Salmon is one of the many foods I hated as a kid. In fact, I really didn’t care for it at all up until about a year ago. I guess the old tastebuds are a-changin’ because now I love it. I eat it every week!
I actually did some quick research on “changing tastebuds” just to be certain that there was some validity to the notion that our tastes change from childhood to adulthood. First, I learned that everyone is born with a different number of tastebuds, ranging anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000. The more tastebuds you have the more sensitive your are to flavors. However, as we age, our tastebuds tend to dull and diminish in number. Hence, our ability to enjoy things we perhaps were grossed out by as a kid. (Not to mention that our palettes generally grow and mature as we grow and mature.)
For this dish, I pan-seared some salmon and served it over a bed of sautéed spinach, mushrooms, and leeks. If you are not familiar with leeks, they’re a member of the onion and garlic family. You can use them in place of yellow onions in recipes and I really enjoy their mild flavor, which I usually sweeten with a little white wine when sautéing them. I LOVE to cook with them. And you will LOVE this guilt-free meal!
Pan-Seared Salmon with Sautéed Spinach, Mushrooms, and Leeks
- 1 lb. filet of salmon
- 4 c. raw spinach
- 2 leeks
- 8 to 12 oz. mushrooms (any kind you like)
- 3-4 sprigs of thyme
- 1/2 c. white wine, divided
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- olive oil (for sautéing)
1. Break down the leeks in order to cook them. Only the white and light green parts of a leek are edible. Therefore, cut the leek just below the dark green of the leaves. Slice the leek in half (vertically) and then chop each half of the leek into thin slivers, discarding the root of the leek.
2. Fill a large bowl at least halfway with cold water. Add the chopped leeks to a colander and place the colander into the bowl of water. Stir the leeks around a bit and allow them to sit for at least 5 minutes. This will rinse the leeks and help remove any dirt from them.
3. While the leeks are resting and rinsing in the bowl of water, clean and chop your mushrooms. If you bought sliced mushrooms from the grocery store, you are good to go and can skip this step!
4. Once at least 5 minutes have passed, removed the colander with the leeks from the bowl of water and allow them to drain for a few minutes while you continue your dinner prep.
5. Remove the skin from your salmon filet, if necessary. Season generously with salt and pepper.
6. Heat a medium sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add 3-4 Tbsp. of olive oil. Sauté the leeks until soft and opaque. Once most of the water evaporates from the leeks, add 1/4 c. of white wine and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl.
7. In the same sauté pan that you prepared the leeks, add another 3-4 Tbsp. of olive oil and sauté your mushrooms until golden brown. When the mushrooms are almost done cooking, add 1/4 c. of white wine and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside in the bowl with the leeks.
8. Just before the mushrooms are finished cooking, heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Add 3-4 Tbsp. of olive oil and once your pan is good and hot, add the salmon. After about 2 minutes, reduce the heat to medium. While the first side is browning, season the other side with salt and pepper. After another minute or two, flip your salmon over. (It’s important to begin cooking the salmon in a very hot pan so that you get a nice sear on the fish. However, after the first two minutes or so you reduce the heat from high to medium and leave it on medium for the remainder of the cooking process, so as not to burn the fish.)
9. Once you have flipped the salmon over, add 2 Tbsp. of butter and the 3-4 sprigs of thyme. Be careful – thyme has a tendency to spit and sputter hot oil when you add it to the pan. Give it a few seconds to calm down a bit before approaching the pan. Tip the pan at an angle towards you, so that all of the oil and butter forms a small pool, and spoon this oil/butter mixture over the fish as it cooks. Do this once or twice during the span of the fish cooking. While not necessary, it makes your fish that much more delicious.
10. Removed the cooked salmon and allow it to rest for 3-4 minutes before cutting into it. While the fish is resting, in the medium sauté pan that you used for the mushrooms and leeks, add 2-3 Tbsp. of oil and cook the 4 c. of spinach over medium-low heat. Once the spinach is almost ready, season with salt and pepper and add the cooked mushrooms and leeks back into the pan with the spinach so that they can reheat.
11. Once the leek, mushroom, and spinach mixture is hot, spoon a bed of it onto each plate. Cut your salmon filet into two pieces and place each piece on top of the bed of the spinach. Serve immediately.