Last night I cracked open my copy of Giada de Laurentiis' cookbook, New Italian Favorites, that had been on my shelf, untouched, for well over a year. I was looking for a new simple, healthy and tasty fish recipe and found quite a few to choose from. Since the local fish market had some good looking wild salmon I decided to try her recipe for salmon over a purée of peas, fresh mint and parmesan. Giada recommends creating a broth of lemon, shallot and chicken broth to go along with the fish and the peas but I decided to forgo it as it seemed like extra work for not much added flavor. She also serves her purée at room temperature which I tried and was not thrilled with so I decided to serve it heated. I have made a similar pea purée in the past that I have served as a dip or spread on crostini. This version with parmesan is absolutely delicious and would also be an excellent accompaniment to grilled white fish, chicken or even tossed with pasta. It is a very satisfying side dish that is a great alternative to a starch.
Salmon with Pea Purée
For the Purée
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup fresh mint
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
For the Salmon:
4 (4-6oz.) salmon fillets
1 tablespoon lemon zest
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
First make the purée by combining the peas, mint, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. With the machine running, add the olive oil to the mixture in a steady drizzle through the opening on top. Once combined, mix in the parmesan. Warm the purée in a sauce pan over medium low heat while the salmon is cooking. Do not over cook or you will lose the freshness of the mint.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat the salmon fillets lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the lemon zest. Heat a large oven proof skillet coated lightly with olive oil on the stove top over high heat. Sear the salmon for about 2-3 minutes flesh side down. Once they are browned and can be flipped easily (if you turn them too soon the flesh will stick to the pan), flip them to skin side down and put in the oven for about 5 minutes or until they are just cooked through.
Divide the purée equally between four plates and top with a salmon fillet. Serve with lemon wedges.
Serves 4. If making for just two people I recommend decreasing the amount of salmon but making the same amount of the pea mixture. It won't go to waste!
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis' recipe from her book New Italian Favorites.