Irene Vartanoff: Substitution Salmon Salad

Hey, hey everyone. Today you have two Irenes for the price of one! We have other things in common, which you’ll probably figure out shortly. (Honestly, do I ever make anything without a substitution?) Irene Vartanoff has brought a delish salmon salad recipe and an excerpt from Captive of the Cattle Baron. My contribution to this post is eating the yummy salmon while I enjoy the excerpt…


Salmon Salad Recipe by Irene Vartanoff Irene V:

I find recipes on the net by googling them, and then I copy down the ingredients and maybe a few direction. Sometimes I don’t copy very well. That’s how I ended up making a Substitution Salmon Salad that I adore.

I never, ever follow recipes exactly although I always mean to. After I found a salmon salad recipe online that didn’t have any ingredients I dislike or that dislike me, I went shopping for them. That’s where the substituting began. I wasn’t about to buy the dry mustard the recipe called for, not when no one in the house eats dry mustard. My husband always has some Gulden’s Spicy Brown Mustard around, so I figured I could use that. Substitution Number 1. The recipe called for chives. By the time I got to the grocery store, I thought I was supposed to buy dill. Oops. Substitution Number 2.

When it came to assembling the ingredients, I wasn’t starting from fresh salmon, but from frozen. Substitution Number 3. The directions say I should let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and yada yada. I put the sealed plastic packages in cold water and thawed them in ten minutes. Substitution Number 4. Then it was time to line the pan with aluminum foil. It was a nonstick pan anyway, and I simply brushed about a tablespoon of olive oil onto the surface so the salmon filets wouldn’t stick. Substitution Number 5.

The recipe as I’d copied it down wanted 1 1/4 tablespoons of honey. That couldn’t be right. Nobody ever does a quarter of a tablespoon, and anyway, I try not to add sugar of any kind directly to my cooking. So I put in a scant one-half to one teaspoon of honey. Substitution Number 6.

BTW, it’s so hard to find yogurt with fat in it that I tried this recipe with nonfat yogurt. I don’t recommend it. It needs the fat.

Despite all my substitutions, the resulting salmon salad was a party hit and has become a personal favorite of mine. Sometimes I add twice as much dill. Once, I tried more salmon, but that threw the balance off. Adding extra red grapes doesn’t seem to be a problem.

This is a very high protein, high fat salad, totaling approximately 1600 calories including the pound of salmon. It can satisfy four people with a few side bits of this or that like lettuce or cucumber because it’s so calorie dense. It has a refreshing and sweet final taste because of the grapes, but it’s solid, unlike many kinds of salads. You won’t feel hungry again for hours.


Irene’s Salmon Salad Recipe

1 pound salmon filets

1 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half (no seeds to battle)

1/4 cup full fat (4%) cottage cheese

1/4 cup mayonnaise (because you need more fat in your diet)

1/4 cup full fat plain Greek yogurt (more fat. A theme…)

2 tablespoons chopped dill (or more)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon (or less) honey

1 teaspoon (or less) mustard

A few squeezes of lemon

Brush a flat nonstick pan with olive oil (or spray with nonstick spray). Mix the remaining olive oil, honey, mustard, dill, and some squeezes of lemon. Brush the salmon filets with the mixture. Be generous. You’ll collect what remains in the pan later.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Bake 15-18 minutes. Do not overcook. Salmon should show some white foamlike stuff on the surface. Keep this. It’s good stuff.

While the filets bake, mix the cottage cheese, mayonnaise, yogurt, grapes, and the remaining oil mixture in a quart bowl, adding lemon juice to taste. Refrigerate.

Once the salmon is cooked, cool it in the refrigerator. (Do not mix hot salmon into the mayonnaise mixture; bad things could happen.) Collect the remaining oil mixture from the baking pan and cool it.

Break the salmon into chunks of your preferred size and mix everything together gently. Done!

Irene Vartanoff

Captive of the Cattle Baron by Irene VartanoffCaptive of the Cattle Baron

Abducted by rancher Baron Selkirk—okay, it was an accident, but now he won’t let her go—former TV child star turned horse whisperer Addie Jelleff wants to return to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to defend her actor pal in court. Baron and his vast, isolated ranch appeal to Addie as a respite from the media circus, but he’s awfully domineering and she can’t possibly give in to their growing attraction while she’s virtually his prisoner, can she? Baron wants Addie to open up about her mysterious past and her commitment to another man. Why won’t she give in to Baron, when every time they touch, they catch fire? It’s a battle of wills—with neither one backing down.


Miss Betty cornered Baron in the kitchen, where he was helping himself to peanut butter and jelly. She slapped his fingers.

“’Tain’t enough to hold you. I’ll make you a sandwich.”

She busied herself pulling out meat and fixings. “Did you really abduct that girl?”

He leaned back in the kitchen chair. He let out a long breath. “Not exactly. Maybe.”

“Which is it?” came the sharp retort.

He took a napkin from the stack of checkered cloths in the center of the table. Then he poured himself lemonade from the pitcher he’d pulled from the refrigerator.


“She’d stowed away in the back of the SUV. I didn’t know she was there. She woke up when I was only a half-hour from here.”

“Bein’ a decent man, you didn’t leave her there in the middle of nowhere,” Miss Betty said.

“It wasn’t as if she could wait on the next corner for a bus.”

Miss Betty snorted. “No buses anywhere near.” She presented him with a large sandwich on homemade whole-wheat bread. “Why didn’t you turn around and take her back to Jackson Hole?”

“She needs protection,” he replied.

“From what?”

“From herself, most likely. Maybe from some man.”

Miss Betty took a glass from a cabinet and sat down opposite him at the table. She poured herself lemonade. “You’re actin’ like she’s your relative and you have a responsibility to look after her.”

“Guess I am. It comes natural to me.”

“Don’t think so.” She snorted. “You took one look at her and thought ‘mine.’”


Where to Buy Captive of the Cattle Baron:


Captive of the Cattle Baron is FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Author Irene Vartanoff About Irene V

Award-winning author Irene Vartanoff started reading romances and comic books as a teenager. Emilie Loring romances and Superman comics led to the serious stuff, Gothic novels and Lois Lane comics—and romance comics. Writing comic books and working on staff at Marvel Comics and DC Comics absorbed her early career years, aspects of which are gently spoofed in her superhero adventure series, Temporary Superheroine. Editing for major publishers of romance Harlequin, Bantam, and Berkley inspired her next career shift to writing romance novels. Captive of the Cattle Baron is her first sweet contemporary western romance.


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One Response to Irene Vartanoff: Substitution Salmon Salad

  1. Liv

    You cook like I do…and that salad sounds yummy. Will definitely give this a try.