How does salmon with lemon cream sauce, served with a side of farro and roasted Brussels sprouts sound? This delicious dinner for two is truly a healthy meal that you will savor. The citrus-infused, creamy sauce goes great with fish, whole grains, and a variety of veggies. You’ll want to make it again and again, using it in different dishes.
I invented this salmon with lemon cream sauce dish one evening when my son was staying at a friend’s house. It was just my husband and me for dinner, and I wanted to make something special, but not too complicated. With only two of us, I wanted to cut the portions down, so I did not end up with an abundance of leftovers.
Preparing this meal had me thinking about how we’ll be empty nesters before too long. Cooking these meals for two will become the new norm. It will be a transition in our lives, one mixed with happiness and a bit of sadness as well.
A lot of recipes serve 4-6 or more. It got me wondering whether anyone had created an empty nester’s cookbook, full of meal ideas for one or two.
I haven’t seen a similarly themed cookbook with a dietitian’s spin, though it’s not difficult to find cookbooks with healthful recipes for one or two. I’d love to find a cookbook that focuses specifically on health through good nutrition for empty nesters. (Maybe I should create one in the future?)
Two strategies to cut the calories on this dish, which one is better?
If you have a weight loss goal, there is an easy way to make this dish low-carb or low(er)-fat. Either of these options trims about 150 calories off of a serving of this dish.
- Lower-fat option: Skip the lemon cream sauce (takes the meal from 689 to 525 calories)
- Low-carb option: Skip the farro (takes the meal from 689 to 539 calories)
People love to debate about whether low-fat or low-carb options are better for weight loss. The truth is, it all comes down to what is sustainable for the individual. If a person cannot stick to a certain way of eating, that approach is not better for them.
I would generally choose the low-fat option while losing weight. That means I would have skipped the cream sauce in this dish.
I remember reading a book where the author wrote about how it is better to eat foods plain if you are looking to lose weight. Sauces and other condiments make foods hyper-palatable and easier to overeat. I believe the book that discussed this was “The Hungry Brain,” but don’t hold me to that.
The lower-fat option here is also considered the “heart-healthy” option by mainstream health organizations. Skipping the cream sauce brings the saturated fat in this dish down while keeping the farro retains more fiber. I tend to find fiber-rich foods more satiating than added fats, so the low-fat option was the right one for me.
Salmon is a fatty fish, so cutting the cream sauce makes this dish lower-fat but not no fat. As I’ve talked about previously on this site, some fat is essential in the diet. The goal should never be zero fat, no matter your preferred way of eating.
Some may prefer the low-carb option instead
If you are following a low-carb diet because you find it more satiating, skipping the farro may be a better option for you. Low-carb diets are also an evidence-based medical nutrition therapy for type 2 diabetes that can help patients control their glycemia.
Those on low-carb diets who want to reduce their blood cholesterol levels may want to consider skipping both the cream sauce and the farro. Alternatively, a person could have smaller portions of both the cream sauce and the farro than I have suggested here.
On the other hand, I see a trend in the low-carb community towards intermittent fasting. On this site, the suggested portions are for persons with average energy needs who eat three meals per day. (As well as a small snack or two, if desired.)
If you have a different meal frequency, you will likely need to modify the suggested portion sizes here. Those who eat only once or twice per day will need to consume a greater number of calories with each meal.
There are many different ways to compose a healthy diet that can help a person reach their health goals. Remember when reading general nutrition advice that there is no one right way to achieve wellness. Becoming familiar with the different options can help you determine the strategies that may work well for you.
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The calorie information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let’s get cooking!
Salmon with Lemon Cream Sauce Recipe
- 12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
- 1 T olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ c dry farro (whole not pearled, if possible)
- ¾ lb. frozen salmon, with skin, thawed (two fillets)
- ¼ c heavy cream
- ¼ c sour cream
- ⅙ t lemon zest
- ½ T lemon juice
- ½ T fresh dill, plus more for garnish (if desired)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Arrange the Brussels sprouts in a single layer in a rimmed baking pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- When the oven is heated, place the Brussels sprouts in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
- Cook the farro with water on the stovetop according to the package directions. This will take at least 30 minutes.
- To make the lemon cream sauce, whisk the heavy cream, sour cream, lemon juice, and lemon zest over medium heat until heated with a smooth consistency. Whisk in the fresh dill and set the sauce aside, keeping warm. You can also add a little salt and/or pepper to the sauce, if desired.
- After the Brussels sprouts have roasted for 30 minutes, give them a stir and push them to one side of your baking pan. Place the salmon fillets on the other side of the pan, skin side down.
- Bake the tray of Brussels sprouts and salmon for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the salmon is cooked.
- Plate the farro and Brussels sprouts. Lay the salmon on top of the farro and drizzle the lemon cream sauce on top. (Or just pour the sauce on there generously, as I did. It's less photogenic, but more delicious!)
- Garnish with fresh dill, if desired. Bon appetit!
This is a level 2 recipe (transition or weight maintenance). If you want to lighten up this meal, I’ve offered tips to make it low-carb or lower-fat earlier in this post. Each strategy knocks off about the same number of calories. It’s up to you to find the approach that leaves you feeling more satisfied with your meals. Farro is a variety of wheat that has a chewy texture, somewhat like barley. When shopping for farro, avoid those labeled “pearled” if you want a whole grain. Pearled farro easiest to find in the United States, but it is not a whole grain because the bran was removed.
Do you prefer the lower carb or lower fat approach for creating a calorie deficit for weight loss? Alternatively, do you prefer getting a balance of all of the macronutrients without restricting any one in particular? I’d love to hear what’s working for you, and please drop me a line if you try this salmon with lemon cream sauce recipe!