Brown Sugar Citrus Glazed Salmon with Scented Quinoa

When I’m trying to eat healthily, salmon is one of my favorite go-to meals. It cooks quickly, it’s high-quality protein, and it makes such a nice change from chicken, which we seem to see too much of around my house. Though I adore shellfish, I’ve never been much of a fish fan (who knows why). My one exception is salmon, and this is my favorite way to serve it!

Salmon with Quinoa | Fefferfit

Swiped from Alton Brown, the salmon recipe is no-fail. I spent a lot of years serving it with white rice or potatoes (delicious), but about a year ago, I decided I was shooting myself in the foot with that. My carbs for that meal were WAY too high and out of balance. So I swapped out the starchy carbs for quinoa, cooked with a little added flavor. It all makes for a punchy, flavorful dinner in about an hour, but only takes about 20 minutes of cooking time. Can’t beat that!

Brown Sugar Citrus-glazed Salmon with Scented Quinoa

  • 1 side, skin-on, salmon, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, bones removed
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For quinoa:

  • 2 T butter
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped finely
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated pepper*


  1. Position a rack in the oven 3 inches from the broiler. Line a half sheet pan with parchment or foil (don’t skip this) and place the salmon on the pan.
  2. Place the brown sugar, lemon zest, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper into the bowl of a food processor and process until well combined. Evenly spread the mixture onto the salmon and allow to sit for 45 minutes at room temperature. The sugar will liquefy and glaze over the salmon. 
  3. After about 30 minutes of sitting, rinse your quinoa. (I haven’t yet found it’s not necessary, even if it says pre-rinsed. If it smells a little bitter or chemical-ish, soak it for a couple of minutes in water and strain. This will get rid of the bitter outer coating. Otherwise, it tastes pretty awful.)
  4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 tsp salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute. Add the quinoa and saute a minute or two.
  5. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the quinoa is tender and the liquid absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  6. While your quinoa is cooking, turn the oven on to the high broiler setting, allowing to preheat for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, place the salmon into the oven and broil for 6 to 8 minutes or until the thickest part of the fish reaches an internal temperature of 131 degrees F. Some of the glaze will run off and a bit on the foil may scorch and send up smoke from your oven–don’t worry! The salmon should be fine. Remove the salmon from the oven and allow to rest, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes. While you’re waiting, you can chuck a bag of veggies to steam in the microwave.  
  7. Fluff finished quinoa with a fork and serve everything nice and warm together! 

Serves 4-6. Nutrition (3 oz fish and 1/2 c cooked quinoa): 356 cal, 17 f, 30 c, 2.6 fi, 10 s, 21.7 p

*For a more Indian-spiced version of this quinoa, add 1 tsp grated ginger and a pinch of cinnamon and cardamom with the onion and garlic. So tasty!



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