This is a terrific recipe using spring vegetables. Plus, spring means my favorite salmon is available….Columbia River Salmon from the west coast.
In this recipe, simply prepared fresh salmon is served on a bed of blanched spring vegetables and homemade herb gnocchi (Italian dumplings). A simple orange buerre blanc sauce finishes the dish. If you don’t have time to make homemade gnocchi, many grocery stores now carry them. The gnocchi can be made ahead and frozen. So if you do want to try your hand at homemade gnocchi, make them up, freeze them, and cook them off in the frozen state!
I like to use fresh Door County asparagus, baby yellow and orange carrots, shiitake mushrooms, pea pods and baby spinach for the vegetables. For a “heart healthy” version, simply omit the beurre blanc sauce.
- 6 pieces of fresh salmon
- approximately 6 ounces each, skin removed
- olive oil for sauteing
- mild white wine for final cooking of salmon (a sauvignon blanc works well)
For the gnocchi
- 2 pounds baking potatoes, about 3 large
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 egg
- approximately 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Orange Beurre Blanc Sauce
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup orange juice
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- a pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and refrigerated
- 18 spears of fresh asparagus, blanched
- 12 baby carrots, peeled and blanched
- 1 cup fresh pea pods
- 12 shiitake mushrooms
- 1/2 pound baby spinach
To blanch the asparagus and baby carrots, place them separately in simmering water. Asparagus will take about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes to blanch, carrots about 3 to 5 minutes (depending on size). After blanching, remove and place in a bowl. Put ice on top to quick cool them. After 10 minutes, remove vegetables and refrigerate until ready to use.
To prepare the gnocchi
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Scrub the potatoes under cold water. Dry them well then place on a baking sheet. Place in the center of the oven and
bake for about 1 hour, or until fork tender. Remove and let cool for 10 minutes. Cut in half and scoop out the insides. While still hot, press them through
a potato ricer or food mill.
Place the potatoes in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Season with salt and pepper, dill and Italian parsley. Add the yolks and egg in the center of the well.
Using a wooden spoon, gently mix. Add the flour, a little at a time, and with your hands, lightly stir the mixture until it just forms a ball. You may not need
all of the flour. A little should be reserved for forming the gnocchi.
Place the dough on a lightly floured area. Gently knead the dough for a few turns. If too sticky, knead in a little flour as needed. The dough should be very
soft and tender. Do not overmix or the gnocchi will not be tender.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll out the dough into ropes. Using a knife or a dough scraper, cut the rope into pieces just under 1 inch long. Pinch the
pieces gently in the middle to create a puffed pillow shape. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet lightly dusted with flour.
Refrigerate the gnocchi while you get a large saucepot of lightly salted water to a simmer. Place the gnocchi (about 1/3 at a time) into the simmering water.
When the gnocchi start to float, they are done. Use a strainer to remove the gnocchi. Let cool and toss in a little olive oi (so they don’t stick together).
Repeat with remaining gnocchi. Refrigerate until ready to serve. You may have a few extra gnocchi. They will keep refrigerated for several days.
To make the orange beurre blanc sauce
On a very low heat, slowly whisk the butter in, a littlle at a time. It is important that the butter be cold and be in small cubes. The sauce
will thicken as you whisk in the butter. When all the butter in incorporated, strain to remove the shallots. You can use the sauce immediately,
or, place it in a thermos. It will hold for several hours. (You can also make the initial reduction an hour ahead. When ready to finish the sauce,
rewarm and continue with the butter addition.)
To make the salmon and finish the dish
We cook the salmon in a combination searing and steaming method. This gives the salmon a nice “top” but retains moisture in the salmon
through the final steaming method. If you don’t want to steam with white wine, simply use a mild vegetable, chicken or fish stock.
Add just enough white wine to go up about 1/4 inch on the fish. Cover and let steam on medium heat until the salmon is cooked through.
The liquid will almost completely evaporate. This will take about 5 to 7 minutes depending on the size of the salmon. Heat a small amount of olive oil
in a wok style pan or saute pan. When hot, add gnocchi. Lightly brown the gnocchi then add the remaining vegetables (except the spinach). Saute until
cooked but still crisp. Add the spinach right at the end of cooking. Cover and cook on low for one minute (just enough time to steam the spinach).