Grilled Pancetta Wrapped Salmon Skewers

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written here and I’d like to say it’s because we’ve stopped eating — our waistlines would most likely appreciate it if we had — but sadly, that is not the case.  With my youngest son’s last year of high school recently drawn to a close and my own reinstatement as par-boiled domestic engineer coinciding with that of my son’s accomplishment, I’ve been distracted.  I’ve spent 31 years raising my children and had a busy career for much of it, so one might think that with endless amounts of time to look forward to, I’d roll up my sleeves and get on with whatever I’d wanted to do when time didn’t allow.  Instead, I’ve been involved in perfecting the fine arts of avoidance and procrastination.  Meals I’ve prepared have been relatively simple and those I’ve experimented with and taken the time to shoot have had photos languishing on my hard drive waiting for even the tiniest hint of motivation.  It seems that impending empty nest syndrome is alive and well in Paradise.

My son will be off to college late in August and so I’ve spent quite a bit of time taking stock of our lives.  Sounds heavy, doesn’t it?  Somewhat like pushing away from the table after a huge holiday dinner vowing never to eat again — unless it’s light and healthy, of course.  From a non-food perspective, this would mean we’re taking things lightly this summer — the summer before we’re sans children in residence.  The summer before we look at one another and say, “Where did all those years go, and how did we get to be this old?”

Time flies.

It seems that light, uncomplicated, and nutrient packed food is in order — like salmon.  Maybe we can dupe our bodies into thinking they’re spry again.  It’s a start, right?

This recipe is quick, tasty, and requires little or no prep.  Perfect for warm weather and relaxing times.

Grilled Pancetta Wrapped Salmon Skewers

1/4 c. + 2 T extra virgin olive oil

2 T red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 green onion, sliced very thin

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. freshly cracked pepper

1 lb. salmon

4 oz. pkg. pancetta

In a small bowl, lightly mix 1/4 c. olive oil, vinegar, garlic, parsley, onion, salt, half the pepper and set aside.  Heat grill to medium high.

To make the skewers, slice skin from the salmon and discard.  Mix 2 T of olive oil with the remaining pepper and rub over both sides of the salmon.  Cut into even cubes about 1″ in size.  Unroll each pancetta circle, and using two for each cube of salmon, wrap one around 4 sides, then a second to cover the remaining sides, securing it with a toothpick.  Continue until all the salmon is wrapped.

Wipe a grilling basket with an oiled paper towel and set salmon pieces inside.  Place the basket on the grill and cook covered about 2 minutes before turning once.  Cook an additional 2 minutes until salmon is just cooked through.

Drizzle the parsley sauce over and serve the remaining quantity for additional dipping.


  • I adapted this from a recipe published in the June 2010 issue of Sunset magazine which calls for a more traditional threading of several salmon cubes onto longer skewers.  If you don’t have a grilling basket, this would clearly work better unless your grill grate has narrow gaps.
  • If you don’t have a grill that registers temperature, in order to tell if the the heat is ready for cooking, hold the palm of your hand 5 inches from the surface of the grill.  If you can leave it there 2 seconds, then it’s about medium high heat.
  • Searing the salmon pieces in a hot skillet or broiling them would be an alternative way to enjoy this recipe.
  • The parsley vinaigrette is very nice.  I’m more inclined to use lemon or lime juice but enjoyed the red vinegar in this recipe, its acid just right for the richness of each bite.  I’m thinking that a good shake or two of dried pepper flakes would be a tasty addition next time.
  • Pancetta is similar to bacon in that both are cured pork belly; however pancetta is not smoked.  If you substitute bacon, consider using only 1/2 slice of bacon per cube of salmon.
  • We don’t often eat salmon because of its rich taste but enjoyed this recipe quite a bit.  The small portions were perfect for a light and very flavorful meal and would be a great addition to a party platter or as a starter course for a more formal dinner.
  • Lucky is the person who can benefit from a couple of pieces left over the next day for lunch.  The flavor is still excellent if not more so.  Wrap well after cooled and then store in the fridge.
  • I used wild-caught Alaskan Coho for this recipe.  It caught my eye because I hadn’t previously noticed it in the fish case at the market and it was less costly than the King Salmon normally sold.
  • For information regarding responsible consumption of salmon and other types of fish, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch is always a great resource.
  • Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids reported to be of benefit for a variety of health reasons, but you probably already knew that, didn’t you?  All things considered, the recommended number of portions of salmon per week is only one.

22 thoughts on “Grilled Pancetta Wrapped Salmon Skewers

  1. What a great idea for an appetizer. I love both pancetta and salmon, I have a dinner party coming up soon and this is on the menu. Thanks!

  2. Yum – looks delicious and glad to see you back at the blog! We found that once you get the hang of it, the empty nest is a wonderful stage of life. Less harried, quieter and cleaner, easier to be spontaneous, yet so fun when the adult kids come home to visit. Hope you settle into it once your son heads off!

  3. These look fantastic! I love it when simplicity and flavor go hand in hand. I’ve been looking for a great way to use some maple cured pancetta from a local artisan, and this could be the perfect recipe!

    Good luck adjusting to the “empty” nest… gotta be a big change for you after so many years of hustle and bustle. Will be fun to learn to listen to the silence again.

    1. The maple cured pancetta sounds wonderful! As far as hustle bustle goes, my kids were pretty low maintenance and got along well. What a concept, huh? Silence is a very lovely thing, however.

  4. if you find yourself in need of some tutelage in the art of procrastination, i’m your gal. 🙂
    i don’t like salmon, but the very presence of that lovely pancetta means i’ll not be turning up my nose. 😉

  5. I am so asking my father to make this as an appetizer at least ONCE this summer~

    PS: “Instead, I’ve been involved in perfecting the fine arts of avoidance and procrastination.” That? Makes TWO of us!!!

  6. I think I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again- I REALLY like your notes. 🙂

    That said, time flies. Wow, it flies. One day, you wake up and realize that 10 years have gone by. Or that’s how we’re feeling… so last night, we booked a last-minute weekend trip to San Francisco. Yippee!

    Congrats on getting your son off to college. And keep these great recipes coming! [K]

    1. Are you supposed to eat it? Heck if I know. Like I said — we rarely eat salmon. Does it count if I mention I nibble on cheese rind or cucumber peelings?

  7. Why is sending our kids off to college such a painful experience when that’s what we have been preparing them to do for years? It took me several years to get used to it. It is nice though to make some decisions just for you and not for them.

    Your salmon skewers looks so delicious, Kelly. I especially like that I can make a small quantity for dinner and lunch the next day. So many recipes make way too much for my empty nest.

  8. Salmon on a skewer! I’ve never heard of such a thing but I LOVE it!! And everything is better in pancetta 🙂 This looks soo delicious!!

  9. These look great. Why didn’t I think of this. I’m of the mind that everything tastes better with bacon. It would give a little bit more moistness to the fish, too. I’m going to try it.

  10. Hi Kelly, if I may I can answer David’s question. I too like to eat the skin from salmon but only if its been cooked so the skin is nice and crispy. The heat of the fire melts the layer of gulatinous fat just under the skin and the skin turns crispy. Yummy! However, when you wrap that piece of salmon in pancetta what you are doing is basically steaming the salmon and that layer of fat and skin turn into gulatinous goop! Yucky! Remove the skin. Hope this helps, Taras

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