If you’re on social media, rainbow-colored fare has likely crossed your feed in the last few months. Swirled technicolor bagels, psychedelic pasta, a mindboggling unicorn smoothie. How refreshing, then, to feast your eyes on the trend’s total opposite, the original prismatic fare: rainbow trout.

Plentiful in the mountain streams and rivers that surround us, rainbow trout are beloved by the people who catch them and the people who eat them. The shimmery fish has a mild, delicate flavor best enjoyed with the simplest of preparations: butter, lemon, maybe some herbs. If you can catch your own trout and pan-fry them in a hot campfire skillet on a June evening, to the sound of crickets and a cool breeze—you will be living a summer dream (or a Hemingway story at least).

For the rest of us, a few turns of whole, fresh trout on the backyard grill can achieve much the same euphoria. There’s a reason to buy whole trout at the market rather than fillets. It’s the same reason we carry plates and forks and glasses outside to dine al fresco. Not because it’s easier—but because it’s worth it. Moving everyday life outdoors winds us back to simpler times, slowing us down, setting our focus straight. So, grill your trout this summer. When the fish comes off the grill, browned and crispy, heaped with beautiful charred lemons, flake off a tender bite and savor it. Don’t worry about documenting it. Instagram has enough rainbow food.


Serves 8–10


4 fresh whole rainbow trout, cleaned and gutted
Juice of 2 lemons
3 Tbs. olive oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
3 lemons, sliced 1 small bunch fresh dill 1 small bunch fresh chives
Salt and pepper, to taste
Nonstick cooking spray


1. Combine lemon juice and olive oil in a large, shallow glass dish. Season the inner cavity of each trout with salt and pepper; then stuff each fish with shallot slices, lemon slices, and a few stems of dill and chives. Place gently into marinade. Refrigerate for up to an hour, turning occasionally.

2. Heat a grill to medium-high, about 400ºF. Be sure to clean grill grates very well, scrubbing with a bristle brush and spraying them with nonstick cooking spray.

3. Coat fish in oil from the marinade to prevent sticking and gently lay fish diagonally across the grill grate. Close the lid and cook for 5–8 minutes, depending on fish thickness. The fish should release when cooked long enough; turn and grill for another 5–8 minutes. Meanwhile, grill the leftover shallot and lemon slices.

4. Serve trout warm, with grilled lemons and shallots and fresh dill.

Photography by Jivan Davé