Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
It was a Friday night in late December and I was coming back from Montreal after an exhausting third week of travel to train for a new job. That day I had no chance to get lunch and rushed to the airport toward the end of the day feeling dizzy from the stress and hunger. At the Montreal airport, I stopped at the first restaurant I saw and ordered a salmon salad and a stiff drink. What the waitress brought was a plate of rotting spinach topped with a cold, pale piece of salmon and rings of red onion that tried their best to hide the mess of dangerous food below. I could only imagine how long ago this salmon was prepared and as I contemplated the risk of food poisoning, I imagined the state of the kitchen and asked myself if the cook would dare to eat the salad he just served me.
I poked at the salad, growing angrier because I was frustrated and hungry and this was my only chance to eat something before the flight home. The waitress came over and as I sent the salad back I asked her if she would eat a salad in this condition and she said “sure, I would just cut through the bad parts”.
After a short flight, I got home around ten that evening and was greeted by a hug of savory smells coming from the kitchen. Scott was there preparing an amazingly fresh meal of fiery pink wild sockeye salmon on a bed of crisp, bright and glossy snap peas and peppers. The salmon was topped with a mound of fragrant dill pistou made of coarsely chopped pistachio bound together with a splash of lemon and extra virgin olive oil. I could not stop smiling as I sat to enjoy this dish that stood in such stark contrast to my earlier food experience. Every bite I took filled my heart with deep gratitude and appreciation for the man who cooked it, and as I slowly felt real nourishment breathing back into my body, the food trespasses of that Montreal airport restaurant were slowly forgotten.
I might be biased because of my experience leading up to enjoying this meal, but I have to say that this is a truly inspiring dish. It’s simple, crisp, light and packed with flavor. It’s a meal that lets each ingredient speak for itself. I would highly recommend it.
There is nothing better than coming home to a thoughtful meal prepared with love by your husband after a long week of work and stress. It’s the kind of experience that melts the struggles of the week away and is a humble reminder to be grateful for the simple delightful moments shared with the people you love. Thank you, Scott, for rescuing me that Friday and every day. Happy Valentines Day!
Salmon with Snap Peas, Yellow Peppers, and Dill-Pistachio Pistou
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions (about 2)
1/2 cup shelled natural pistachios or almonds, toasted, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons pistachio oil or extra-virgin olive oil
2 yellow bell peppers or orange bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed, strings removed
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup water
4 6-ounce salmon fillets
1. Mix dill, green onions, pistachios, and 1/4 cup oil in medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers and sauté until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add snap peas, garlic, and 1/4 cup water; sprinkle with salt. Sauté until vegetables are just tender and water evaporates, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 1 rounded tablespoon pistou. Transfer vegetables to platter; tent with foil to keep warm. Reserve skillet (do not clean).
3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in reserved skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Place salmon, skin side down, in skillet; cook until skin is crisp, about 3 minutes. Turn salmon and cook until almost opaque in center, about 3 minutes longer. Arrange salmon fillets over vegetables on platter. Spoon some pistou down center of each fillet and serve, passing remaining pistou alongside.
Makes 4 servings.
Trout reminds me of fishing with Scott and Angelica in Montana. Even though I only managed to catch one trout in the many times we went camping and fishing, I always looked forward to enjoying fresh caught fish with my family. After gutting and scaling, we often drizzled a little cornmeal (if we had it) and fried it in a cast iron pot over the fire.
Despite the rain, I walked over to the Chelsea Market yesterday. The fish market had some fresh and beautifully prepared butterflied trout, which reminded me of all those good times by the lake. I had to have some.
I prepared the trout using my own adaptation of a Trout Grenobloise recipe from epicurious. Trout Grenobloise sounds fancy, but it’s a simple recipe, traditional to the town of Grenoble in France. The fish is very simply prepared by pan frying it, what makes this recipe special is the lime tarragon sauce. The sauce, drizzled scantily gives the trout a wonderful bite – its the tartness of the lime alongside the sweet tarragon that makes this particular dish great. And better yet, because it’s so easy to prepare. I served it with mashed yukon gold potatoes and chives.
Trout with Lime Tarragon Sauce
3 trout, butterflied
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons butter (reserve 2 tablespoons for step 3)
Juice of 1 lime
A splash of white wine (optional)
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
1. Place flour in a shallow dish. Season butterflied trout lightly with salt and pepper. Pat both sides of the trout in flour, shaking gently to remove excess flour.
2. Heat a pat of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add trout to skillet, skin-side up. Cook until pale golden, about 3 minutes. Turn and continue cooking, 3 to 4 minutes more.
3. Remove trout to a warmed serving platter. Remove skillet from heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter, lime juice, and white wine. Brown the butter, stirring with a wooden spoon to release the brown bits in the bottom of the skillet. Add tarragon and stir for a few seconds until the leaves become bright green. Pour sauce over trout and serve.
Makes 3 to 6 servings.