Warm and comforting with a hit of freshness from the relish, this is a dish to linger over at brunch. Spring salmon also goes by the names chinook, king or tyee, so keep your eye out when purchasing your fish. Freekeh is a popular whole grain that has been consumed for centuries in the Middle East and North Africa. Its name comes from the Arabic word farak, which means “to rub”—this refers to the production process in which durum wheat is harvested before it is fully ripe, then toasted and rubbed vigorously to release the green kernels.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes


  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil, divided
  • 4 to 6 oz salmon fillets, skin off
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, for seasoning
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, divided
  • 1¼ tsp crushed fennel seed, divided
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup uncooked cracked freekeh
  • 1½ cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • 1 small orange
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp crushed hot red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 oz crumbled feta cheese


Heat 1 tbsp grapeseed oil in a large skillet, cast iron if you have it, over medium-high heat.

Sprinkle salmon evenly with a generous seasoning of salt and black pepper. Once oil is very hot, add salmon to pan, and cook skinned side down until nicely browned (about 2 minutes). Remove salmon from pan and place, skinned side down, on a plate. Salmon will not be done cooking. Keep skillet over heat but reduce to medium.

Add remaining 1 tbsp grapeseed oil to skillet along with onions. Cook, stirring often, until starting to brown (about 4 to 5 minutes). Finely mince 4 cloves of garlic and add to skillet with onions along with 1 tsp fennel seed and ground cumin. Continue to cook, stirring often, until onions are nicely caramelized and garlic and spices are aromatic (about another 2 to 4 minutes). Stir freekeh into onion mixture before adding vegetable stock, scraping bottom of skillet to loosen any browned bits. Stir in raisins. Let mixture come to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely zest lemon but keep remaining lemon as you will use it for the relish. Once simmered, uncover skillet and stir lemon zest and 1 tbsp oregano into freekeh mixture. Nestle salmon, skinned side down. Cover skillet and cook on low until liquid is absorbed and freekeh is done and salmon is cooked through (about another 5 to 6 minutes).

While salmon finishes cooking, make the relish. Peel reserved lemon, removing all white pith. Cut between membranes to remove lemon sections, discarding the membranes. Chop each lemon section into 3 pieces. Finely zest half of the orange and set aside. Peel orange, removing all white pith. Cut between membranes to remove orange sections, discarding membranes. Chop each orange section into 3 pieces.

Finely slice remaining garlic clove and add to a small saucepan along with olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes and remaining ¼ tsp fennel seed. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring often, until garlic is just golden brown (about 3 minutes). Remove saucepan from heat and stir in parsley, orange zest and remaining 1 tbsp oregano. Add feta, chopped lemons and chopped oranges and stir gently to combine. Let mixture stand so cheese warms and softens but is not melted (about 2 minutes).

To serve, divide salmon and cooked freekeh among serving bowls. Top with some of the relish and serve remaining relish alongside.

Spring Salmon Freekeh Skillet with Warm feta Citrus Relish

This recipe was originally published in the May/June 2024 print issue of Western Living magazine.