Saturday, February 2, 2008

Salmon, Orange and Fennel Salad

In an effort to move away from the starch-heavy, waistline-destroying comfort food one is (or at least, I am) tempted to shovel in nightly whilst curled up on the sofa, I constructed this. It is barely more effort than dumping a pack of stuffed pasta in boiling water then adding a splash of cream and lots of grated parmesan and black pepper once it is done, but is light-years away in health terms. The only cooking is poaching some salmon fillet (lightly smoked for preference), and if you feel up to it, toasting some almonds. A tiny bit of chopping and peeling whilst the fish cooks and you're done: a meal packed with vitamins and nutrients to brighten a miserable night.

One note: you're going to break up the salmon over the salad, and so one piece goes twice as far as it would if you were serving it whole, so reduce your shopping accordingly. Or poach twice as much as you need one night and have this again with even less effort the next day.

For two (or more as a starter):
  • 1 largish piece of lightly smoked salmon fillet
  • 1 large orange
  • 1/2 fennel bulb
  • 1 packet designer leaves, preferably lots of dark green ones
  • 4 tablespoons blanched almonds or 2 tablespoons flaked
  • 400ml milk (or enough to half cover your salmon in your poaching pan)
  • 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig fresh parsley/a teaspoon dried, grating black pepper (optional)

  • Place the fish in a pan and add enough milk to come half way up the fillet. Drop in the bay leaf, parsley and pepper, if using. Cover with a lid or foil and turn on a medium heat. Simmer until the fish is cooked through - since you're going to flake it anyway, you can poke around the middle to make sure it's done without worrying about mangling it and ruining the presentation. It should take only about 5 minutes, even starting from fridge cold. Whilst the fish is poaching, arrange the leaves on two plates. Slice the bottom off the fennel then cut very thin slices, chopping in half if they are bigger than bite size. Peel the orange with a knife, removing all the pith, then slice into fairly thick rounds. Do this in a bowl to catch the juice. Sprinkle the fennel over the leaves, then add the orange slices. Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan until they are turning golden on both sides (can be left raw if toasting seems like too much hassle or washing up). Remove from the pan and set aside. When the fish is cooked, break it up over the salads, scatter over the almonds then pour over the orange juice reserved from slicing. Serve whilst the fish is still warm.