Dinner on a Sheet Pan-
If your life is as busy as mine can be, I am sure you need a rotation of easy dinners that you can whip up in no time. The kind that prevent you from calling the list of takeout restaurants we all have saved to our cell phone contacts. That’s exactly what this Sheet Pan Salmon and Asparagus with Orzo is for! This is a simple and tasty dinner great for most any night of the week, even the not so busy ones.
Not every meal has to take hours in the kitchen in order to hit the spot. Sometimes, the easy ones are the most satisfying. This has very few ingredients and it’s very versatile so there is no need to feel limited to the orzo or the asparagus. It’s easy to make it your own and customize according to your tastes.
Healthy and Budget Friendly
Salmon is a favorite in our house. My youngest loves it, and eats a huge piece every time I cook it. I love roasting salmon because it takes barely over ten minutes in the oven. When something is that fast, there is no need to call for takeout. This is a healthy meal too! When it comes to salmon, I think many people shy away from buying it because they think it’s too expensive. When you think about it, it’s actually a lot cheaper than going out to eat for a family of four.
You definitely want to buy your salmon fresh rather than frozen. If you are buying it pre packaged check the sell by date. I always make salmon no later than the day after I buy it to ensure it’s still fresh. I do my best to avoid farmed salmon and instead buy wild. It’s so much better!
Some stores are better about deboning salmon fillets than others are. Before you start cooking, gently run your hand over the top of the fillet. If there are still bones you will feel them. You should be able to pull them out with your fingers, but you may need a pair of clean tweezers if they are being stubborn. This will take a few extra minutes but it’s worth the effort. You could even do this when you get it home from the store to save time later when you’re ready to cook it. Just be sure to rewrap it in plastic wrap and re-refrigerate after checking for bones.
If you can’t find/ don’t like asparagus, broccoli florets or fresh green beans would make a great substitute.
You are not limited to just the orzo with this recipe. Bow ties or penne would work well too, but you will need to either use a little less pasta or more butter and cream to make sure there is enough sauce. You could even skip the orzo altogether and make a salad instead. There are a lot of options here!
This recipe does utilize some multitasking, and if that’s not your thing you can break the cooking up a bit. If that works better for you, I recommend making the orzo and the cream sauce all the way through first, and letting it sit covered on low while the salmon and asparagus roast. If you make the orzo first it’s important to use an extra tablespoon of butter and an extra ¼ cup of cream to make extra sauce, as the orzo will absorb most of it while you wait for the salmon.
Believe it or not, the asparagus actually takes longer to cook than the salmon does! That’s why the salmon is added to the sheet pan about five to seven minutes into cooking. This way, they both finish cooking at the same time. Putting the salmon on the aluminum foil not only allows for an easy way to add the salmon to the pan, but it makes for easier cleanup.
If you don’t have a rimmed baking sheet big enough for both the asparagus and the salmon, you can use one sheet for the salmon and the other for the asparagus. You will still put the asparagus in first and add the salmon after a few minutes. If you have to cook it this way, start the asparagus on the lower rack of the oven, and when it’s time to add the salmon, put the sheet pan of asparagus on the upper rack and put the salmon on the bottom.
This meal is great all by itself, but you can serve it with a salad like my Arugula Salad with Parmesan, Pear, and Pecans. If you want dessert, my Chai Spiced White Chocolate Brownies would be a nice after dinner treat! This recipe could be doubled to serve more people, but you would need two sheet pans. Just be sure to rotate them for even cooking.
I love this with some lemon squeezed over the top of everything on each plate right before serving. It really brightens up the dish. If you made this recipe, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Happy cooking!
For The Salmon
- 1 1/4 lb. Salmon filet
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 2 tsp Fresh Thyme
For the Apraragus
- 1 lb. Asparagus spears
- 3/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 Tbsp Avocado Oil
For the Orzo
- 6oz. (about 1 cup) Uncooked Orzo
- 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 Large Garlic Clove, chopped
- 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/2 cup Chopped Fresh Spinach
- Turn oven on to 450 degrees and fill a large stock pot with water to boil for the orzo.
- Cut tough ends from asparagus, remove thyme leaves from stems, and chop fresh spinach and garlic.
- Place the 4 tbsp unsalted butter in a small saucepan on medium low heat to melt.
- Fold a long piece of aluminum foil in half horizontally and place the salmon filet on it. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt, /4 tsp pepper, and 2 tsp fresh thyme.
- Cut the salmon into four pieces (see tips above in post or notes below regarding bones) and leave about a half inch gap between salmon portions. Set salmon aside.
- Place the asparagus on a large rimmed baking sheet, placing it on one half so that the salmon will sit on the other half of the pan. It is best to put the asparagus on the sheet pan horizontally, so that the salmon will rest all the way across the other half of the baking sheet. If your baking sheet is not big enough for this, use one for the salmon and one for the asparagus.
- Add the orzo to the boiling water and place asparagus in the oven. Bake asparagus for 5 to 7 minutes.
- While orzo cooks and the asparagus is roasting, turn the heat up slightly on the small saucepan and add 1 cup of heavy cream along with 1 tsp salt, clove of chopped garlic, and 1/2 tsp pepper and whisk. Allow the cream and butter to come to a gentle simmer.
- While the cream and butter simmer, drain the orzo and set aside. Remove the asparagus from the oven and use a spatula to turn the asparagus. Add the salmon (keeping it on the foil) to the sheet pan and return to the oven. Bake for ten minutes. If you are using two sheet pans, leave the asparagus in the oven and place the salmon on the other sheet pan and put it in the oven.
- While the asparagus and salmon roast, add the 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup of chopped fresh spinach to the small saucepan and stir until cheese is incorporated.
- Add the drained orzo and stir until well combined.
- Check the salmon after ten minutes (it could need 2 to 3 more minutes). If salmon is done, remove it and the asparagus from the oven and serve.
Be sure to check salmon for bones prior to cooking. Use your fingers or clean tweezers to remove if there are any.
If you don't want to cook multiple elements at the same time, you can make the orzo ahead and let it site in the saucepan on low heat while you prepare the salmon and asparagus, just be sure to add an extra tbsp of butter and 1/4 cup of cream to the sauce, as the orzo will absorb most of it if it sits too long.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 787Total Fat: 58gSaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 198mgSodium: 1659mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 42g
All information presented and written within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist or registered dietitian and any nutritional information should only be used as a general guideline. Statements within this site have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is provided for recipes contained on this site. This information comes from online calculators. Although The Copper Table attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.