February is American Heart Month! Try this easy, nutrient-rich 35-minute sheet pan salmon recipe with butternut squash and asparagus. Pin it here.
It’s February which means it’s American Heart Month! DYK heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the US? Since its initiation 1963, American Heart Month is all about raising awareness for heart disease and its prevention. Today I have a heart healthy, 35-minute, garlic and fresh dill sheet pan salmon recipe… and I have to say, it’s become one of my favorites.
Disclosures: This post was created in partnership with Ajinomoto. I’m happy to partner with brands with sound science to support their use to provide flavorful, nourishing meals. Thanks for supporting this blog!
Garlic and Dill Sheet Pan Salmon with Butternut Squash and Asparagus
Today I’m pairing my umami-rich salmon with nutrient-rich asparagus (non-starchy veggie) and butternut squash (starchy veggie) for a completely mouthwatering, balanced meal.
Heart Healthy Nutrition
For heart healthy nutrition, we want to build a power-packed meal that – along with including lean protein – is rich in unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants while limiting saturated fats and sodium.
Good-For-You Fats: Salmon & Olive Oil for Heart Health
Salmon is a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats EPA and DHA. In salmon, the fatty white droplets on top and the grey-colored meat next to the skin are rich in omega-3s. Research shows including 8 oz of seafood weekly (averaging 250 mg/d of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA) is associated with reduced risk of cardiac death, and of particular importance to my mamas and moms-to-be, improved infant outcomes. Both the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association recommend fish at least twice weekly. Omega-3 fats are unsaturated fats that may help reduce triglycerides, blood pressure, risk of heart disease and heart attack or stroke.
Olive oil is also rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and anti-inflammatory compounds and associated with improved cardiovascular outcomes.
Asparagus & Butternut Squash
Asparagus and butternut squash both clock in at about 3 g of fiber per cup each. Fiber is a strong, heart health warrior. Fiber helps lower cholesterol levels and is associated with reduced risk of stroke and obesity. Fiber has added bonuses of promoting digestive health, glycemic control, controlling appetite and promoting weight management.
Likewise, both asparagus and butternut squash are high in potassium which is a key nutrient for heart health (and most Americans aren’t getting enough of it!). Research has found a significant inverse relationship between potassium intake and blood pressure. Potassium, in a way, helps “clear” the effects of sodium in the body.
Flavorful Low Salt Cooking
High salt diets are associated with increased blood pressure. The DGA recommends ≤2,300 mg of sodium daily (that means 1 tsp or less total for the day!). According to most recent data, over 90% of Americans aged 2 or older are overconsuming salt. Reducing sodium in the diet lowers blood pressure, particularly in those who are hypertensive.
To bring out flavor in this low-salt dish, I used:
- Fresh dill
- MSG seasoning
- Sea salt, with pepper to taste
Fresh herbs, citrus and aromatics like garlic add lots of flavor to dishes, and are particularly great for fish. MSG seasoning enhances flavor by adding umami, which is the fifth taste known for its savory richness. Salmon has naturally-occurring glutamate (or umami, since glutamate imparts an umami taste) and adding MSG helps enhance the richness in both the salmon while adding a deep flavor to the veggies which are low in glutamate.
Cooking with MSG Seasoning
MSG seasoning has 60% less sodium than table salt, which makes it a super simple, heart healthy kitchen swap. I would say it brings out flavor significantly better than table salt, and a little goes a long way. One half teaspoon can be used to easily season a pound of meat or 4-6 servings of veggies.
This is the second recipe I’ve created using MSG seasoning (you can try this Warm Winter Veggie Bowl here). If you haven’t ever cooked with it before – I hadn’t until recently – it’s sold in stores in the US as Ac’cent Flavor Enhancer or Ajinomoto at specialty/Asian markets in the spice aisle. You use it just like you would salt, in its shaker with holes at the top. I dove into the research behind MSG’s safety in my last recipe linked above, but just to reiterate, decades of research support its safety. In my opinion, MSG seasoning is an easy way to bring more flavor to nutrient-rich foods, and especially veggies since they are low in naturally-occurring glutamate.
Sheet Pan Salmon with Garlic and Fresh Dill Recipe
Without further ado, let’s get to the recipe!
Garlic & Dill Sheet Pan Salmon with Butternut Squash and Asparagus
- 4 c butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (I used pre-chopped)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil, divided into three teaspoons
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 2 heaping tsp fresh dill, minced
- 1 lb salmon
- 2 garlic cloves
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/8 tsp sea salt, divided into thirds
- 1/8 tsp Ac'cent flavor enhancer, divided into thirds (MSG seasoning)
- pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400°.
- Prepare the butternut squash in a large mixing bowl by adding 1 tsp olive oil, and a dash of salt, pepper and MSG seasoning. Toss well with hands or a large spoon. Place on a lined baking sheet in the preheated oven and set timer for 15 minutes.
- While the butternut squash is cooking, prepare the salmon and asparagus. Toss the chopped asparagus spears in 1 tsp olive oil, sea salt, pepper and MSG seasoning. Prepare the salmon topping by mixing together 1 tsp olive oil, lemon juice, minced dill, minced garlic, sea salt, pepper, MSG seasoning.
- If using one LARGE sheet pan, after 15 minutes you can take out the butternut squash, move it over and add the salmon and asparagus to the same sheet pan. If using SMALLER sheet pans, add the salmon and asparagus to a separate sheet pan. Top the salmon with the lemon juice/dill topping (if your lemon was exceptionally juicy, hold off on adding all of the topping so it doesn't run from the salmon into your asparagus spears).
- Place salmon, asparagus and butternut squash back in the oven for another 20 minutes until salmon reaches internal temperature of 145°F and is no longer dark pink in the middle. Remove from oven and enjoy :).
Pin this garlic and dill sheet pan salmon recipe with butternut squash and asparagus for later here.