 votes
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This Mediterranean Salmon Skillet meal features pan-seared salmon, burst cherry tomato couscous, and an olive-pistachio salsa. Made in one pan in right around 40 minutes, this salmon dinner is equal parts nutritious and delicious.Salmon over couscous in a skillet topped with olive salsa

It’s rare to find a recipe that’s both weeknight-friendly and worthy of company, however this one surely fits the bill. Succulent salmon fillets nestled in a saucy skillet of fennel, tomatoes, and couscous, and finished with a bright, briny salsa.

One bite will have you convinced it’s worthy of any restaurant menu.

This recipe takes advantage of salmon’s versatility and its healthy richness by pairing it with ingredients that bring out its best qualities. And while I have many reliable trusty salmon recipes (see Chili-Lemon Sheet Pan Salmon Dinner or Curried Maple Mustard Salmon), this one tastes especially impressive.

Plus, it will make you feel like a total salmon master.A tan bowl filled with couscous, salmon, olive salsa, and lemon

How to Make Mediterranean Salmon

The secret to the perfect salmon sear is to get that skillet nice and HOT and don’t disturb the fish while it cooks. I like to start it skin side-down to develop a nice crust before flipping it. 

Just be sure to not OVERCOOK the salmon, or you’ll miss out on its natural buttery flakiness. Here are two ways to tell if your fish is done cooking. 

  • Use an instant read thermometer. Fish is done at 145ºF, but I like to pull my salmon closer to 140ºF and let it rest. The carryover cooking will allow it to reach the optimal internal temperature.
  • Alternatively, you can gently press down on the top of the fillet with a fork or your finger, and see if the flesh easily flakes.

The IngredientsSalmon skillet ingredients on a white board with blue labels

  • Salmon: You need four 6-oz. salmon fillets for this recipe, which can be wild-caught or sustainably farmed. If purchasing wild, I suggest either King (or Chinook) salmon, which has a higher fat content and richer flavor. Sockeye, on the other hand, is much leaner and easier to overcook.
  • Israeli Couscous: Also called pearl couscous, these plump, chewy grains have a quick cook time. Made with semolina flour (much like pasta), they’re a versatile, hearty grain option. If you’re making this recipe gluten free, you can use quinoa instead.
  • Fennel: If you’re not a fan of fennel yet, this recipe will certainly convert you. This recipe also calls for fennel seeds in the salsa, which adds licorice-like flavor.
    • Bonus: just one cup of fennel offers almost 20% of your recommended daily value of vitamin C. You’ll also find plenty of iron, fiber, and potassium. 
  • Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes cook into the couscous to create a jammy, sweet, umami-rich sauce. 
  • Olives: For the salsa, I prefer using a Castelvetrano olive, which is buttery and sweet. Alternatively, you can use Manzanilla olives.
  • Pistachios: I love the flavor and richness of roasted pistachios in the salsa. If you can find them already shelled, it helps cut back on prep work. 
  • Harissa: Harissa has a slightly smoky spiciness with bright acidity and earthy undertones, and is a great shortcut ingredient to achieving big flavor. I love the flavor and spice it adds to this Mediterranean Salmon.
  • Lemon: For brightness and zing, you need the juice of 1 whole lemon. 

The Directions

The magic of this recipe lies in its single skillet preparation. Less dishes for the WIN.

Step 1: Sear the Salmon

Pat salmon dry with a paper towel, and season flesh evenly with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high. Once hot, arrange salmon fillets, skin side-down, in the pan, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the skin easily releases from the pan. Gently flip fillets, lower the heat to medium, and cook until the salmon is cooked through and easily flakes with the pressure of a fork, about 3 to 4 more minutes. 

Transfer salmon to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.Four salmon fillets being seared in a cast iron skillet

Step 2: Sauté Fennel and Tomatoes

Add fennel to the skillet, and cook until brown on the bottom, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, and toss with fennel and oil. Continue cooking until fennel begins to soften and tomatoes are blistered, about 3 more minutes. Stir in harissa, and season mixture with salt. Fennel and cherry tomatoes being sautéed in a black skillet

Step 3: Cook Couscous

Add couscous to the pan; cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add water, and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until most of the water is absorbed and couscous is tender, about 11 to 14 minutes.Couscous being cooked until al dente in a skillet

Step 4: Prepare Olive-Pistachio Salsa

While the couscous cooks, prepare salsa by combining olives, pistachios, parsley, garlic, remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, chili flakes, and salt; stir to combine.Olive-pistachio salsa being mixed in a gold bowl

Step 5: Add Salmon Back to Skillet

Once the couscous is cooked, remove lid and nestle salmon fillets back into pan. Continue cooking, uncovered, 2 more minutes to warm salmon. Spoon olive-pistachio salsa overtop, and serve immediately. Salmon being added to a skillet of couscous, tomatoes, and fennel

Storage Tips:

  • To Store. Refrigerate leftover salmon and couscous in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days. Store salsa separately for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Gently rewarm salmon and couscous in a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. If needed, add a splash of water or broth to help rehydrate the grains. Top with leftover salsa after reheating, and you have a delicious salmon dinner in a pinch.
  • To Freeze. Freeze leftover salmon and couscous in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. I do not suggest freezing salsa.

More Salmon Dinner Recipes to Try:

Pesto Salmon with Roasted Tomato Orzo

Blackened Salmon with Avocado Ranch and Coconut Rice

Firecracker Salmon BowlsA fork flaking a piece of Mediterranean salmon in a bowl

If you give this Mediterranean Salmon Skillet a try, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. I also really appreciate readers taking the time to leave a rating and review! Lastly, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates.

4.87 from 23 votes

Mediterranean Salmon Skillet

This Mediterranean Salmon Skillet meal features pan-seared salmon, burst cherry tomato couscous, and an olive-pistachio salsa. Made in one pan in right under 40 minutes, this salmon dinner is equal parts nutritious and delicious.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Large skillet
  • Mixing bowl

Ingredients  

  • 4 (6-oz.) salmon fillets
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. mild harissa paste (such as Mina brand)
  • 1 cup dry Israeli (or "pearl") couscous

Olive-Pistachio Salsa

  • 3 Tbsp. pitted and finely chopped green olives (such as Castelvetrano olives)
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped pistachios (preferably roasted and salted)
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or grated
  • 1/4 tsp. chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
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Instructions 

  • Pat salmon dry with a paper towel, and season flesh evenly with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
    Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high. Once hot, arrange salmon fillets, skin side-down, in the pan, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the skin easily releases from the pan. Gently flip fillets, lower the heat to medium, and cook until the salmon is cooked through and easily flakes with the pressure of a fork, about 3 to 4 more minutes. 
    Transfer salmon to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Add fennel wedges to the skillet, and cook until brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, and toss with fennel and oil. Continue cooking until fennel softens and tomatoes are blistered, about 3 more minutes.
    Stir in harissa and couscous; cook, stirring frequently, until the grains are lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups water, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper; bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until most of the water is absorbed and couscous is tender, about 12 to 14 minutes.
  • While the couscous cooks, prepare salsa by combining olives, pistachios, parsley, garlic, chili flakes, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt; mix well.
  • Once the couscous is cooked, remove lid and nestle salmon fillets back into pan. Continue cooking, uncovered, 2 more minutes to warm salmon. Spoon olive-pistachio salsa over salmon, and serve immediately. 

Notes

To Store. Refrigerate leftover salmon and couscous in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days. Store salsa separately for up to 3 days.
To Reheat. Gently rewarm salmon and couscous in a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. If needed, add a splash of water or broth to help rehydrate the grains. Top with leftover salsa after reheating.
To Freeze. Freeze leftover salmon and couscous in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. I do not suggest freezing salsa.
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Recipe Rating




30 Comments

  1. Brian says:

    5 stars
    Excellent. Added asparagus and spinach. Made my own harissa w/o the dried peppers. Used quinoa instead of couscous. Flavourful and delicious.

  2. Sully says:

    3 stars
    This was delicious but TOO spicy for me! I also felt like it needed something to tone down the acidity of the couscous (a creamy sauce/coconut milk added/etc). I added 1 tablespoon of harissa, contrasted to the 2 tablespoons recommended, and it was still too hot for me! But overall the dish was good.

  3. Josie says:

    5 stars
    My husband announced this was the best salmon dish I ever made. And I’ve made a lot of salmon. Thanks!

  4. Jen says:

    5 stars
    I made this for dinner yesterday and it was so delicious! Every time I make one of your recipes, I am always in awe that such a delicious dish could come from my kitchen! This meal was restaurant quality and such a refreshingly different combination of flavors. I don’t like fennel so I subbed it for onions and I didn’t have pistachios so just left those out of the salsa and it was still amazing! Like others here, I often fall into a rut of plain baked salmon, so this was such a nice change!

  5. Jenny says:

    5 stars
    What a wonderful combination of flavors to delight the palette. This farm girl grew up on casseroles from an Iowa church cookbook. Making recipes such as this are a stretch. Even the trip to the grocery story to buy the ingredients was an adventure. The end result was rewarding and worth all the effort. Such a wow factor!

  6. Jenny says:

    5 stars
    What a wonderful combination of flavors to delight the palette. This farm girl grew up on casseroles from an Iowa church cookbook. Making recipes such as this are a stretch. Even the trip to the grocery story to buy the ingredients was an adventure. The end result was rewarding and worth all the effort. Such a wow factor!

  7. Diana Fontain says:

    5 stars
    Delicious meal!! This is what I always hoped eating healthy would taste like. A true restaurant-level meal that I will surely make again!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Diana – I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! Thank you for coming back and leaving a review!

  8. Maria M says:

    5 stars
    Fabulous dish! Loved how the flavors came together and infused each component.

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Maria – I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for taking time to leave a review!