A one-pot salmon dinner with minty peas, orange and fennel

Salmon, rich in fat and flavour, gets a boost from oranges, fennel and red onions in this speedy one pan dinner by G Daniela Galarza

Wednesday 14 April 2021 12:00
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<p>One pot means one thing: less washing up</p>

One pot means one thing: less washing up

I

didn’t grow up celebrating a holiday that falls around the spring equinox, not Nowruz, not Passover, not Holi, nor Easter. But there’s no more hopeful season, no greater rush to get to the markets and see what the Earth has borne.

This season, I’m hungry for green. Enter: salmon roasted with minty peas, oranges and fennel.

Early in my culinary career, while I was still in college and working as a pantry cook at a restaurant in Upstate New York, I was tasked with making a salad of sliced oranges, shaved fennel and peppery red onions, dressed lightly with olive oil, orange juice and lots of black pepper. That flavour combination was entirely novel to me, and I fell in love with the bewitching play of taste and texture: the anise-y crunch of the fennel, sweet tenderness of the orange and mild heat and bite of the onion.

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It was surprising and refreshing and I have made it many, many times since, for clients when I worked as a private chef and, until the pandemic hit last year, guests I invited over for a meal. I’ve served it in the early winter and spring, for lunch and dinner. With lamb, all kinds of fish and chicken. Sometimes I supreme the oranges if I am feeling fancy; sometimes I quarter and sear the fennel in a pan to soften it instead of shaving it. I’ve added chickpeas and goat cheese coins, coriander croutons and green olive tapenade. I’ve served it with oil-packed tuna and pita, spring pea risotto, and caprese sandwiches on pillowy focaccia.

But until recently, I’d never roasted it.

One cool morning, I had a craving for those flavours, but wanted something warm, too. That’s how the idea for this dish was born. The oven’s heat sweetens the fennel and onion and caramelises the sugars in the oranges, adding another dimension to my all-star trio. With winter citrus on its way out and fennel just sprouting from the ground, it’s a dish I think of as easing us from one season into the next very, very gently.

Make this recipe tonight, or save it for this weekend. Easter might have been a smaller affair again this year for those of us still keeping our distance, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get into a spring-y mood.

Start by roasting sliced oranges, red onion and chopped fennel on a baking tray. Rest salmon fillets, seasoned with salt, pepper and orange zest, on top, and return the tray to the oven to cook the salmon (if you like your salmon well-done, roast the vegetables and fish together from the start). A few minutes before the fish is done, pour on a bag of frozen or fresh spring peas, and return the tray to the oven. A few minutes later, once the peas turn bright green, the dish is done. Sprinkle it with torn mint and serve.

For a vegetarian option, consider substituting thick slices of tofu for the salmon, adding a splash of soy sauce for a salty boost. Or roast the fennel, oranges and red onions and toss in a can of drained butter beans before adding the peas. Season with lots of extra orange zest, juice, olive oil, flaky salt and mint.

One-pan salmon with minty peas, oranges and fennel

Active time: 10 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes

Makes: 2 to 4 servings

Salmon, rich in fat and flavour, gets a boost from oranges, fennel and red onions in this speedy baking tray dinner. Fennel’s anise notes are muted here, but it lends its crunch next to sweet peas, which are warmed and dressed with mint. Feel free to substitute another tender fish, such as arctic char or cod, for the salmon.

Ingredients

1 large navel or blood orange

1 medium fennel bulb, sliced, fronds saved for garnish

1 small red onion, sliced

3tbsp olive oil, or more if needed

1tsp salt, divided

450g fresh salmon, skin on or off, cut into 2 to 4 fillets

½tsp freshly cracked black pepper

340g frozen peas, preferably petite

Handful of fresh mint leaves

Method

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 225C.

Cut the orange in half through its equator and, using a microplane or fine grater, zest one half. Set the zest and naked orange half aside. Slice the other orange half into thin rounds or half-moons.

On a large, rimmed baking tray, using your hands, gently toss the orange slices, fennel, red onion, olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Spread the vegetables evenly on the baking sheet and roast for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the oranges and onions start to caramelise. Remove from the oven and, using tongs, redistribute them so they can continue to cook evenly.

While the vegetables are roasting, rub the salmon with the orange zest, the remaining salt and the pepper. After the vegetables are cooked, lay the seasoned salmon in the centre of the pan atop the vegetables. Roast for an additional 8 minutes, or until the salmon is pale and the oranges, fennel and red onions have started to crisp.

Remove the pan from the oven and pour the frozen peas around the salmon, breaking up any large chunks of peas. Roast for another 4 or 5 minutes, or until the peas are warmed through. Remove from the oven, drizzle with more olive oil, if desired, squeeze the remaining orange half over everything, and tear the mint leaves and fennel fronds over the peas. Serve the salmon with the roasted vegetables and peas on the side.

Nutrition (based on 4 servings) | calories: 370; total fat: 18g; saturated fat: 3g; cholesterol: 62mg; sodium: 461mg; carbohydrates: 25g; dietary fibre: 8g; sugar: 11g; protein: 29g.

© The Washington Post

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