Celebration Salmon Salad

Celebration Salmon Salad

Overhead photo of Celebration Salmon Salad - magnificent show off main dish salad for lunches, Christmas and other holiday feasting occasions!

Celebration Salmon Salad is a grandmain course salad thats worthy of Christmas, brunch with friends and other celebratory occasions!

With chunky flakes of hot smoked salmon and an addictive Yogurt Ranch Dressing, theres a handful of components to this recipe but its easy and itsall the little details that makes this so special!Bonus: can be entirely prepped ahead, stays perky for over an hour even once dressed!

Overhead photo of Celebration Salmon Salad - magnificent show off main dish salad for lunches, Christmas and other holiday feasting occasions!

Celebration Salmon Salad it started as a joke

Every year, we (the RecipeTin Family) get asked* to do the catering* for my mothers annual Christmas Lunch with 30 social club friends. The menu is requested 5 months in advance, and we usually stick with trusted favourites for the mains. Ham, roast chicken, turkey, side of salmon that sort of thing.

This year, I decided to change it up a bit and try something new so I switched the usualParmesan Crusted Salmon with what I called Celebration Salmon Salad, then hit Send.

I was mocked by the family for making up a festive sounding name without any idea of what it was actually going to be and putting putting myself in a position of having to invent something that stacks up to the name!!

But Im pleased to report that this was a huge hit at the party and certainly the most requested recipe.

Close up of salad servers picking up Celebration Salmon Salad (salad main dish with salmon)

The Components ofCelebration Salmon Salad

Heres what goes into each component of the Celebration Salmon Salad (I did warn you theres a few.but thats what makes it so special!!)

1. Hot Smoked Salmon

Hot Smoked Salmon

Store bought, all the way! Open and flake. Makes your life easier, plus smoking (well!) is not an everyday thing.The smokey flavour brings a special something to salmon! Use any flavour you want they come plain, or flavours like cracked pepper, sweet chilli (pictured it was on sale).

2. Yogurt Ranch Dressing

The yogurt brings a welcome tang to this creamy dressing thats loaded with traditional ranch flavours. I LOVE this dressing!Just mix and set aside 20 minutes+ to let the flavours develop.

Yoghurt Ranch Dressing www.recipetineats.com

Pickled red onion ingredients

3. Pickled red onion

Just mix and leave (no boiling) for 1 hour to soften the onion, remove the harshness and add pickled tang. Its just lightly scattered through the salad to add a hint of tart as well as adding gorgeous pops of colour!

How to make quick pickled onion

4. The Green Stuff

Ingredients in Celebration Salmon Salad

  • Marinated Kale Itll sound fancy when you tell your friends, but really, its just raw kale rubbed with olive oil and salt so it softens and makes it tasty (so even kale haters wont complain).Kale adds extra colour as well as adding texture and volume to the leafy greens . You really cant taste it separately. It also holds more dressing than the cos/romaine, sort of like a sponge, so you get a burst of dressing when you bite into the kale!

How to make marinated kale

  • Something juicy and fruity Peaches, nectarines, blood orange, normal oranges or grapefruit. Anything thats soft and juicy adds to the eating experience here, Ive tried all in the San Fran Chicken Salad (on which this recipe is based) and they are all terrific.I used grapefruit;

How to segment grapefruit

  • Leafy Greens You could really use any leafy greens here, but cos/romaine lettuce is my favourite;
  • Shaved Fennel Its a secret ingredient in this salad! You can just taste it because you dont use much and once shaved, the distinct aniseed flavour of fennel is really tempered. People knewsomething was mixed in with the lettuce, they just couldnt pick it!

Shaving fennel

  • Snow pea sprouts A little sprinkle across the top looks a bit fancy and adds interest to this salad!
  • Parmesan the final secret ingredient! Tossed through and sprinkled on top. Adds seriousumami(savouriness) into the salad.

Assembling theCelebration Salmon Salad

Heres how to assemble this salad its a little different to the usual, for both presentation and practical purposes (otherwise the salmon and fruit falls to the bottom):

How to make Celebration Salmon Salad

  1. Drizzle leafy greens with some dressing and parmesan;
  2. Toss well to coat the yogurt is thicker than normal dressing, so it needs more tossing that usual salads;
  3. Pile half onto a large platter;
  4. Top with salmon, more onion, and fruit slices;
  5. Pile on remaining leafy greens then repeat; and
  6. Finish with a scattering of snow pea sprouts and parmesan.

When I made this for my mothers Christmas party, I prepared everything in advance (including chopping the lettuce) with the exception of the fruit which I cut fresh to keep it as juicy as possible. Then on the day of, I just assembled it.

Close up of Celebration Salmon Salad (salad main dish with salmon)

This Celebration Salmon Salad is intended to be a main dish. Piled on a big platter, I think it makes a striking centrepiece on a buffet table, or a smaller scale for sharing with friends.

If serving this as a meal and youve got people present who get insecure without some form of carb present (fellow Carb Monsters, unite!), try one of these on the side:

Suggested sides for a meal

So in conclusion this Celebration Salmon Salad may have started out as a bit of a cheeky joke. But the end result was a seriously tasty, very pretty looking dish made for sharing with family and friends.

Make it, then the name will get seared intoyour brain too. Celebration Salmon Salad this, Celebration Salmon Salad that. People cant stop talking about it!! Nagi x

Watch how to make it

Celebration Salmon Salad with Yoghurt Ranch Dressing

Recipe VIDEO above. A show off salad for gatherings! Hot smoked salmon adds a touch of special to this salad that's loaded with fabulous flavours and textures. You'll love the dressing! Recipe written for 5 servings, double batch pictured in post, shown as a main dish for a buffet.

  • 500g / 1 lb hot smoked salmon (, store bought, any flavour (Note 1))

Quick Pickled Onion:

  • 1 small red onion (, halved then finely sliced)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) apple cider vinegar ((enough to just cover onion), sub white wine vinegar)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp white sugar

Yoghurt Ranch Dressing:

  • 2 cups Greek yoghurt (, full fat recommended)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove (, minced)
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp EACH onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper ((Note 1))
  • 1 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

Marinated Kale:

  • 4 cups (packed) kale (, torn into bite size pieces (Note 2))
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of salt


  • 2 pieces fruit nectarines, peaches, grapefruit or blood oranges ((get whatever's ripe and juicy, or sub normal oranges))
  • 10 cups cos lettuce / romaine (torn or cut into bite size pieces (Note 3))
  • 1 small fennel (, shaved (0.5 mm / 1/5" thickness) or finely sliced)
  • 1 handful snow pea sprouts ((can omit))
  • 3/4 cup (75g) parmesan (, shredded (Note 4))
  1. Flake salmon: Use two forks to flake salmon into large chunks.

  2. Dressing: Mix the Yoghurt Ranch Dressing ingredients in a bowl. Adjust olive oil + lemon juice to taste. Leave 20 minutes.

  3. Pickle Onions: Place ingredients in a bowl, toss to coat. Set aside for 1 hour+ or until onion is softened (if in a rush, make sure the onion is finely sliced = faster pickle). Drain.

  4. Marinated Kale: Place kale in a large bowl, drizzle with oil then sprinkle with salt. Use your fingers to massage the oil onto the leaves you want to ensure every part of the kale is coated in oil. Set aside for 30 minutes or until kale is softened.

Slice fruit:

  1. Nectarines/peaches option- halve then finely slice.

  2. Grapefruit/blood orange option segment per video. Squeeze all remaining juice out of the membrane after segmenting, mix into dressing.


  1. Place lettuce, kale, fennel, 1/2 cup onion in bowl. Drizzle with about 1 cup dressing and 1/3 cup parmesan. Toss well to coat. Taste, add more parmesan or salt if you want, or more dressing.

  2. Pile half dressed lettuce onto serving platter. Flake over half the salmon and half the fruit. Scatter with more red onion.

  3. Top with remaining lettuce, salmon, fruit and onion (might not use all onion).

  4. Drizzle with some dressing (might not use all, serve remainder on side). Scatter over snow pea sprouts, sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Place on table and let everyone help themselves!

1. Hot Smoked Salmon not to be confused with smoked salmon slices, hot smoked salmon looks like cooked salmon fillets. Which it is cooked in a smoker to infuse with terrific smoked flavour, and seasoned all the way through. Special treat for special occasion!

2. KALE: Tear the leaves off the thick stalk running down the middle of each leaf, then tear into bite size pieces. Measure the kale by packing the torn pieces into measuring cups. This is a terrific easy way to prepare raw kale for salads.

3. Cos / romaine lettuce use 4 baby ones if you can (sweeter leaves and better shape), or 2 large ones.

4. Parmesan I like using the store bought finely shredded (looks like very thin batons). Or freshly grated.

5. Preparing ahead: Salmon, marinated kale, dressing and pickled onions can all be done the day before (dressing can be done 48 hours before). Chopped lettuce can also be done the day before wash, dry, chop, place in containers or sealed bags in crisper drawer of fridge.

Fruit slicing best done close to serving. Then assemble on the day.

Dressed salad lasts longerthan most salads because the yogurt dressing doesnt wilt the leafy greens like normal salad dressings. Still good even 1 hour after dressing. After 3 hours, leaves not quite as perky but still not soggy people happily take leftovers for the next day!

6. Nutrition is for meal size portions, assuming this serves 5. If its part of a banquet, it will go much further.

Life of Dozer

Dozer banished behind the shoot curtain while filming this Celebration Salmon Salad! He was not in a celebratory mood

Dozer Celebration Salmon Salad

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