Salmon fishing on the West Coast will be drastically reduced soon, so I made some tonight as sort of a “last hurrah,” since I won’t be buying it much if it goes significantly up in price. As a nod to lighter fare I cut a side into smaller fillets and then baked them en papillote — in parchment paper. You can, too. Cut folded parchment sheets into hearts which, when opened, exceed the area of the salmon – which should be placed flat on one side of the heart – by about two inches. Be sure to salt and pepper the fish first, and then add to the top some fresh herbs or a slice of orange. Whatever you like. Then fold the salmon-less side of your parchment heart over the top of the salmon and start sealing the packet, tucking the two layers of parchment under, beginning at the top. When you reach the point at the bottom of the heart you need to do a “tuck under” with your last “fold ‘n crimp.” Bake them on a sheet pan at a preheated 350 F. for no more than 15 minutes or so for 5-ounce fillets. It depends on your oven, but if you dry them out you’ll be really sorry. Make an x-shaped cut in the parchment with a sharp paring knife without getting a steam burn and serve in the paper with sides.
The really fabulous thing about this meal was my famous tomato-feta salad – always a hit here. This is so easy to make, but relies on one expensive ingredient: hazelnut, almond or walnut oil. In my opinion you should have one of these on hand at all times to add a little special zip now and again. A few rich ingredients like this allow you to pull off some classy last-minute meals. Costco sometimes sells these oils in trio packs for about $17, and you can keep them for about two years. I don’t care what anyone says, when I store mine in the back of the fridge I have seen no rancidity for 24 months; my fridge is at a steady 37 F. What you need to have on hand is: good tomatoes cut into eights. Feta cheese – the real thing – in small cubes. Use about 1/3 of the volume of your tomatoes. Orange juice. Lemon juice. Onion powder. Sliced red onion – as much as you like, but not too much. Whole Calamata olives, which you can buy without pits in a jar, if you don’t want to deal with pits. Use the same volume of olives as you do cheese. If you buy a huge jar at Costco (where else?) it’ll keep for ages. One of the oils I mention above. Salt and pepper. Make a vinaigrette out of the oil and orange juice by simply whisking them together, using proportions you like but heavier on the oil, something like 1/2 cup oil for every 1/4 cup OJ. Add a splash of lemon juice and a shake of onion powder. Whisk again. Salt and pepper to taste. Whisk. Correct seasoning and oil/acid ratio. Whisk – whisk – whisk. Set aside. Mix the rest of the stuff gently in a large bowl. Add as much dressing as you like, reserving the rest for future use. Toss gently and allow to sit at room temperature for a half hour before serving, but pop in the fridge if it’ll be longer. You will not believe how good this salad tastes.
I also roasted some French string beans (yes, this is a no-no and you should only roast big, bad string beans, but I was dealing with leftovers and had to do something different).