Salmon with Fig and Walnut Salsa Verde
When it comes to entertaining, I have my ground rules. First up is to always have a bottle of bubbly in the fridge. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but having a celebratory drink on hand always feels like an instant party. Second, and nearly as important, is to have everything pretty much done before guests arrive. It’s largely for my own benefit. I want to feel relaxed at my own party. And let’s be honest, I want to indulge in that bubbly while chatting with friends rather than sweating over the stove. I happen to think a relaxed host makes for more relaxed company.
All of this bring me to today’s recipe for Salmon with Fig and Walnut Salsa.
The recipe comes to me by way of Joan Weir, who is a famously fabulous hostess, entertaining folks the world over on her food tours, not to mention her tv shows. She served this salmon at a dinner I attended recently and I was smitten on the spot. You start by wrapping salmon fillets in fig leaves and baking them in the oven. The leaves make an excellent environment in which to cook salmon while perfuming the filets with the pleasant aroma of the leaves.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “where on earth am I going to get fig leaves?” Well, you could come to California, hop someone’s fence, and harvest what you need before anyone notices. Or, more realistic and less likely to get you in trouble is to substitute large Swiss chard leaves.
Once wrapped, those salmon filets bake in the oven for 10 minutes and are ready to serve. On the side goes a salsa verde made with dried figs and walnuts that is so good, I’d happily eat it on almost anything. You can prep the salsa and season and wrap the salmon ahead of time so all that’s required when guests arrive is to pop the fish in the oven for a reliable 10 minutes. After that, the only thing called for is to pour some bubbly and enjoy the company you keep.
Salmon in Fig Leaves with Dried Fig Walnut Salsa Verde
A dramatic presentation and delicious dish featuring a sweet/savory fig salsa that pairs perfectly with perfectly cooked, tender salmon
- 1 3/4 pounds salmon filets
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 fresh fig leaves (or large Swiss chard leaves), washed well, stems removed
- 1/2 cup diced California figs
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 medium minced shallot
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.
For the salsa verde: In a bowl, stir together the dried figs, walnuts, parsley, rosemary, shallots, sherry vinegar, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cut the salmon into 12 equal 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces. Place a fig leaf on the work surface with the smooth side down, vein side up. Brush well with olive oil. Place the salmon near the stem end. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the outer side edges toward the center. Fold the remaining leaf over the salmon to enclose it completely.
Brush the bundles lightly with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet. Place the salmon in the oven and cook until it registers 135 degrees F when checked with an instant-read thermometer.
To serve, partially open the packets and place a dollop of the salsa verde on the salmon. Serve immediately.
Recipe lightly adapted and used with permission by Chef Joanne Weir and Valley Fig Growers