Dijon Herb Salmon Salad + Behind the Lens

I’ve been collecting ideas for recipes for as long as I can remember.

Since elementary school, I’ve had recipes scribbled down in my math workbook, tucked away in my safe keeping box, scattered throughout the drawers of my desk on little pieces of scrap paper, and most recently, organized in my outlook folder.

With the years of hoarding you’d think coming up with a new and exciting recipe would require little forethought, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The process of an initial recipe idea to final blog post is quite the adventure.

As I was sifting through my recipe binder yesterday, I thought it’d be fun if I shared a bit of the process with you!

I carry around a little notebook with me that I use to jot down things like recipes ideas, inspirations, business ideas, whatever comes my way.

When I write down a recipe idea, usually just a title or a concept, I email it to myself later with an outline of the ingredients I want to use and any notes I think will be helpful when I come back to it. Then, when I’m ready to take on a new batch of recipes (usually on the weekend) I choose a couple that pop out at me from the email of ideas, then type them up with the measurements and directions I plan to use. I print it, then set it aside on my desk for awhile to mull it over.

The mulling stage can take a couple hours, days, weeks… and sometimes months. During that time, I change a bunch of things on the paper – adjust ingredients, titles, directions, and do research if need be on proper technique and ingredient combinations.

Once I’m feeling good about my idea, I draft up what the set will look like when the recipe is complete and ready to photograph. This is my favorite part!

I usually go into my prop room for this and sit on the floor looking up at the shelves. It helps get the creative juices flowing (that and I can just see everything I have… makes it easier)

Raw Lemon Pudding:

Cardamom Vanilla Porridge:

Hot and Wild Roasted Veggie Salad:

Citrus Summer Lentil Granola:

Eggplant Curry:

Today’s recipe (aka Today’s lunch):

As you can see, sometimes I stick with what I’ve drawn and sometimes I go in a completely different direction. The sketch is there to help guide the composition of the photo because without it, I’d most certainly get stuck creating the same scene for each and every recipe.

I can’t find it in my heart to throw out the pieces of paper – final measurements, directions, sketches and all, so I’ve collected them in a binder for safe keeping. This weekend, I organized all of the papers by date and marveled at just how much love and care that goes into everything I share with you all.

I’m so lucky to have found something I love doing!

And that I get to celebrate it with chowing down on some fresh baked salmon.


print, email or text this recipe

Dijon Herb Salmon Salad + Behind the Lens
Recipe type: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free, Yeast-free, Corn-free, Grain-free, Nut-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
Fresh and easy salmon salad with a light herb Dijon dressing.
  • ½ English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise then sliced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 4 sticks celery, diced
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon gluten-free Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¾ teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves – about 2 sprigs
  • ¾ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves – about 4 bunches
  • ¼ teaspoon Himalayan rock salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  1. Turn the broiler of your oven on and line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place salmon on the foil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil fish about 4-5 inches from the heat for approximately 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Thinner steaks take between 5-8 minutes. When salmon is golden brown on top, remove and set aside to cool.
  3. Once cooled, break apart and place in a large bowl. Add cucumber, tomato, celery and green onions and set aside.
  4. Place dressing ingredients in a small food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Pour over top of vegetable mixture.
  5. Sprinkle salad with fresh parsley and mustard seeds.
  6. Serve on a bed of greens, as a sandwich filling, or straight up!


    Going through my completed recipes binder felt like flipping through mini accomplishments I’ve achieved which is why I probably can’t find it in me to throw them out. Do you have something similar in your life? Awards posted to your walls, something you hold on to remind you just how awesome you are? Do share!

    Pin It

    Comments | Leave Your Comment

    1. I love all of your scribbles! Making notes like that always looks so scientific and complex. :)

      Love the salmon salad, too! I can’t get enough salmon; I must eat it 3-4 times a week. YUM!

    2. Thanks for this insight Leanne! I have a similar plan for recipe development but I loved reading about how you plan your photo sets too. That is something I really need to do more of! Question – do you use white reflectors in your photography? I’m thinking about getting some big white cards to experiment with, and I’m hoping the difference will be big enough to be worthwhile!
      As for things I hold on to, I used to hang on to TONS of magazines. I’m not sure why, but I had an enormous drawer overflowing with Womens Health, Shape, Self, Chatelaine, AND Oxygen. I always tear them apart when I’m making my yearly vision boards because they have great inspirational pictures, but each year now, I’ve promised myself that once the vision board is made, I get rid of the stash (at least 80% of it!) because there are more on the way!

    3. You work on your recipes the way a writer works on their stories. I love that you sketch out the plating though. I should try that – I’m so bad at plating and presentation.

    4. Wow, this salad looks amazing, I have been on a HUGE salad kick as of late!
      And YAY – so fun seeing your process, Leanne. Super inspiring. I find myself rushing the photo process some times, only to wish I had taken more time to plan out what I was going to do ahead of time. I am totally going to try out your method of sketching the plating and photo stages. So brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

    5. Wow…no wonders your photos always look so incredible!!! Your effort is admirable :)

    6. I can’t believe you draw/write it out!? I just start putting the food on plates, start putting it on the photography surface, and rearrange as necessary. I do plan what color I am going to shoot, like dark choc cookies will go on a lighter plate, not a navy blue plate, for example, but I just kind of wing it based on what I have, what I think will look good, etc. I love your attention to details!!!

    7. Leanne this is all so impressive, and I would not expect anything less. The work you put in and the passionate dedication shows. All the time.

      I love my notes too – I have an Idea notebook and a Recipe notebook – they are both fun to look back on.

      Photography for me is much more organic – I sometimes know exactly what I will use, other times I am choosing at the last minute. I have another actual photography job next month, and those I always approach with more planning. I wonder if it is because spabettie is “just a hobby” that I don’t do this more? Hmm…

      • Aw, thanks Kris! I wish I could be more organic. Perhaps when August comes around and I’m doing the blog full time I can be a bit more spur-of-the-moment! I didn’t know that you did photography work, that’s SO exciting. You’re so incredibly talented that this feels like a natural move for you.

    8. happy belated birthday leanne!!! (i’m a tad behind on my blog reads…)
      i can’t wait to see what your year brings :)

      • Thank you, Lou! I’m pretty excited about it too!

    9. Just found your blog and I LOVE it! Pics are fab and I can’t wait to try your recipes. Very talented and all of your hard work is greatly appreciated! You can tell every pic is well thought out.

      • Hi Brittany, thank you for your amazing comment. You’ve made my day! Great of you to stop by and say hello!

    10. wow, well your hard work definitely pays off- your photos, recipes, and posts are always flawless looking! I’m much more of a wing-it style blogger. I even write the recipe down afterrr I decide its a good one. And the pictures are very piece together, decide if I like it, re arrange, try again etc.

    11. Glad to know I am not the only one who always seems to be scribbling down recipe ideas and has food on the brain: when I was writing finals last month, I would go back through my notes to study and I would find these mini ingredient lists in the margins. Obviously more important than the class notes themselves! I have since gotten myself a little ideas notebook.

    12. Wow, you put in so much effort, it’s fantastic… I’m not so much of a planner, I usually just “wing” things… I work better creatively that way. It’s cool to see someone else’s creative process :)

    13. i just made this tonight for my boyfriend! we are chilling it in the fridge first before we eat it since i think it would be best served all chilled, and while the flavours have marinated. almost like a tuna salad! i had a test bite – i think it will be pretty good! i didnt have mustard seeds so i used sesame seeds . hopefully it doesnt make that much of a difference.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Rate this recipe: