Salmon with Red Pepper Sauce on Salad

If you’re a longtime More Time reader, you’ll have seen more than your share of caprese salads on the blog. While I’m not as addicted as it might appear, I’ll admit I make several during the warm months and…they are definitely photogenic. I mean. Red. Green. White. The colors are made to go together and not just in the garden or at the table. For instance, how many countries boast flags in those colors? Ok, I checked. Here they are (scroll down a while!). You have to admit, though, that this is actually a salmon salad; it just happens to be nestled into asparagus, greens, and yes, ok … caprese around the edges.

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Each of the last few summers, I’ve found some fun reason to make writer-cooking teacher Susan Herrmann Loomis’ Red Pepper Sauce from her beautiful 2019 book, FRENCH GRILL. (Scroll down for links. Make sure to check out Susan’s fine cooking classes.) While it takes a little bit of time due to the crispy grilling of the peppers, it’s a simple process and can be done on an indoor or outdoor grill, as well as under a broiler or even in the oven. The recipe makes a good batch, which is perfect as it’s a verso;e and addictive thing to have in the refrigerator any time of year. Lather extra sauce on grilled lamb chops or crispy baguette slices; spoon it into omelets or rice; scoop it up for a veggie dip — it’s your choice. This time, I had some salmon calling my name from the freezer as well as a few ruby red ripe tomatoes, a big bunch of bell peppers, and a pound-size log of fresh mozzarella. My basil is high-high right now and while I began the day not knowing exactly what was for dinner, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed there would be salmon, the pepper sauce, and some sort of caprese. How it would all come together, I didn’t know. In fact, I winged it right to the end, but we had no complaints. Nor will you when you try this:

Grilling the red peppers for the sauce on the gas grill outdoors.

Salmon with Red Pepper Sauce on Salad

This salmon, which features Susan Herrmann Loomis’ Red Pepper Sauce+, isn’t difficult to make, but the sauce does take some time as you must first grill the peppers until blackened. Make the sauce a day ahead if necessary or if you’re really short of time, use jarred roasted peppers. A lovely recipe featuring high summer’s bounty of ripe tomatoes and peppers, you’ll need little else but some crusty bread for a happy al fresco meal. Doubles or triples easily. (You'll have extra red pepper sauce, which is great as a dip, on an omelet, etc.)
Serves 2

Ingredients

Red Pepper Sauce+ (recipe below)

    Salad:

    • 2 cups fresh greens
    • ½ pound sautéed or grilled chopped asparagus or green beans
    • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
    • ½ pound fresh mozzarella log sliced in coins and sliced in half again
    • 4 small ripe tomatoes-sliced
    • 10 large fresh basil leaves-torn in half
    • Lemon vinaigrette-recipe below

    Salmon:

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 salmon fillets
    • Salt and pepper
    • Sliced scallions for garnish

    Instructions

    Make the red pepper sauce (recipe below) and set aside.

      Arrange the salad:

      • Scatter the greens evenly over a large round or rectangular platter. Place the asparagus or green beans at the center of the platter. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Layer the mozzarella slices, tomatoes, and basil around the perimeter of the platter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle all lightly with the lemon vinaigrette. (Serve rest of vinaigrette at the table.) Set aside — do not refrigerate — while you cook the salmon.

      Cook the Salmon:

      • Heat a large cast iron or heavy skillet(s) over medium heat; add oil and heat until quite hot. Lay the salmon fillets skin side down carefully and season well with salt and pepper. Let cook 4-5 minutes or until quite browned; turn, season again, and let cook another 3 or 4 minutes or salmon is cooked to your liking. (FDA temperature is 145 degrees F for safely-cooked salmon. I like it at medium – 125 degrees F.) You could also grill the salmon.

      Arrange the salmon on the salad, add sauce, and serve:

      • Carefully add the two cooked salmon fillets to the center of the platter on top of the asparagus or green beans. Top each with about 1/3 cup of the red pepper sauce. Garnish with sliced scallions. Serve immediately. Pass remaining Lemon Vinaigrette at the table.

      Notes

      Red Pepper Sauce:
      -Bring 3 cups of water (750 m [3 ¼ cups] to boil in the bottom half of a steamer. Place the garlic in the steamer, cover, and steam until the garlic is completely soft, which will take 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat. When the cloves are cool enough to handle, remove the skin. (See Cook’s Note.)
      -Purée the peppers and the garlic in a food processor, then transfer the purée to a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring it to a simmer over low heat. Cook just until all of the pepper liquid has evaporated and the sauce has thickened, 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and piment d’Espelette. (Start with ¼ teaspoon each and add more as needed.) Set aside until needed. The sauce will keep for several days in the refrigerator and for up to three months in the freezer. (courtesy Susan Herrmann Loomis, from her book FRENCH GRILL, https://dancingtomatoes.com)
      Lemon Vinaigrette:
      To a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and season it with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and a drop of Tabasco sauce. Let it rest 5 minutes. Whisk in a teaspoon of whole grain mustard. Slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, whisking all the time, until well-mixed. Set aside at room temperature until needed.
      COOK’S NOTE:  To steam the garlic for the red pepper sauce, I put the unpeeled garlic cloves in a small hand held mesh sieve and sat the sieve over a small pot of simmering water. Put the pot’s cover over the sieve if you can or cover with a thick piece of foil.
      Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2021. All rights reserved.

      +Red Pepper Sauce courtesy Susan Herrmann Loomis’ lovely book FRENCH GRILL. Check out Susan’s classes and recipes at dancing tomatoes.com

      Grilling the peppers on an indoor, stovetop grill.

      TIPS:

      CHANGE IT UP/THINGS TO READ/WATCH

      • WINE: While peppers often feel vegetal, roasted red peppers just don’t seem that way to me. It’s summer, so break out a crisp and chilly rosé. Really want red? Go with a lighter red from a warm weather climate — a red Rhône or a Rioja. Maybe even a California Sangiovese.
      • Want to grill your salmon fillets? Read up here.
      • Swap in goat’s cheese for the fresh mozzarella and/or cucumber or zucchini slices for the tomatoes.
      • Use any vinaigrette of which you’re fond in place of the lemon vinaigrette.
      • Chicken breasts or thighs or pork chops would be fine instead of salmon, as would tuna fillets.
      • For a vegetarian option, skip the fish and spread the red pepper sauce on grilled baguette slices.
      • For a vegan option, skip the fish, spread the red pepper sauce on grilled baguette slices, and swap in vegan cheese or cucumbers or zucchini for the mozzarella.
      • Salmon Fillets 101 — YouTube (How to cook salmon fillets in 3 different kinds of pans and under the broiler. This guy is entertaining!)
      • “Song of the Salmon” YouTube

      REDUCING FOOD/OTHER WASTE WITH THIS RECIPE:

      • Leftovers from this recipe would naturally be edible, but the dish is best fresh as sliced tomatoes don’t hold well. This means it’s not a good candidate for a make-ahead meal, though you could surely do the red pepper sauce and asparagus or green beans the day before.
      • If you’ve made extra salmon (and you could!), make for lunch the next day a salmon salad similar to tuna salad and scoop it in the middle of a quartered, salted and peppered tomato or into a halved sweet bell pepper. Or make my Lentil + Salmon Salad–see below.
      • Still have salmon? Make my Salmon-Cheese Spread — fun for a no-cook summer meal. Make my Salmon Chowder–photo above.
      • You’ll have more red pepper sauce than you need and it’s perfect for dips; spreads; topping an omelet; making a chicken sub; or even for pizza. Eat every bit of it with a smile on your face!
      • Have no garden and buying basil? Don’t put it in the refrigerator. Store on the counter. May darken if cut instead of torn. The Best Way to Keep Basil Fresh/KITCHN . Don’t know what to do with extra? Tear it up into your green salad; use it like greens on a sandwich; add it to scrambled eggs; make pesto.

      We’ve been to Alaska a couple of times…here’s Dave at Salmon Creek in Juneau, July 2016. The salmon jumping in the water were stunning!!


      IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE MY: Lentil and Salmon Salad, Lamb Chops with Red Pepper Sauce… or Salmon + Fresh Tomato Salsa on Garlicky Cauliflower Mash.


      Each year for many years, I have volunteer marigolds growing in this stump. At first they were bright yellow pom poms, but over time have morphed into this luscious orange and gold.

      LIFE GOES ON:

      We made a whirlwind 4-day trip to Minnesota last weekend to celebrate my great-niece Olivia’s high school graduation and 18th birthday. Above: her Nana (my sister Helen) enjoying the beautiful display of moments and photos Olivia’s parents arranged for the party. There’s nothing like family. Go, Olivia! (see below)

      Celebrate whatever you can!

      Alyce

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