Recipe courtesy of Justin Chapple

Date-Night Salmon Salad

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 25 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield:  2 servings
My affection for tequila-lime salmon began with a version I ate while sitting on a pleather couch. The couch belonged to Jason, a police officer I’d met two weeks before at the Stonewall Inn, and the salmon he cooked that night has since become the most memorable meal of my life. You see, Jason—now my husband of more than ten years—isn’t the “cook” in our family, but he stole my heart with a piece of roasted salmon thoughtfully placed on a pile of rice pilaf. Even more thoughtful was the accompanying salad, which he meticulously arranged in a ring around the rim of the plate, surrounding the fish and pilaf like a halo. The memory of it makes me both laugh and cry. That meal filled me with inner peace and a sense of love that I don’t think I’d felt until that moment. It offered a taste of what some might call a “normal” life—a life in which you care for someone so much that you put heartfelt effort into plating a salmon fillet. As a gay man, it was hard to visualize what my future would be, knowing I might never be able to marry. Thankfully that has since changed, but this meal reminds me it wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t have that right—and I don’t ever want to take it for granted. My affection for this recipe began in 2003, and so did my love for the man who is now my husband



  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the chopped onion and the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and orzo and cook, stirring, until the rice is translucent on the edges, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, turmeric, and a generous pinch of salt. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Stir once, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steam, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork, then spread on a baking sheet to cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil. 
  3. Place the salmon skin side down on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with the tequila and sprinkle with the lime zest, then season generously with salt and pepper. Bake the salmon for about 20 minutes, until just cooked through. Let cool completely, then remove the skin and flake the salmon into 2-inch pieces; discard the skin. 
  4. In a large bowl, toss the cooled rice pilaf with the arugula, cilantro, lime juice, and sliced onion. Season the salad with salt and pepper. Gently fold in the salmon, then serve immediately.