What a whirlwind the past week has been! First of all I want to thank all of you for your kind words and support regarding Adventures in Cooking’s Saveur Best Food Blog Awards: Best Original Recipes nomination. Voting ends Friday so if you haven’t voted yet, pop on over and take a look at all the beautiful blogs in the pool. I’ve been busy sprucing up the garden, doing some major spring cleaning, and just starting to pack for my first real vacation in a long while. I love traveling, but haven’t gone outside of the state of California (other than home to Oregon to visit family) for a few years now, which has definitely begun to feel far too long as of late. But all that is about to change!! Yes, in a few short days I will be heading to the wonderful world of maple and organic farms that is the state of Vermont (or at least, what I know of Vermont).
This is going to be an amazing trip for two reasons. 1) I am going to finally meet in person the wonderful Carey of Reclaiming Provincial who I have befriended through the internet over the past several months and we will be taking the cities of Burlington and Montreal by storm. And 2) I am then heading down to the rural Vermont countryside to learn the intricacies of baking from the experts at King Arthur Flour’s headquarters in Norwich for their 2013 Blog & Bake baking seminar.
So with all the preparation for my trip I haven’t had a ton of time for cooking, which ended up being a good thing because it made me come up with this quick and easy little number. I needed a healthy and nourishing meal and I didn’t want to spend more than 40 minutes from start to finish putting it together, and since salmon bakes so quickly I decided to give it a go. And I’m very glad I did. The ground walnut and rosemary coating crisped up in the oven, sealing in the juices of the salmon and creating a moist and flakey fish. And then I made it a little bit less healthy and a lot tastier by drizzling a bit of salted brown butter over each of the filets right before serving, which tasted like a warm, savory, nutty heaven.
For a bit of green, I tossed together a salad from my garden using quinoa leaves and red russian kale. I’ve never seen quinoa leaves for sale at any market, but you can read a bit about the insanity of their nutrition and calcium levels on the chart towards the middle of the page here. That site is also where I got my quinoa seeds, I highly recommend trying to grow them at home if you have a garden. They’re very prolific and incredibly hardy once established. If you don’t have access to any quinoa leaves, spinach is a solid substitute. I drizzled the leaves with a tart and zesty asian-inspired dressing made with ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, lemon juice and vinegar for a bit of a tart kick. Altogether it made a pretty healthy and incredibly tasty meal. Something about that salty brown butter with the toasted walnuts, rosemary and salmon created an intensely rich and wonderfully savory flavor combination. It tasted like something that would cost $40 at a fancy restaurant, but you could make at home in under 40 minutes and for less than half the price! Now that is something worth celebrating.
2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a wide and shallow dish, mix together the walnuts, rosemary, salt, and black pepper. Set aside. Rub the salmon filets with the olive oil, then place them in the shallow dish with the walnut mixture, skin side up. Coat all exposed surfaces of the filet, except the skin, with the mixture and press gently to help the coating stick. Place the filets on a baking sheet lined with tin foil, skin side down. Bake for 10 minutes per inch of thickness (for example, my filets were 2 inches thick so I baked them for 20 minutes). Once done the fish should flake easily with a fork.
While the fish is baking, prepare the brown butter and salad. When browning the butter, it is best to use a stainless steel pan so that you can see the color of the butter change. Yes, I was bad and used a black one, but if you’re doing this for the first time I highly recommend using a stainless steel one so you can see the color change more easily. Heat the butter in a small shallow frying pan over medium heat. Swirl the pan around a bit every couple minutes to help it cook evenly. Over a period of a several minutes, you’ll notice the foam at the top of the butter start to change from light yellow to a dark tan. Once it reaches the dark tan stage and the butter looks light brown and golden, smell it. It should smell nutty and similar to toffee. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
To make the dressing, simply whisk together the sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, lemon juice, and sesame seeds. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and set aside.
When the salmon is done, remove it from the oven and use a spatula to remove it from the tin foil and place it on the serving dish. The skin may be stuck to the tin foil and pull off the filet during this process, that’s fine because we’re not going to eat the skin so it can stay on the foil if it likes. Drizzle the brown butter over the fish filets on the serving tray. Serve with the salad on the side.