Wednesday, April 09, 2008
SALMON WITH LEMON-PEPPER SAUCE AND WATERCRESS-HERB SALAD
I don’t know what’s up with me lately—I’m craving lemons like crazy. I’ve always been a lemon fan (reverent pause here to contemplate lemon drops, lemonade, lemon meringue pie, lemon bars, and lemon curd), but lately it’s kicked into overdrive. Even coming into possession of an entire grocery bag full of Meyer lemons last month (because yes, I’m one of those obnoxious Californians with coworkers who have trees dripping with unwanted Meyer lemons in their backyards) only further fanned the flames of lemon-lust. This means that either (a) I’m turning into my mother, who is renowned for eating whole lemon wedges without blinking; or (b) it’s spring and there’s nothing springier than lemons, in flavor or color. (Also, they go great with asparagus, which is just coming into season.)
So when I paged through the March issue of Bon Appetit and saw this recipe for lemon-marinated salmon topped with a lemon-dressed salad and a lemon-pepper crème fraiche sauce, my eyes may have briefly bugged out of my head. I already had crème fraiche in my refrigerator, having made lemon chicken just a few nights before (see, I told you I’m lemon-obsessed), so it seemed like destiny. And indeed, this was a perfect recipe for spring—light, easy, prettily pink and green. It wasn’t quite the earth-shattering burst of awesome I’d hoped for (I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as the lemon chicken, for instance), but I’d definitely make it again, especially since I didn’t follow the (somewhat awkwardly written) recipe 100% perfectly the first time: I remembered to buy shallots, but then completely forgot to include them in the marinade, which made me sad. And I couldn’t find watercress or fresh tarragon, so I just used spring-mix salad greens with the dill. That part tasted just dandy to me, but I still would be curious to try it with the watercress. (Tarragon I can take or leave.)
I do have to admit that while I was eating, I kept thinking, “This isn’t nearly lemony enough.” Meanwhile, A kept making a pucker face. I took a bite of his food and realized I’d given him all the salad from the bottom of the bowl, where the oil and lemon juice had pooled. Next time, I’ll take that part!
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice, divided
1 teaspoon lemon zest, divided
1 cup crème fraiche
6 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
1½ cups (lightly packed) watercress leaves and small sprigs
¼ cup small fresh dill sprigs
¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves
Fleur de sal or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 lemon wedges
1. Whisk honey, 1 tablespoon olive oil, shallot, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon lemon zest in a glass baking dish large enough to hold all the salmon fillets in a single layer. Add salmon fillets and turn to coat them with the marinade. Cover and chill 15 minutes to 1 hour, turning salmon occasionally.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and brush it with olive oil. Transfer the salmon fillets, with some marinade still clinging to them, to the baking sheet. Roast until salmon is just opaque in the center, about 14 minutes.
3. While salmon bakes, whisk crème fraiche, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon lemon zest in a small bowl. Season with salt and a generous amount of pepper.
4. Meanwhile, toss watercress leaves and sprigs, dill sprigs, tarragon leaves, remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium bowl. Season with fleur de sal (or sea salt) and pepper.
5. Place 1 salmon fillet on each of six plates. Top with watercress salad. Drizzle with lemon-pepper sauce and garnish with lemon wedges. Serve with additional sauce on the side.
Time: 45 minutes to 1½ hours, depending on how long you marinate