This delightful mustard crusted salmon with oats and chives is a fresh spring meal that is so easy to prepare. Oats create a crunchy and gluten-free topping alternative to breadcrumbs.
After seven years in Vermont, this was the spring that finally caused me to break down and buy a pair of Muck Boots. Shortly after, during a brief reprieve from the rain, I splattered through my swamp of a yard to see if I’d be able to start planting the garden or have to be content with a mud pit. To my surprise, there was already something growing – chives.
So what if the new raised beds aren’t built, trellis fencing is lying about, and the forecast is calling for nothing but more wet weather? Despite all of this, the chives have returned, and there is hope. These past six months might as well have been six years of winter.
It’s funny what you can learn to appreciate. By midsummer, I’ll probably only think of the chives on occasion and, even then, use them mostly as an afterthought to garnish something like roasted potatoes. Now, though, they must be more than a garnish.
how to grow chives
If you don’t have chives in your yard, find someone who does and dig up a few for yourself. Though you'll probably want to ask permission first. Chives slowly spread and come back every year. My batch came from my grandmother’s backyard in Connecticut several years ago. The purple chive flowers that eventually bloom are also edible and may be used in salads or as a garnish. Chives are easy to harvest, as you just cut them as you need them and they keep growing back.
cooking with chives
I use chives interchangeably with scallions. But mostly, I use them in salads and top anything where I want a fresh bite of onion flavor.
I thought of making a chive sauce with butter and lemon zest to pour over the salmon I already had waiting in the fridge. But that didn't sound too interesting. A chive and breadcrumb crusted salmon, baked in the oven, sounded better. Except, I was out of breadcrumbs and wasn’t going to entertain the thought of going back out to the store.
Instead, I improvised and decided to make a crunchy crust using oats. It’s not that I was too lazy to make fresh breadcrumbs. I didn’t have bread, either. Oats, I always have. And hey, they’re healthier and are gluten-free, if that’s something you have to worry about.
oat and mustard crusted salmon topping
Oats and fish aren’t a common pairing, but it’s not totally out of the question. With a few pulses in the food processor, rolled oats become crumbly and well suited to stick together as a crust. They don’t have much flavor on their own and can easily take on whatever they’re paired up with. Just like with oatmeal, it’s the fruit, nuts, sweetener, and spices that make it interesting. Same concept with making an oat topping for a fillet of fish. No, not that Filet-O-Fish.
I chopped up a small bunch of the chives, mixed them in with the oats, along with the lemon zest, Dijon mustard, a little oil, and an egg. After seasoning the salmon and coating it with more mustard, I divided the mixture among my salmon filets then roasted them in the oven. I finished with a few minutes under the broiler to brown the topping, and that was it.
Roasting salmon is my favorite way to cook fish. There’s no need to flip, and it comes out perfectly every time. There are plenty of salmon recipes out there, but I always go for ones that involve either roasting or grilling.
When shopping for salmon, look for fresh filets, not frozen. Even better, look for wild-caught as opposed to farm-raised. It’s the healthier and more sustainable option.
What’s next on the menu for chives? I’m thinking of loading them into an egg salad sandwich. But first, I’ll need some bread.
Looking for other seafood ideas? Check out my recipe for Seafood Newburg Soup.