• deborahreinhardt

Shake Up Your Grilling Game with These Salmon Burgers Peppered with Bacon.

grilled salmon patty with arugula, cheese and mayonnaise on pretzel bun
Easy Grilled Salmon Burgers

We have a big grilling day coming up—Labor Day—and if you’re looking for something different to serve this year, Easy Grilled Salmon Burgers is a simple grilling recipe that puts a twist into a traditional end-of-summer menu.

Be honest—how many grilled beef burgers have you eaten this summer (show of hands)? I’ve had my share, and while delicious, I’m a bit weary of minced beef between a sesame bun. The summer grilling season, sandwiched between Memorial Day in May and Labor Day in September deserves to go out with a bang, so let’s try something that may be a little new.

But hold on, EEEWWWW it’s FISH! To those of you who are a little reluctant to taste anything that swims, let me say these salmon burgers have the same mouth feel as a hamburger, and when placed on our pretzel bun with a zesty mayo dressing and peppered bacon, your mind just might be blown. And a little tip I’ll share with you will remove any hint of the “fishy” taste you don’t like.

To make my Easy Salmon Burgers, which makes four servings, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 1¼ pounds boneless and skinless salmon fillet

  • 2 tablespoons panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 2½ tablespoons lemon juice

  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

  • ½ teaspoon cayenne

  • 3 cups arugula or salad green of your choice

  • 4 strips peppered bacon

  • 4 pretzel buns

  • Salt and pepper

Salmon 101

Let’s talk a minute about how to select a good piece of salmon. If you're already a pro at this, skip to the next section. The best tip: get to know your fish monger. Like a good butcher, they will know how to recommend the right fish for a recipe and help you select the freshest product. In my city, Starr’s has a great selection of fresh fish flown in from the East and West coasts and a knowledgeable staff will help you select the right cut for your needs. If you’re on your own, however, here’s how to buy salmon.

  • Look for good color in fillet. Wild salmon will be dark pink, farm-raised a lighter pink, but avoid anything with a blue or gray tint. Wild or farmed fish can be sustainably sourced; watch the packaging and if you have questions, the Marine Stewardship Council publishes guides to help navigate these waters.

  • Use your nose. Fresh fish will smell like the ocean, but shouldn’t have a strong, off-putting fish odor. For sensitive palates, you can neutralize salmon even more by soaking it in milk for 20 minutes. Just drain and pat it dry before preparing.

  • Firm texture. Salmon flesh should be firm.

  • When buying frozen fish, avoid anything with visible ice crystals or frost and discoloration. You always want to be “in the pink.”

Fillets come from the side of a salmon and there are five parts to a side: the belly, loin, top loin, second cut and tail. Again, a good fish monger can help you choose according to your budget and recipe, but since we’re chopping and mincing this salmon, the tail or maybe second cut would work well, the tail having more of a fat content.

Salmon burgers from your grocer’s fresh fish case certainly are available, as are frozen patties, but I’ve not found any so far that have the right “chew” for me. They either are mushy or too dense giving the burger a processed texture. This recipe, as Goldilocks might say, is just right for a salmon burger because it’s a combination of processed and chopped salmon.

Directions for Easy Grilled Salmon Burgers

Cut ¾ of the salmon into ¼-inch pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Cut the rest into chunks (any size is fine) and add to a food processor with the mustard, 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon cayenne. Pulse to make a paste and add this mixture to the bowl of diced salmon, add panko and gently mix until just combined.

Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and brush lightly with oil. Divide the salmon into four mounds. With damp hands, form into ¾ inch thick patties, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so they firm up.

While the salmon chills out, make the sauce for burgers. In a bowl, combine ½ cup mayonnaise, 1½ tablespoons of lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon cayenne and a pinch of salt. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Heat a large skillet to medium-high and cook bacon until well done. Remove bacon from pan and place on paper towels to absorb excess fat.

Wash and dry the arugula.

To grill the salmon burgers, first be sure the grate is clean. The best way to do this is preheat the grill to medium-high (about 350 degrees) with the grate in place. It’s easier to scrape the grill’s grate when pre-heated. Lightly oil the cleaned grates.

Place the chilled burgers on the grill and cook for 4 minutes per side. If the burgers stick when you attempt flipping, let them cook for an extra minute or two before turning. Remove from grill, placing them on a clean baking sheet and allow to rest while you prepare the buns.

If you prefer a toasted bun, do that before you spread each side with the mayonnaise dressing. Fold a strip of bacon in half and place on bottom bun. Add the salmon burger and arugula and top with the dressed bun.

And there you have it! A different twist to your Labor Day cookout. By the way, did you know barbecues were common civic celebrations in the late 19th century? So, when the American labor movement pushed for municipal holidays, a barbecue often was included in the festivities. For example, in 1890, the second year Kansas City, Missouri, celebrated a municipal Labor Day holiday, a parade was followed by a barbecue and fireworks. On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a law making the first Monday in September of each year a national holiday.

Whatever your Labor Day plans are this year, I hope you’ll enjoy good food with friends and family. Happy Labor Day, everyone!



Looking for other ideas for your Labor Day cookout? You won't have to fire up a grill for my Easy Barbecued Beef Sliders that are made in a slow cooker. You can be at the pool while the beef slowly cooks in time for dinner. My mom's Mock Filet Mignon recipe is great for the grill and offers a tried-and-true way to use ground beef.


About the Blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

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  • deborahreinhardt

Inspired by a classic Caesar salad, these green beans will conquer your hunger for a quick and delicious side.

green beans toss in Caesar salad dressing on plates
Hail Caesar Green Beans

If you’re tired of the same old green beans, have I got a recipe for you! Hail Caesar Green Beans are packed with bold flavors and are ready in almost no time, perfect for busy weeknights. Pair these with simple grilled chicken or a small steak and you’ve got dinner on the table in 30 minutes.

My daughter loves a classic Caesar salad, and if you find a restaurant that does it right, savor every bite. Like most food origination stories, the one for Caesar salad varies, but the most common version points to an Italian immigrant and restauranteur, Caesar Cardini, who invented the recipe in 1924 at his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico. Using what he had in the kitchen, he tossed lettuce stalks, raw egg, olive oil, croutons, Worcestershire sauce and Parmesan cheese together at a customer’s table. Soon, news of this delightful salad spread, and folks were coming to Tijuana just for Caesar’s restaurant. In 1948, he patented his recipe.

Over the years, cooks have tweaked the recipe for the dressing (let’s face it—the croutons and dressing make this dish), and I’m no different. The dressing for Hail Caesar Green Beans is a vinaigrette rather than the creamy salad dressing we know and love. But it works in this application (and would also be delicious in a lettuce salad). The key factors to this recipe are 1) quality olive oil; 2) fresh green beans; and 3) homemade croutons.

To make Hail Caesar Green Beans, which yields six servings, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 1 to 1½ pounds fresh green beans, trimmed

  • 3 ounces cubed bread

  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1½ plus ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste

  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon French-style mustard

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese

Directions for Hail Caesar Green Beans

I remember Mom and Grandma cleaning mounds of fresh green beans on our back porch. The cleaned and trimmed beans went into a large stock pot, and that’s where we’ll start.

Buy the bulk green beans or, if you can’t find those at your grocer’s (like me), get the pre-washed and trimmed beans in bag made to microwave. I don’t recommend frozen beans for this recipe because you won’t get the right texture. Add 1½ teaspoons of salt to 4 quarts of cold water. Bring to a boil and add green beans. Cook for 5 minutes; you want the beans to just start to bend but retain crunch.

Golden homemade croutons in skillet
There's no substitute for homemade croutons.

While the beans are cooking, start on the croutons. I’ve made extra-large (pictured above) and “normal” (about ½-inch) sized croutons and like both, so it’s your preference. You’ll toss the cubed bread in 2 teaspoons of olive oil and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Toast in a large skillet for 5 to 7 minutes until bread turns golden. Set aside.

Drain the green beans.

To make the dressing, to a small mixing bowl, add anchovy paste, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire, garlic, 3 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon pepper and ¼ teaspoon salt. Whisk together until combined.

Move green beans to a large serving bowl. Pour dressing over beans and toss. Add Parmesan cheese (grated or shaved) and croutons. Toss and serve.

Storing Hail Caesar Green Beans

I don’t recommend freezing any leftovers because the beans will lose their snap. Instead, keep them in an air-tight container for up to four days. The croutons will go soft, however, so when you serve the leftover beans, simply set out to bring to room temperature, remove the softened croutons and toast in an air fryer for a few minutes. You can also easily toast new croutons, too, which is honestly the better choice.

My daughter loved Hail Caesar Green Beans. With perfectly toasted croutons, salty Parmesan, and the savory anchovy-based dressing that coats crisp fresh green beans, this dish rules as our new favorite side. Give them a try and comment below how yours turned out.



Want a vegetable side that goes beyond the basics? Try my Zucchini Fritters and St. Louis-Style Street Corn. Two easy recipes that will boost a simple weeknight dinner. Try the corn as a side with grilled burgers or brats instead of fries.

About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

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  • deborahreinhardt

Add this quick and delicious pasta salad to your summer meal line up.

pesto sauce, cheese tortellini, shrimp, lemon for salad
Easy Pesto Tortellini and Shrimp Salad

Are you trying to squeeze in all the summer activities you can this month? I know there are six weeks of summer remaining, and goodness knows the hot and humid weather in St. Louis isn’t going anywhere soon, but psychologically I feel the season is winding down. The final outdoor theater and concert performances are here. In two weeks, my neighborhood and public pools close on weekdays because the kids are back in school. Baseball is marching toward the playoffs (fingers crossed for the Cardinals). All of this plus several projects I’m juggling make for a surprisingly busy life! Who has time to cook?

This recipe for easy Pesto Tortellini and Shrimp Salad is perfect for now. Ready to eat in about 20 minutes (you’d be in line at the drive-through lane longer), this salad has tender shrimp, herbaceous goodness from basil and fresh spinach, sweet tomato, cheesy pillows of tortellini, and that perfectly salty bite from Parmesan cheese curls. It’s summertime on a fork!

To make Pesto Tortellini and Shrimp Salad, which makes six servings, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 1 pound frozen (large 31-40 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach

  • ½ cup fresh basil

  • 2 tablespoons almonds

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 cup sliced grape tomatoes

  • 1 (1-pound) bag frozen cheese tortellini

  • Salt and pepper

pesto in food processor
Savory pesto can be used thicker to toss with warm pasta or thinned out with water to use as a dressing.

Here's how you can make Pesto Tortellini and Shrimp Salad.

Frozen shrimp is a must-have ingredient for busy cooks. Whether making a scampi, salad or quick appetizer, they are ready to use in no time. Plan ahead and lay the bag of frozen shrimp on a paper towel-lined plate and place in your refrigerator overnight. But if you’re pressed for time, empty the shrimp into a large bowl of cold water. Stir occasionally to separate any frozen clumps, and in 10 to 15 minutes, the shrimp will be ready to remove and strain. Place them on a paper towel-lined baking sheet to absorb extra water.

While the shrimp dries, make the pesto. A food processor works best here, but you could use a blender. Coarsely chop the washed spinach and basil. I used the lemon basil I’m growing this summer which helped add brightness to this sauce and balanced the garlic.

Crush the garlic and chop almonds. You could substitute walnuts or the traditional pine nuts but I’m too cheap to buy the latter and I didn’t have the former. Drizzle a few tablespoons of oil to get it going and give the mixture an initial blitz.

Turn off the machine, scrape down the sides. Then, as the processor is turned on again, slowly stream in the remaining oil. When it’s at the consistency you want (add a touch of water if it’s too thick), empty the pesto into a bowl. I like to mix in the grated cheese by hand. Stir in the lemon and you’re ready to go.

Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Cook the tortellini as directed. Drain the pasta.

Slice the grape tomatoes.

Because I like the shrimp to be a little warm to serve this salad, I sauté them just before finishing the salad. Pat the shrimp dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Cook the shrimp until they just start to turn pink (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat.

You’ll need a large serving bowl into which you’ll add the pasta, tomatoes, and shrimp. Toss with the pesto and serve immediately.

I can’t eat shellfish. What other protein can I use?

Chicken would work beautifully in this recipe. Marinate about eight chicken tenders in Italian-style dressing for at least two hours. If you have a grill pan, this is a plus; otherwise just cook the chicken in a skillet and allow the tenders to cool before cutting into 1-inch pieces.

Make this a vegetarian dish by using jarred or canned cannellini beans instead of shrimp or chicken. Versatility is one of the great things about this recipe. I hope you'll try it soon!


Other hearty salads perfect for a quick summer meal include my mom's Deli Rotelle Pasta Salad and Doritos Taco Salad. Grab these recipes to power you through a busy August.

About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

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