Salmon Baked with Fennel-Orange Butter with Spring Vegetables

        From the blog For Love of the Table

2 4- to 6-oz. portions skin-on salmon

2 to 3 T. fennel-orange butter

6 oz. asparagus, trimmed (3 oz. trimmed weight) and cut on a long diagonal

4 oz. crimini (or other favorite) mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick

1 T. olive oil

1/2 T. butter

1/2 c. thinly sliced spring onions (about 3), use equal amounts of the white and green

5 oz. stemmed spinach, rinsed in several changes of water and roughly chopped if leaves are large

1 1/2 to 2 T. chopped toasted and skinned hazelnuts


Preheat the oven to 425°F.   Place the salmon skinned side down on a small oiled, rimmed baking sheet.  Smear the top of each filet with 1/2 to 3/4 T. butter and season with salt & pepper.  Set aside.


Blanch the asparagus in a medium-sized sauce pan in boiling salted water until just tender—about 3 to 4 minutes.  Drain and spread the asparagus on paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.  Set aside the (now empty) saucepan used for blanching the asparagus. 


In a medium sauté pan set over moderately high heat, warm the olive oil.  Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned and tender—about 5 minutes.  Decrease the heat to medium and add a half tablespoon of butter to the pan.  Add the spring onions along with a pinch of salt and cook until tender—about 2 to 3 minutes. 


While the onions cook, place the salmon in the oven.


When the onions are tender, add the spinach to the pan (if there is no water clinging to the leaves from a recent washing, add a tablespoon or two of water to the pan with the spinach).  Cook, turning occasionally with tongs until the spinach is collapsed and tender.  If there is a lot of liquid left in the pan, increase the heat slightly until the excess liquid evaporates. Set aside and keep warm until the salmon is ready.


Check on the salmon—I like mine slightly under medium, so I start checking mine after about 8 minutes per inch of thickness of the fish.  I like to pull it when the white proteins have begun to become visible on the sides of the fish…or when an instant read thermometer reads about 115°F (or just under).


Remove the salmon from the oven.  Melt a tablespoon of the compound butter over moderate heat in the pan the asparagus was cooked in.  Add the asparagus and heat until sizzling.  Add the hazelnuts and toss. 


Divide the spinach-mushroom mixture between two plates.  Using a wide thin spatula, lift the salmon off of the baking sheet (the skin will have stuck and will remain on the baking sheet as you slide your spatula under the fish).  Place the fish on the bed of spinach.  Divide the asparagus and hazelnut mixture between the two plates, mounding it on top of the fish and allowing it to cascade naturally over the sides.  Serve immediately.


Serves 2...recipe is easily multiplied

Fennel-Orange Butter

Zest of half an orange (about 1 1/2 to 2 t.)

Juice of one orange (about 1/3 c. juice)

rounded 1/4 t. fennel seed, toasted and crushed/ground to a powder

a small squeeze of lemon juice (1/2 to 3/4 t), to taste

4 T. room temperature butter

Salt & pepper

Strain the orange juice into a small non­reactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and gently cook until reduced and very thick. Let cool to room temperature.

Place the reduced juice in a small bowl with the fennel, lemon juice and butter and cream together.  Season to with salt & pepper—adding more lemon juice if the butter seems flat tasting or too sweet. Set aside.