Last weekend I took a walk through the spring farmers market. I wanted to make something special, and was looking for inspiration. At first my focus fell on the new arrivals of seasonal vegetables, especially ramps and leafy greens. I really wanted a fresh side that would hold up in a fancier dish. Then, walking past the local fishmongers, an idea was born.
Bright sautéed greens with salmon, a fish that is nicely complemented but not overpowered by strong flavors. I also remembered I had some leftover pecans in the pantry, just enough to chop up and make a nice crust over the fish.
The purple potatoes, also from the greenmarket, made it a bit more special and colorful.
I love the way this meal looks on the plate — it's so vibrant! It's simple, yet flavorful, and the pecans add a nice texture to the fish. Nina originally paired this salmon with sautéed ramps, a combination that works quite well together. I wish I could have followed her lead, but I had a tough time tracking them down. Instead, I opted for a side of quick-sautéed baby spinach.
This is the exact kind of meal I would turn to on a rushed weeknight, when I want to get dinner on the table in a hurry. You probably wouldn't guess by looking at it, but this dinner comes together quickly (and with minimal prep). Like, from start to finish, you could be eating in 20 minutes — kind of quick!
Pecan-Crusted Salmon with Sautéed Greens & Potatoes
3 to 4 small purple potatoes (or small red-skinned potatoes), sliced thinly 4 4-ounce salmon fillets
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional for seasoning ramps and potatoes
1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus additional for seasoning ramps and potatoes
9 ounces baby spinach (or other green)
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until just starting to brown. Stir, flipping potatoes onto their other side, and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until tender and golden-brown.
Meanwhile, combine the pecans, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Brush salmon fillets with a thin coating of oil, then press pecan mixture all over fillets. In a separate pan, heat another tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Cook the salmon in the pan, 5 to 6 minutes per side, until it is opaque and easily flakes in the middle. (If the pecans are darkening too early, you can finish the fish in a 400°F oven for about 5 minutes.) Remove the salmon from heat and set aside.
When the potatoes are tender, spoon them into a bowl and cover, then set aside while you finish the dish. Heat the last tablespoon of oil in the pan, add spinach, and sauté until just barely wilted, about 2 minutes.
Plate each serving of salmon with some potatoes and greens.
This recipe has been edited — originally published April 2008.