This is a super-useful recipe on all kinds of counts:
- It looks impressive!
- Because of the pastry you don’t need to worry about cooking additional carbs… potatoes, rice etc…
- You can make it to pre-cooking stage the day before (cover with clingfilm), and you can leave out the ten minute freezer stage. You don’t need to worry about getting it to room temperature before you bake…. Cook straight from chilled.
- You can also (as long as your salmon fillets haven’t already been frozen) freeze it at its pre-baking stage.
- It warms up well – serve it initially for four, then warm it up for a couple of cooking-free evenings for just two – serve with mayo.
- It’s good cold too… maybe as part of a buffet… again, serve with mayo.
- It really tastes extremely good.
What’s not to like?!
Serve with a slurpy green salad made with old fashioned, floppy English lettuce.
Summery salmon en croûte with dill, watercress, and spinach
Serves – 8
- Olive oil and/or butter for frying
- 2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with a little textured salt
- 260g/9 oz leaf spinach
- 80g/ 3 oz watercress, with any large stems taken off and discarded. If it’s not the season for watercress (the season is April to October) try adding more spinach and a bit of extra pepper and mustard.
- 20g/1 oz/good handful dill
- Zest and juice of half a lemon
- 1 kg salmon fillets, an even number, more or less uniform-size, and, ideally, skinned
- 80 ml/⅓creamed horseradish
- 300 ml/1¼crème fraiche
- 500g all-butter puff pastry
- 3 tbsps Dijon mustard
- 1 egg, beaten
- Grinds of nutmeg and pepper
- Boil a full kettle. Put the spinach and watercress in a big colander, and put it in the sink. Pour over the just-boiled water, stirring and moving the spinach around as you do. Drain and squeeze well.
- Put the lot onto a big chopping board and chop. Snip over most of the dill. Put the lot into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the salted and crushed garlic, the zest and juice of half a lemon, and grind over the nutmeg and pepper.
- If you have not managed to get skinless fillets, get an oiled frying pan good and hot and fry briefly skin side down – you aren’t aiming to cook the fillets, just to get the skin crispy enough for you to easily take off the skin. Take off the heat and leave to cool until you can do this. Then do it!
- Preheat the oven to 210°
- Mix together the creamed horseradish and the crème fraiche.
- Roll out the pastry into a longish rectangle large enough so that half the salmon fillets can be laid side by side on the bottom half with a good border around to crimp together. You should have enough pastry over to make a few decorative leaves etc.
- Move the pastry so that the bottom half is on a baking tray lined with silicone paper.
- Brush the bottom half of the pastry with Dijon mustard.
- Lay half the salmon fillets on the bottom half of the pastry. Spread about five tablespoons of the horseradish- crème fraiche mix over them, and then top with the spinach mix. Spread another five tablespoons over the top of the salmon.
- Paint the pastry border around the bottom half with the beaten egg.
- Fold the top half of the pastry over the fish to enclose, and crimp together the pastry edges.
- Make three or four slits in the top to allow the steam to escape from the fish.
- Put the salmon en croute into the freezer (about ten minutes) while you roll out any remaining pastry and make leaves etc.
- Take the salmon out of the freezer, and paint the surface with the beaten egg. Position the leaves on artistically (they should stick on the beaten egg). Paint the leaves with the beaten egg.
- Bake for 25 minutes, checking after 20 minutes… if the pastry looks as if it might start to burn, cover with foil for the remaining five minutes.
- Snip the remaining dill into the remaining sauce and serve.