Sunday, January 27, 2008

Salmon, Salad, Bread

I am not a 'Semi Homemade' person. Nor am I a gourmand. I am somewhere in between in that I don't think any dish is worth slaving for hours and hours over nor do I believe in using artificial substitutes just because they save time (i.e. using lime juice from those green plastic limes versus whacking open a real one and squeezing. Nigella - are you listening?)

Here is a meal that will appease any and all schools of foodie thought. It's simple to prepare and cooks in 20 minutes - more like assembly line cooking than proper cooking. But the beautiful thing is - the ease of prep doesn't show a bit in its sublime flavors. And if you can handle a smidge of butter in your diet (not anywhere near Paula Deen levels, mind you), it's a meal you can feel good about eating - packed with antioxidants and vitamins.

This is a Meat and Potatoes feast, via the west coast, with a quick jaunt through Italy from the salad ingredients, versus the deep south. (Though I will say that my mom makes incredible salmon - my favorite coming home from college meal - from which this recipe was inspired.) May I introduce you to: salmon, salad, bread...

Serves 2


1 lb salmon fillet (preferably wild and best quality available)
salt and pepper, to season
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh dill
juice from half a lemon
1/2 a clove a garlic, grated with a rasp grater or finely minced

Preheat oven to 400 and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (greased.) Place the salmon fillet, whole, onto the sheet and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt, or kosher salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Thoroughly combine the butter, dill, lemon and garlic in a small bowl with a fork or whisk. Reserve 2 teaspoons of this mixture setting aside, then pour the rest evenly over the salmon.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the flesh is just cooked through and the skin crisp (flesh will be opaque all the way through - a light beige pink - versus the ruby grapefruit color it was when you first met it.) Let rest a few minutes, then cut in half and serve. You can also scoop it out of the skin before serving, if desire, by slipping a thin spatula in between the flesh and skin, gently prying end to end.

* 2 minutes before removing, spread the 2 reserved teaspoons of the butter mixture between a fat wedge of best quality French baguette, sliced and smeared with said concoction, then re-assembled and stuck in the oven (for 2 minutes or so) to heat through.

THE SALAD (and a suggestion for the dressing, prepared while the salmon cooks)

Enough fresh, baby spinach for 2 people (3/4 a small bag, or 2 scant cups)
5 sundried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and slivered
1/3 cup canned cannelini beans, rinsed in water and drained
handful fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Add all to your salad bowl, then apply the dressing.

THE DRESSING (almost any oil based dressing will do, even a balsamic, or if you want to blaze your own path, feel free, just remember that any dressing is 1 part acid to 3 parts oil, and taste, taste, taste before you pour over your beloved lettuce.)

juice from 1/2 a lemon (the leftover half from the salmon)
3 (though I admit to upping it to 4 if using a particularly obese lemon half) tblspns olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 small garlic clove, finely minced or grated with a rasp OR 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs, preferably dill to mimic the salmon
small pinch salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a small jar or tupperware container - cover the top - and shake like hell. Or add to a small bowl and whisk passionately. I find shaking easier, myself. Taste it to see if it needs more lemon (if it's too sweet) or more honey (if it's too tart) and make the necessary adjustments.

Add 1/2 the dressing to salad bowl and toss thoroughly. (If using your own dressing, add about 3 tablespoons, toss thoroughly, then taste to see if you need more. Reserve extra dressing in the fridge (the above dressing should stay for 3-5 days.)

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