You know how sometimes, you go shopping and you see in the corner an unassuming little black dress... And you walk away because, well, you already have three of those hanging in your closet and it'll probably be too plain and you wanted something a little jazzier for the summer anyway? And then you notice a little something out of the corner of your eye, and you turn around, and there it is again, sort of... winking at you? So, you sigh and decided to FINE, give it a try, totally expecting it to be meh and blah and whatever. Then, you put it on and turn to the mirror... and the dress just sings in the way it hugs all the right curves and brings out your eyes and puts a little blush into your cheeks, and you think, "hot damn, it works!"
Well. This recipe was something akin to that experience for me. I stared at it for about a month, sort of intrigued but not really inspired enough to give it a go, until one day, I just had all the ingredients together, and I had the recipe, and ... it sort of winked at me. And I said, FINE, I'll try it out, but I was really kind of skeptical about how it's all going to work. I made the salmon. I tasted it - too sweet! I made the salad. I tasted it - too tart! And then... I tasted them TOGETHER, cooled by a sip (or two, or three; ok, by a couple of glasses) of a dry white wine, and kids, I had the sort of "hot damn, it works" revelation that did actually put the blush back in my cheeks (although, maybe the wine had something to do with that).
I don't make salmon very often, mostly because I eat it at restaurants and it's almost always prepared the same way. In this dish, however, the balance of flavors is so perfect -- sweetness offset by tartness, crispness in perfect harmony with creaminess, tender pink salmon blushing next to the emerald arugula leaves -- that it gives this little black dress a whole new twist.
Honey-Glazed Salmon and Arugula Salad with Lemon-Pepper Dressing
(Adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2008)
6 6-oz salmon fillets (I had 4 slightly larger pieces)
3 tablespoons plus 2 tsp lemon juice, divided
2 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon plus 2 tsp olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
1 1/2 cups arugula
1 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
2 sprigs of rosemary
6 lemon wedges for garnishing
salt and pepper
Whisk honey, 1 tbsp olive oil, chopped shallots and 2 tbsp lemon juice in a small bowl. Place the salmon fillets in a large dish that will hold all of them in a row, rub rosemary over them, then pour marinade on top and stir to coat. Cover and chill for 15 min - 1 hr, turning salmon fillets occasionally.
Position rack in top third of the oven and preheat to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and brush with olive oil. Transfer salmon fillets with some marinade still clinging, to baking sheet and roast until salmon is opaque in center, about 14-16 min.
Meanwhile, toss the arugula leaves in 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk creme freiche or sour cream with 1 tbsp lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.
Place 1 salmon fillet on each plate. Place some of the arugula salad next to the salmon and drizzle the salad with the creme fraiche dressing. Garnish with lemon wedges, and pass some additional sauce alongside. Personally, I liked the sauce so much that I just tossed it with the salad, but the presentation isn't as impressive as the drizzling and garnishing bit, so I guess it depends on your audience. My particular audience (pictured digging in above) was just coming from work and very hungry. He grabbed the plate so fast that I was afraid he would take off my arm along with the plate. As you can imagine, the dainty drizzling really wasn't an option here!