Summer break is officially over and the first day of school in Barrington 220 has arrived! That means new schedules leaving less time for meal planning and prep. Don’t panic and resort to frozen pizzas just yet. Here’s a quick and easy meal that will impress your gang with fresh summer flavors piled onto crispy pan seared salmon. With just a few minutes of prep this meal can be on the table in 15-20 minutes.
If you like to get things done ahead of time, the salsa is easy to prep earlier in the day and have ready at dinner time. Just a few ingredients to chop and toss into a bowl and a simple dressing.
If you shy away from salmon because you have made it incorrectly and ended up with dry tasteless fish then you’re in the right place. I’m going to explain how to make moist, perfectly cooked fresh salmon filets with crispy restraunt quality skin.
Perfect pan-seared salmon should have crisp skin and moist, tender flesh. Start by drying the skin side of the fish with paper towels. To keep your salmon from sticking to the pan make sure the pan is pre-heated and the oil is starting to glisten. If the pan is not hot enough when you begin, as it heats up the fish will form a bond with the pan surface making it hard to turn without destroying the skin. The key is to cook the salmon most of the way through with the skin side down in order to insulate the delicate flesh from the direct heat of the pan.
Today I served this dish with mashed cauliflower. I’ve finally perfected the process so that the end result is creamy and smooth like mashed potatoes. It was delicious served under the salmon then topped with the sweet salsa, a great combination of flavors and textures.
Pan Seared Salmon with Corn and Peach Salsa
- 1 1/2 lbs. fresh wild-caught salmon fillets
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
For the Salsa
- 2 medium ears of sweet corn, charred or grilled
- 2 small nectarines or peaches, diced small (I use one of each)
- 1/2 seedless cucumber, diced small
- 1 small jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, minced
- 1/4 c. diced red onion
- 1/4 c. cilantro, minced
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbsp water, as needed to thin
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Press salmon fillets between paper towels to dry surfaces thoroughly. Season on all sides with salt and pepper.
- In a large stainless, cast iron, or carbon steel skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Reduce heat to medium-low, then add a salmon fillet, skin side down. Press firmly in place for 10 seconds, using the back of a flexible fish spatula to prevent the skin from buckling. Add remaining fillets one at a time, pressing each with spatula for 10 seconds, until all fillets are in the pan.
- Cook, pressing gently on back of fillets occasionally to ensure good contact with skin, until skin releases easily from pan, about 4 minutes. If skin shows resistance when you attempt to lift a corner with spatula, allow it to continue to cook until it lifts easily. Continue to cook until salmon registers 110°F (43°C) in the very center for rare, 120°F (49°C) for medium-rare, or 130°F (54°C) for medium, 5 to 7 minutes total.
- Using spatula and a fork, flip salmon fillets and cook on second side for 15 seconds, then transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Serve immediately.
- To make the salsa, char the corn either on a grill, under the broiler, or in a skillet. Shave the kernels from the cob and add to a large bowl along with the diced nectarines or peaches, diced cucumber, minced jalapeno, diced red onion, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, water, garlic, honey, and salt.
- Pour over the salsa and stir to coat.
- 2 (16-ounce) packages riced cauliflower, or 1 large head cauliflower (about 3 pounds)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Finely chop the cauliflower (for whole cauliflower only): Halve the cauliflower through the stem. Cut a “V” shape around the core to remove the core from each half. Finely chop the cauliflower. The smaller the pieces, the faster the cauliflower will cook and the creamier the finished dish will be.
- Place cauliflower in a sauce pan with the water and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Boil until tender: Cover and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes.
- Drain with a fine mesh strainer over a large bown, reserving the cooking liquid.
- Return the drained cauliflower to the empty pot. Add the butter and additional seasoning to taste.
- Mash or purée using an emersian blender or food prossesor. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid as needed (do not over add) to desired consistency.
About the Author
Photographer Sally Roeckell specializes in contemporary lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on food photography. Her Blog, Table and Dish is a website devoted to celebrating and curating the many ways that food binds us. Sally hopes that her recipes and images will inspire you to gather your friends and family in the kitchen to make memories, use the time to connect with busy kids, chat over mixing bowls, get messy, laugh, sing, set the table, clear the table, pass the salt, debate the days topics and pray. You can follow her here as a weekly contributor to 365Barrington and Heinen’s as well as via Table and Dish on Instagram and on her website at TableAndDish.com.
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Heinen’s Grocery is located at 500 N. Hough Street, between E. Main Street and Route 14 (next to Meatheads) in Barrington, Illinois. They’re open 7 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit Heinens.com.