It's amazing how the weather dictates what we want to eat, isn't it? Even if you're not consciously trying to cook with the seasons, you want braises and stews when it's cool out, and food that is lighter and brighter when it's warm.
This decidedly warm-weather salmon is bathed in an olive-oil-and-herb mixture and cooked at a fairly low temperature to let it cook through without browning, and give it a very tender texture. Then it's perched on a pile of spring-y greens — you can use any baby lettuce mix you like, or create your own. Mix that with a pile of additional fresh herbs, toss with some fresh lemon juice and good olive oil, and the whole thing tastes like late spring has willed itself into a meal.
Would I eat this in November? Sure. But I am craving it now.
Sometimes I like salmon to be browned and crispy, but in this case I was going for a more delicate, poached texture so the herbs would retain their color, and the whole dish would be soft and gentle. Summer is peak season for wild Alaskan salmon, which has a more pronounced salmon flavor than farm-raised; I used Coho salmon here, with a deep, rich, reddish-orange color. Grab it when you see it.
You could cook the salmon ahead of time and let it cool to room temperature. Then dress and assemble the salads just before cooking, which makes this a great recipe for a relaxed summer lunch.
HERBED SALMON SALAD
Start to finish: about 35 minutes
4 6-ounce salmon fillets
5 scallions, white and light green parts only, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh dill sprigs
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
6 cups baby salad mix, or a mix of purslane, butter lettuce, Boston lettuce and mache, for example
1/2 cup whole fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup sliced chives
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a baking pan with nonstick spray, or lightly oil the pan. Place the salmon filets in the pan.
In a small food processor, blend together the scallions, 1/3 cup olive oil, dill, 1/4 cup parsley leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread the mixture over the salmon, and bake for about 16 to 18 minutes, just until the salmon is barely cooked through and flakes easily. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan, until just warm.
For the salad, in a large bowl, mix together the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus salt to taste. Add the lettuces, 1/2 cup parsley leaves and chives, and toss. Divide the salad between 4 plates and place a piece of salmon atop each pile of greens, removing the skin if you wish. Serve while the salmon is warm, or at room temperature if you prefer.
Nutrition information per serving: 483 calories; 292 calories from fat; 33 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 106 mg cholesterol; 384 mg sodium; 6 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 39 g protein.
Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman/