Appetizers/ Fish & Seafood

From Garden to Table – Spinach and Basil Smoked Salmon Roll

I cook a lot lately with basil and I love it. Here is a little history lesson from The Spice Book, 1964.

BASIL Cut with a Golden Sickle

“Cooks gifted with a flair for seasoning have ever treasured basil as one of the most savory of culinary herbs. More delicate than some of the lustier herbs, like oregano, it may be used generously in a variety of vegetables to lend a subtle, if entirely distinctive, flavor.

The word basil stems from two possible origins. One is from the Greek for “royal” or “kingly”; the other, from a tongue-twister, also Greek, meaning “lizard”. In Greek mythology this was indeed a very special lizard, a basilisk, which needed only to look at or breathe upon his victim to kill him.

The Greeks believed that only the sovereign himself should be allowed to cut the basil, using a golden sickle. Yet, according to history, basil was a symbol of hate; why this was so is open to conjecture.

On the other hand, in Italy, basil has always been a token of love, and is called “kiss-me-Nicholas” in some of its regions. Any girl who wears a sprig of basil is suggesting to hear beau, and not too subtly, that there is no need for him to keep his distance. In Romania, however, things are some-what more definite: hewn a boy accepts a sprig of basil from his girl, it means he is engaged!

In its native India, basil, called tulasi, is considered a holy herb and grown in pots near every temple and dwelling of devout Hindus. Though especially sacred to Vishnu, Krishna, and Lakshmi, all the other gods esteem it. too.

Throughout the ages, doctors and herbalists have basil in medicine and magic, although there seems to have been a happy lack of agreement as to its merits for either. “This is the herb which all authors are to-gether by the ears about, and rail at one another like lawyers,” wrote herbalist Nicholas Culpeper in 1652. “Galen and Dioscorides hold it not fit to be taken inwardly, and Chrysippus rails at it with downright Billingsgate rhetoric. Pliny and the Arabian Physicians defend it.”

That this fragrant herb aroused controversy add to its interest. John Gerard, Shakespeare’s contemporary, was enthusiastic, saying: “A smell of Basil is good for the heart and head-cureth the infirmities of the heart, taketh away sorrowfulness which cometh of melancholia and maketh a man merry and glad.”

Whatever its merits or failures may be as a remedy for physical ailments, basil is a delightful contribution to a variety of dishes. Since, as mentioned earlier, it is one of the most delicate herbs, it may be used more generously than lustier ones. Basil blends tastily with tomatoes, but also enhances vegetables such as eggplant, green beans, zucchini, peas, or cooked cucumber dishes. Basil is often used with, or as a substitute for, oregano in pizza topping, spaghetti sauce, or a macaroni and cheese casserole”.

Spinach and Basil Smoked Salmon Roll

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (12 votes, average: 4.08 out of 5)
Serves: 3-4


  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/3 pound light cream cheese
  • grated zest and juice of one 1/2 lemon
  • 2-3 Tbsp. capers
  • 1/2 pound smoked salmon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper



Preheat oven to 350F. Put the spinach into a pan with a little of water, cover and bring to boil and cook for two minutes, then drain and refresh under cold water. Squeeze spinach dry.


Place spinach, egg yolks, basil, salt and pepper into a food processor. Pulse to a smooth paste.


Whisk egg whites until they hold soft peaks then fold into the basil-spinach mixture. Spread this mixture on a baking tray lined with buttered parchment and bake for 15 minutes or until set.Turn baked roulade out onto another sheet of parchment and leave to cool.


For the filling combine cream cheese, dill, lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Place the spinach roulade onto a piece of plastic wrap. Spread the filling evenly over the spinach leaving a side border of 1 cm. Sprinkle with capers, more dill if you like and black pepper. Cover the filling with the salmon slices. Roll up with the help of the plastic wrap. Twist the ends to secure.


Refrigerate for few hours or overnight.

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  • Reply
    August 18, 2012 at 3:46 am

    My sister sent me this recipe for Christmas along with photos, and I still didn't make it! ūüôā It looks beautiful! And your garden is amazing!

  • Reply
    marla {Family Fresh Cooking}
    August 19, 2012 at 12:23 am

    I would love this roll ~ smoked salmon is my favorite!

  • Reply
    August 21, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Yelena, the roll looks absolutely amazing, and the photographs are spectacular as well. Beautiful appetizer ūüėČ

  • Reply
    Nami | Just One Cookbook
    August 21, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Such a gorgeous roll! I've never had it like this but smoked salmon, capers, basil, dill, cream cheese… gosh every flavor is my favorite! Initially I thought you used the premade wrap, but it's all homemade. How wonderful!!

  • Reply
    Peter Block
    August 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I thought these were absolutely beautiful. I am featuring them today on my Friday Five. stop by Feed Your Soul later today to see the post

  • Reply
    Yoon Ah
    September 16, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Wow, this Looks amazing and I love salmon …and spinach +.+
    Is there a possibility to serve this hot? Like, after chilling, putting it in the oven for a few minutes or smth like that? My family dislikes cold food at the table for lunch T-T

  • Reply
    September 16, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    I never served it hot, I think the cream cheese will run in a oven. But if you try it please let me know!

  • Reply
    Zuzana De Jonghe
    January 6, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    May I post your recipe on my blog once I'll make it myself? Would you might?

  • Reply
    January 6, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Zuzana, I am glad that you like my recipe, please share it with your readers. Please re-write the recipe in your own words, or simply link back to this post for the recipe. Thank you. I hope you like the dish!

  • Reply
    VIS-mail Ichthuskerk
    April 13, 2015 at 9:46 am

    How big was the bake tray you used. I am from the Netherlands and here you have lots of different sites bake trays…

  • Reply
    April 13, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    I used 10×15 inch tray, but you don't have to looking for exactly the same size. Just make sure to spread the spinach mixture evenly and not too thick. Good luck! I hope you like it-))

  • Reply
    Aimee Dorn
    December 23, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    How many people does this serve if being used as an appetizer?

  • Reply
    December 23, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    It serves 2-3 people, you can double the recipe if you have more guests.

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