green olive salsa verde on whole roasted salmon

Italian salsa verde, that potent mix of garlic, herbs, capers, and anchovies of which everyone has their own version, has become something of a “mother sauce” in this house. Mine is always heavy on the parsley, sometimes with baby spinach to add subtle volume, sometimes with arugula for a bitter bite, sometimes with basil for the faint familiarity of pesto.

And now that I’ve tried it with the buttery, textural addition of California olives to accompany roasted salmon, I may never go back to that all-leafy green basic version.

April is Earth Month, and for California Wines specifically, it is “Down to Earth Month,” celebrating California’s commitment to sustainability in winemaking, which means caring for the land, the environment, the people that work in the vineyard and winery, and the community as a whole. California has more acres of Certified Sustainable vineyards than any other region in the world, and 80% of the wines it produces are Certified Sustainable, making the state not only a leading producer overall, but a leader worldwide in sustainability.

sunny with chance of flowers california sauvignon blanc and wente vineyards pinot noir

California Wines sent me two wines to pair with the Roasted Salmon with Green Olive Salsa Verde, both of which are CSWA-certified: the wine is made in a Certified Sustainable California winery, using at least 85% grapes from certified vineyards, and is made from 100% California fruit. Sunny with a Chance of Flowers‘ Sauvignon Blanc is a zero sugar, low alcohol white wine from the Central Coast of California. Like the bright herbaceous green and briny salsa verde, the wine feels like seaside in the spring sunshine. But sticking only to white wine with fish is sooo 1985. A light-bodied red like the Riva Ranch Pinot Noir from Wente Vineyards brings out the richness of wild salmon, especially served with baby potatoes and peas.

Of course, pinot noir also pairs perfectly with prep and cooking, which is what I did.

Recipe for Roasted Salmon with Green Olive Salsa below; cooking Notes and shopping Resources follow.

salmon with green olive salsa verde


inspired by the Wine Country Table cookbook and California Wines
suggested wine pairing: California Sauvignon Blanc or California Pinot Noir

This recipe as presented makes a little more salsa verde than you might need for the salmon. It is a perfect accompaniment to any and all other seared or grilled fish, roast chicken, or basically anything, so it may be worth it to make more to begin with.

serves 4, with additional salsa verde leftover


½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup California ripe green olives, pitted and chopped
1 garlic clove finely minced
3 oil-packed anchovy fillets, minced to a paste
1 tablespoon capers, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, half for juice, half for garnish
½ cup California extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
4 6-ounce pieces of wild king salmon
California extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
kosher salt


Make Green Olive Salsa Verde: Place all of the ingredients for the salsa verde in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Taste and season with additional lemon juice and/or salt if necessary. You may not need any extra salt at all since olives, anchovies, and capers are all fairly salty. Set Green Olive Salsa Verde aside. You can make this up to a day in advance.

Cook salmon: Heat oven to 375° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (parchment paper is optional but it makes cleanup easier).

Place the salmon on the lined baking sheet, skin side down. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon olive oil and rub over salmon to coat evenly. Season with kosher salt. Place on a rack in the middle of the oven and roast until fish is just barely cooked through. Depending on the thickness of the salmon, it may take anywhere from 12 to 15 minutes. If you prefer medium-rare salmon, start checking the salmon at 10 minutes.

Transfer the salmon to a serving platter or individual serving plates and top each piece with Green Olive Salsa Verde. Serve immediately, with any extra Green Olive Salsa Verde alongside.

Leftover salmon can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one day. Any Green Olive Salsa Verde that was unused can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

green olive salsa verde ingredients in mixing bowl


  1. Advance Cooking. You can make the Green Olive Salsa Verde a day in advance, which might be better because the garlic will mellow out a little. However, the recipe comes together so quickly, there’s no need to do anything too far in advance (except maybe wash and de-stem the parsley)
  2. Olives: Because I am all about California-grown produce, which is local for me, I use California green olives that are already pitted to make the Green Olive Salsa Verde. You can use California green or black olives because the truth about green and black olives is that they are the same olives! For the purpose of matching green aesthetics, I like green olives in this recipe. One cup of whole olives renders about 3/4 cup of chopped olives. This brand is officially California grown!
  3. Anchovies: If anchovies were found off the coast of California, you know I’d be on them, hell I’d probably be fishing them myself. But since I have yet to find California anchovies, I use this jar of anchovies for everything. If you are sensitive to anchovies, you can leave the anchovies out of the recipe, but you will miss out on a lot of umami in the final result. Your choice. 
  4. Capers: Use the small, non-pareil capers in liquid brine. If you use capers in dry salt, soak the capers in plain water for about 15 minutes. This store brand is organic.
  5. Olive Oil. I used California-based Rosenthal Ranch organic extra virgin olive oil for all of the components of this recipe. This brand is an olive oil that’s more widely available, though it is not organic.
  6. Kosher Salt. I use this brand Kosher salt in the dark red box
  7. Salmon: Wild king salmon is my favorite, and is generally in season May-September. At the time of this post, sustainably-farmed salmon was the best option available to me. In Los Angeles, I get my seafood from Santa Monica Seafood. If wild king salmon is not available, substitute almost any other firm fish. The Wine Country Table cookbook calls for lingcod, which is a medium-firm white flesh fish in the same family as rockfish and black cod, aka sablefish or butterfish. Lingcod is found off the coast of California.
  8. On salmon serving sizes: I generally allot 8 oz (half a pound) of salmon for each serving, which amounts to two pounds total for this recipe. Eight ounces is actually a pretty large serving, and most people will not eat that much because of all the other delicious little things on the table. However, leftover cooked salmon will keep for about three days in the refrigerator, or frozen for a few weeks, and is great for adding to your lunch and dinner grain bowls.
  9. All other fresh herbs and produce from either the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market on Wednesday, or Whole Foods Market when I can’t find what I need at the farmers’ market.


green olive salsa verde spoon onto roast salmon

This recipe and post are produced in partnership with California Wines to celebrate California’s commitment to sustainable winemaking during Down to Earth Month (#D2EMonth) in April.

wine country table cookbook janet fletcher
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