I don’t eat salmon that often, but when I do I like it only two ways: grilled or slow roasted. In fact, I had some delicious grilled salmon with my family last week that our friend caught in Alaska this past summer. My mother froze it and was saving it for a good occasion over the holidays, and when my flight was delayed three hours because of snow and I had some extra time to have dinner with my family on my last night, it was the perfect time to enjoy the salmon. My father paired it with two bottles of Pinot Noir – one from Anderson Valley and one from Oregon – and my mom made a side of braised bok choy and quinoa pilaf. The whole meal was a great send off, and it got me in the mood for more salmon!
Since I don’t have a proper grill at the moment, I settled for my usual slow-roasting. This recipe is also from the January 2014 issue of Bon Appetit, which I am quickly cooking through. I served it with a side of cold Mediterranean Fregola Salad, inspired by a similar pasta salad made by June & Ho in Rye, my hometown. Fregola can be found at most specialty markets or Italian food shops, or can be ordered online. If you can’t find it, you can substitute for Israeli couscous.
Mediterranean Fregola Salad (serves 4)
- 1 cup dry Fregola
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta
- 2 TB olive oil
- juice from 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Citrus and Chiles (serves 4)
- 1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced with a mandolin
- 1 blood orange, very thinly sliced with seeds removed
- 1 lemon, very thinly sliced with seeds removed
- 1 Jalapeño with seeds, thinly sliced
- 4 dill sprigs, plus more for serving
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 medium skinless salmon fillets, or one 2-lb fillet
- 1/2 cup olive oil
The salad is best served cold so make it the night before, giving it time to chill. Boil water for the Fregola and cook for about 14 minutes, or until cooked but slightly al dente. Drain and let cool. Meanwhile, combine dill, parsley, red onion, feta, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Once Fregola is cooled, add to the bowl with other ingredients and toss with lemon and olive oil. Refrigerate for two hours, or up to overnight. It will keep for about 4 days, but I’m sure it will get eaten before then!
As for the salmon, start by preheating the oven to 275 degrees. Toss fennel, orange slices, lemon slices, jalapeño and dill in a shallow baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Lightly season salmon with salt and pepper then place into the baking dish, topping with some of the citrus and fennel so that it absorbs the flavors while cooking. Pour oil over the salmon.
Cook for 40 minutes in the oven, or until salmon is just cooked through and flesh is opaque. Transfer salmon to a platter, breaking it into pieces as you go. Spoon fennel mixture and oil from baking dish over. Discard cooked dill sprigs and replace with fresh ones.
The flavors in the salmon are delicious, and they match perfectly with the Fregola salad. I skipped the wine last night because I had a happy hour before dinner, but when I make this again I will pair it with a Pinot Gris or Dry Riesling – something with good citrus and crisp minerality. You could also try a Marlboro Sauvignon Blanc; the grassy notes will compliment the dill while still balancing the citrus components.