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 twenty minutes, kind of quick.
3 to four small purple 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
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes and let cook or approximately 3 to 5 minutes and just starting to brown. Stir, flipping potatoes onto other side, and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until tender, and brown.
Meanwhile, combine the pecans, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Brush salmon fillets with thin coating of oil, then press pecan mixture all over fillets. In a separate pan, heat another tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Brown the salmon in the pan, about 5 to 6 minutes per side. (If the pecans are darkening too early, you can finish the fish in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes.) Remove 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 pan, add spinach and sauté until just barely wilted, about two minutes.
Serve at once!
This recipe has been edited - originally published April 2008.