One-Pan Salmon with Spinach Parmesan Orzo

Checking in on all of the parents out there! The month of May always seems to bring a special kind of crazy busy-ness to the end of the school year. It’s full of wonderful events and experiences, but you always wonder if you’re going to make it through to the other side.

Salmon Salad Recipe
Photo by Chef Natalie Marble.

I’m here to cheer you on and give you a dinner idea that is delicious, one that you can feel good about, AND it’s all done in one pan!  It features seared salmon with a delicious golden caramelized crust served over a bed or orzo pasta flavored with fresh spinach, lemon, pecorino cheese and fresh herbs.  This is one I go back to over and over – all year long.

Good luck parents – summer is just around the corner!

One-pan salmon with spinach parmesan orzo

Serves 4


4 salmon filets

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp black pepper

2 tbsp avocado oil

3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided

3 shallots, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ tsp red chili flakes

1 c. orzo pasta

3 c. chicken stock (vegetable stock or water)

5 oz. baby spinach

Zest of 1 whole lemon

Juice from ½ lemon

½ c. pecorino cheese (or parmesan)

2 tbsp chives, finely chopped

2 tbsp dill, roughly chopped


  1. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat and add the avocado oil.
  2. Season both sides of the salmon with the kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Just as the oil begins to smoke, add the salmon filets top side down, and let them cook, undisturbed, for 3 to 4 minutes. When they are ready, they will release from the pan, and you can turn them over to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.  Then, remove them from the pan onto a plate.  Tent them with foil to keep warm, but not lose their crispy crust.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the shallots, garlic and chili flakes and cook for a few minutes. You can turn the heat back up to medium-low – just high enough that you’re cooking the shallots and garlic, but not browning them.
  5. Add the orzo pasta and let it toast as you stir it around for a couple of minutes.
  6. Add the stock, a large pinch of salt and pepper and let it come to a boil.  Once it reaches a boil, reduce it to a simmer and stir occasionally until most of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is al dente – should be about 5 to 8 minutes. *There should be some liquid left in the pan to cook the spinach that you’re going to add in the next step.  
  7. Add the spinach and stir it around to wilt and mix in.  Then add the lemon juice and zest, pecorino, chives, and dill. Taste and adjust any seasoning with salt, as necessary.  
  8. Add the salmon filets back to the pan and serve.

Hello, I’m Natalie!  I’m a professionally-trained chef, culinary instructor and recipe developer living in Ann Arbor.  A career change, a trip through culinary school 20 years ago, and being a lifelong Julia Child enthusiast has led me to a career doing my very favorite thing:  making food and cooking approachable to home cooks of all ages!   

My passion for creating great food experiences and getting people excited about learning and having fun in the kitchen is always at the heart of what I do.  You can find me at  And on social media you can find me at @NatalieMarbleCooks.  Sign up for my bi-weekly email newsletter here, where I share family-friendly recipes, tips & tricks, new class information, and hopefully a little inspiration!