Pine Nut-Crusted Salmon with Spinach Puree and Basil Coulis is from Chef Marc Dym of the Little River Inn, Mendocino CA
There are many good recipes for polenta and you may use your favorite. I have a recipe that I like to use. It can be found here: http://www.sippitysup.com/recipe/polenta-cakes/
- 1 bunch fresh basil (leaves only, roughly chopped)
- 1 cup canola oil (plus more for cooking salmon)
- salt and white pepper (as needed for seasoning)
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 (6 oz) bag baby spinach leaves
- 2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Lawry’s seasoned salt (to taste)
- 1 cup pine nuts
- 6 boneless, skinless salmon filets
- 6 warm Parmesan polenta cakes (see note)
To make the basil coulis: Place chopped basil in a food processor. Drizzle in canola oil in a slow, steady stream. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and reserve.
To make the spinach puree: Place the butter into a medium saucepan set over medium heat. As it begins to melt, start swirling the pan frequently and watching the butter carefully. You will notice the butter will crackle, pop and get foamy as the milk solids begin to brown. Once that starts, remove skillet from heat. Smell the butter; it should have a nutty aroma, and be caramel in color. Set aside.
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to boil. Add the spinach and blanch spinach till just wilted; about 1 minute. Drain well, squeezing the spinach to remove as much water as possible. Puree in food processor adding browned butter and sesame oil as the machine runs. Season to taste with seasoned salt.
Place spinach into a small saucepan and set aside until just before serving.
To make the salmon: Pulse pine nuts in food processor until ground to the texture of coarse sand. Season with salt and pepper. Spread a thin layer of the chopped nuts over one side of each salmon fillet. Press the nuts onto the surface with your hands so that they stick. Refrigerate until needed.
When ready to serve, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Meanwhile, heat a large cast iron pan over medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot, add small amount of canola oil to slick the surface. Cook salmon (nut-crusted side down) over medium high heat 2–3 minutes until nuts are light brown. Place the filets in a single layer with some space between them, do not crowd the pan; work in batches or use multiple pans if necessary. Once nicely browned, flip the fish and finish cooking in the heated oven 3–4 minutes for medium-rare (or to taste).
To serve: Gently heat the spinach puree on the stove. You may need to add a half teaspoon of water depending how far in advance you made the puree. Place a 2 tablespoon mound of warm spinach puree in the middle of plate. Lay a warm polenta cake and a cooked salmon filet over the spinach. Drizzle with basil coulis. Repeat with remaining spinach, polenta and fish. Serve immediately.