A sauce can make or break a dish — a component so important that it merits its own pan, culinary school certification and cookbooks. But in this 20-minute recipe, it’s a simple enterprise: a little butter, a little garlic, a judicious amount of half-and-half and fresh herbs.
Rosemary and thyme do double duty here, coating each bite-size helping of salmon so they provide texture and flavor, and then a last-minute toss of chopped parsley heightens all those herby aromas. The fish finishes cooking in the pan sauce, and before you know it, you’ve created something pretty special for a weeknight.
We liked serving with potatoes (keep reading), but you could add a few handfuls of fresh spinach while the sauce is bubbling instead. If you have leftovers, combine the chilled saucy salmon pieces with crunchy vegetables or cold pasta for a terrific lunch.
The keep-reading part: Want your small, yellow-fleshed potatoes to look and taste like the ones shown in the plated photo at the end of this post? They can be done in about the time it takes to make this dish. Scrub them, then place them in a medium saucepan and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Drain the water and drizzle the hot potatoes with a little extra-virgin olive oil; season lightly with salt, pepper and sweet paprika. Shake the pan to coat; cook over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, shaking the pan a few times. Cut the larger ones in half. That’s it.
Leaves from 2 big stems fresh rosemary
Leaves from 2 or 3 stems fresh thyme
1poundskin-on salmon fillets, preferably center-cut pieces and U.S. wild-caught
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Leaves from 2 stems fresh parsley
Half a lemon
Finely chop the rosemary and thyme leaves; together is okay. Spread them on a plate.
Mince the garlic. Cut the salmon into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Press the flesh sides of each one into the herbs to coat. (They won’t be completely covered.)
Melt the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once its foam begins to subside, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the herbed salmon pieces, skin sides down; cook for 2 to 3 minutes or just until the skin gets a little crisped and you can see the salmon turning from dark to lighter pink (and opaque).
The butter should be turning brown by now; pour in the half-and-half and stir it in to form a sauce. You can turn the pieces over now. Season the contents of the pan lightly with salt and pepper; cook for a minute or two, checking to see that all the salmon is cooked through, then remove from the heat. The sauce will be bubbling.
Coarsely chop the parsley leaves, then sprinkle them over the contents of the skillet.
Divide the salmon between plates. Spoon the sauce over the fish, then squeeze the juice of the lemon half over the fish and sauce. Serve warm.
Adapted from Nigel Slater’s “The 30-Minute Cook” (Penguin re-set edition, 2006).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Servings Per Container: 2; Calories: 520; Total Fat: 35 g; Saturated Fat: 15 g; Cholesterol: 185 mg; Sodium: 260 mg; Total Carbohydrates: 3 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 1 g; Protein: 47 g.