Food / Main Dishes / Pescetarian

Cedar Plank Salmon With Fennel and Broccoli Rabe Salad

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Honestly, May was a whirlwind. But we’re finally back into our routine after some much welcomed family time and it feels good. It was nice to dine out night after night and show our fam the delicious and exciting eats that our beloved city, Raleigh, has to offer. But after a while all I want is home cooking; I crave cutting my own vegetables, blending my own flavors, and plopping onto the couch to enjoy them.

And then there’s that euphoric feeling of grilling at home on the deck.

Nothing makes me happier than standing out on a deck and grilling in the glow of the late afternoon. It’s euphoric. Add to that a nice al fresco dinner with wine and good company, and I’m in my truest happy place.

In my mind, this cedar plank salmon, rubbed with herbs and garlic, served over roasted fennel and broccoli rabe salad screams for that exact scenario.

Cedar Plank Salmon With Fennel and Broccoli Rabe Salad.

When I hear “herb and garlic”, my mind goes straight to artificially flavored things—like cream cheeses, crackers, flavoring powders, dry rubs, etc. But in this recipe, herbs and garlic are used in their purest and punchiest forms. I’m talking fresh garlic muddled with fresh basil, rosemary, and thyme snipped straight from the garden.

And then there’s the whole fennel and broccoli rabe situation, which is straight up fabulous in the most simple and approachable way.


I’ve known about this ingredient for years from watching cooking shows and thumbing through frilly cookbooks, but I hadn’t used it myself until very recently.

I think the common comparison to “black licorice” threw me off. Not because I dislike the flavor, but I had a hard time envisioning it in a dish. Eventually I just bit the bullet and snagged one from the produce section at my local grocer; it was staring at me and, working as a food blogger, I felt as if I should get to know this dang plant once and for all. How could I have worked with things like jackfruit, sea beans, and romanesco, but never fennel?

So here’s the deal: fennel is fabulous. The hint of black licorice is just that—a hint. It’s more faint than anise; it’s refreshing, crisp, and it pairs wonderfully with citrus fruits and briny mediterranean flavors, like kalamata olives.

One of my favorite things about fennel is that it’s a heart-healthy veg with strong anti-inflammatory nutrients like folate and vitamin C. It also protects against bone loss with vitamin K, it improves digestion with it high levels of fiber, and it’s an immune system booster.

Toss it with some nutrient-dense broccoli rabe, serve it with some flaky omega-3-rich salmon, and you’ve got a powerhouse.

A delicious, mouthwatering powerhouse.

See a detailed how-to on how to grill fish on a cedar plank here.

If you make this dish, snap a photo and tag me on the Insta @killing__thyme! I love seeing your creations, and you could be featured in my monthly newsletter <3 

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4.95 from 18 votes

Cedar Plank Salmon With Roasted Fennel and Broccoli Rabe Salad

This cedar plank salmon is garlicky, herbaceous, and subtly smokey. Serve it over a bed of roasted fennel and broccoli rabe salad for summer dinner perfection.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Plank soak 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 4
Author Dana Sandonato



  • 1 cedar plank, soaked for 1-2 hours prior to use.


  • 4 6 oz fillets of salmon
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 tsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1.5 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp Cracked black pepper
  • 4 slices of lemon
  • Fennel fronds, for garnish

Roasted Fennel and Broccoli Rabe Salad.

  • 2 fennel bulbs, sliced into 1/4-inch slices You don't have to be exact with the measurement of fennel slices, but you don't want to shave the fennel since we're roasting it.
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup kalamata olives
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe, roughly chopped (ends trimmed and discarded)
  • 1-2 TBSP olive oil
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

For serving.

  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges.


  • Soak your cedar plank for 1-2 hours before use. (You can soak it in plain water or kick things up a notch by soaking it in wine or cider!) Once the plank is ready, remove it from the liquid, dry it off, and set it aside.
  • Preheat your oven to 450° F and your grill to medium heat, about 350° F.
  • Remove your salmon from the fridge and pat your fillets dry with a paper towel. Let the salmon sit out and come to room temperature; this ensures an even cook. This should take about 15 minutes. (Don't put the salmon on the cedar plank yet; you need to place the plank on the grill solo first. Keep the salmon on a portable surface, like a plate.)
  • In the meantime, in a small bowl, mix together the minced garlic, basil, thyme, rosemary, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Evenly spoon this mixture over the salmon fillets and, with clean hands, gently press the rub into the fillets; set aside. 
  • Place the fennel, tomatoes, olives, and broccoli rabe into a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss the salad with your (clean!) bare hands, gently massaging the oil into the broccoli rabe leaves. (The florets don't need to be massaged.) You can add a bit more oil if needed. Once the salad is well tossed, spread it out over a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes burst and the fennel is tender. Stir halfway through cooking time.
  • Once you put the salad in the oven, place the cedar plank on the grill by itself and let the plank sizzle and crackle for about 30 seconds. Then, carefully transfer the salmon fillets from plate to plank. Place a lemon slice on each fillet. Cover, and let the fillets cook for about 12-15 minutes, checking for doneness at the 12 minute mark. You want your fillets to have an internal temp of 140° - 145° F. (The fillets will continue to cook after being removed from the heat; an ideal internal temperature at serving time is 145° F.)
  • With grilling gloves or hefty oven mitts, carefully remove the plank from the grill.
  • Plate your fennel and broccoli rabe salad, place fillets on top, sprinkle with fennel fronds, and serve; squeeze fresh lemon juice over your plate before digging in for an extra punch of bright and fresh flavors.


  • Victoria @ Salmon Recipes
    August 1, 2018 at 1:17 am

    Yeeeep, I’m now craving this whole bowl and I don’t care it’s not even 7am yet. Holy MOLY, Denise!! This salmon is dropdead gorgeous!

  • Linda
    July 9, 2018 at 9:44 am

    4 stars
    Looks delicious! . Can’t wait to try these!

  • Amanda
    July 5, 2018 at 6:54 am

    5 stars
    This is just such a gorgeous dinner. I’ve been drooling over it on social since you posted it. I am such a fennel fan, and it pairs so especially well with seafood. This salad must be the perfect contrast to that buttery, flaky cedar-planked salmon fillet. I think this will be on the menu for my next summer dinner party!

    • Killing Thyme
      July 9, 2018 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks, Amanda! This is such a great dish for a dinner party. Not only is it delish, but it’s just so so easy to throw together. Keep me posted :)

  • Sarah
    July 2, 2018 at 11:23 am

    5 stars
    That is some gorgeous fennel! I think fennel is on of the pretties veggies out there- I love those green fronds. And with cedar plank salmon?! omg- YUM!!! I need this in my life!

  • Julia
    July 1, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    5 stars
    I discovered fennel about 8 years ago when my husband (then fiancee) and I frequented an Italian restaurant that had fennel on their antipasti platter. It’s so good roasted! I love how you used so many herbs! This meal just screams flavour! What a perfect way to celebrate summer garden bounty

  • Amanda
    July 1, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    5 stars
    This dish looks absolutely gorgeous and I have some salmon waiting to be used so…. yeah this is happening soon. I love fennel, but I never think about it when I go shopping. I need to change this

    • Killing Thyme
      July 9, 2018 at 4:59 pm

      I was the same way with fennel. I’d always look at it and kind of smile at the idea, but keep walking. Not anymore, though! It’s just too good.

  • Jennifer Bigler
    July 1, 2018 at 12:46 am

    5 stars
    All of these flavors are the perfect pairing. This is the ultimate summer fish dish that I can’t get tired of. I had never cooked with fennel before, but its a flavor I love. This is a family favorite.

  • Tina
    June 30, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    5 stars
    I’m glad you you dove in to fennel, it’s an amazing veggie and nothing else is quite like it. I have never heard of jackfruit though, how do you use it? What is it most like? This sounds interesting, I’m going to have to try it. Your salmon looks amazing btw!

  • Christine @ Happy Veggie Kitchen
    June 30, 2018 at 8:52 am

    5 stars
    Absolutely gorgeous, everything is cooked to perfection! Broccoli rabe is one of my favorite vegetables and this salad looks amazing and so tasty. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Kathy McDaniel
    June 28, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    5 stars
    Salmon and fennel is such a classic and fabulous pairing. This recipe is just fabulous. I love all the herbs and garlic. They add so much flavor to the fish. I love grilling salmon on cedar planks. It always produces perfectly delicious fish.

  • Gloria
    June 28, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    5 stars
    OMG…we love grilling salmon on cedar planks. Always turns out so delicious and moist. Love the flavour profile happening here. With the HOT HOT HOT long weekend approaching, this just might have to be dinner one night.

  • Stef
    June 27, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    5 stars
    This is so fresh and appealing! And, yes, fennel needs more love. I don’t really think it tastes like black licorice.

  • Lisa Lotts
    June 26, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    5 stars
    This dish reminds me how much I love fennel. I like it raw, but also slow braised. This bright salad looks delicious — and salmon is such a treat — especially at this time of year when you can get the wild salmon from Alaska. I was just up in Raleigh this weekend with a girlfriend and we had a great time visiting the Farmer’s Market and brunching at Poole’s diner. Can’t wait to go back for another visit!

  • Dawn - Girl Heart Food
    June 26, 2018 at 10:35 am

    5 stars
    Ok. Funny story. Years and years ago when I first tried cedar plank salmon I didn’t soak the plank enough. Long story short, I caught it all on fire. Oooooops! Anywho, I know better now and really enjoy it! This looks like one heck of a pairing, Dana! Love the fennel addition. Healthy and delish! Can’t wait to try :)

    • Killing Thyme
      July 9, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      Hahaha, Dawn! I think that’s happened to all of us at some point. I hope you were able to salvage your dinner, but nothing is more of a buzzkill than when something bursts into flames. My husband started a fire in our kitchen last year. Then he panicked and started fanning it and blowing on it. I was like, really dude? Baking soda. Pass me the goddayum baking soda.

  • Roxana
    June 25, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    5 stars
    This is such an interesting recipe. I like how flavorful the salmon recipe is and how you paired it with the veggies. Definitely a keeper.

  • Caroline
    June 25, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    5 stars
    I’m a big fan of fennel and love how it changes as it is roasted. The salad sounds like a great accompaniment to the salmon and it all looks so delicious!

  • Tisha
    June 25, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    5 stars
    Love how you prepared the Salmon and the colors of the salad!!! Looks so appetizing :)

  • Shanika
    June 25, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    5 stars
    Wow, this looks and sounds so amazing! I love Salmon, so I definitely have to make this!

  • Catherine Brown
    June 25, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    5 stars
    This is full of some of the most fantastic flavors… and some of my favorite vegetables!! I’ve never paired broccoli rabe and febbel bulb together… I cannot wait to try this!


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