There’s nothing quite like the simple joy of hosting a backyard summer gathering. With the table set with relaxed linens and timeless dinnerware, the playlist queued, and all the details accounted for, there comes the most important element: the menu. In a quest for the best summer recipes for a crowd, Jenni Kayne enlisted my help to create a menu for easy-going gatherings.

This Harissa Salmon Burger is a favorite amongst clients and friends. Salmon is easy for a gathering and tastes delicious at any temperature (cold, room temp or hot off the grill). All the warming spices like cumin, coriander, and spicy Harissa add so much flavor and complexity to salmon. I like to quickly shave cucumbers, chiles, and onions on a mandolin and pickle them for guests to pile onto their  burgers.


  • 1.5 lb salmon cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 5 scallions whites only, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • ½ cup½ cup homemade aioli or store-bought mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp red harissa sauce or paste
  • pinch of fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • butter lettuce, pickled cucumber and brioche buns to build the burgers


Using a food processor, take half the salmon meat and pulse it into a paste in the food processor, and place into a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining salmon, peppers, and scallions. Season with cumin, coriander, salt and pepper to taste.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Portion and press the salmon burger meat into patties and place onto a baking sheet. Allow the burgers to set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking (you can do this the night before).

While the burgers are setting, make the harissa spread. In a small bowl mix the aioli or mayonnaise with 2 tbsp of red harissa.

To cook, heat a cast-iron skillet, once the pan is warm in the center, drizzle with grapeseed oil to coat the pan evenly. Cook the burgers until golden brown on both sides.

Serve the burgers on toasted brioche buns and layered with harissa spread, butter lettuce, pickled cucumbers. Serve immediately.

Images by Kate Berry for Jenni Kayne