Baked salmon with spinach rice: summertime is “salmontime”

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There is no better time to eat salmon than during the summer, when this gorgeous fish is at its most flavorful. As it leaves the ocean and rides the streams of the Alaskan waters in search of good spots to spawn, the salmon makes an amazing journey, during which it reaches peak condition. Unsurprisingly, the demand for salmon increases in the summer. Packed full of protein and good fats, this nutritious fish can be used in a variety of healthy dishes, and it tastes great alongside vegetables.

Salmon was not available to me and to my family when I was growing up, and my first culinary encounter with this fish happened late, when I was in my twenties. I started off with  farm-raised salmon, which I found tasty, yet a bit too fatty for my liking. I watched a few TV documentaries and did some research which helped me to understand the difference between farm-raised salmon and wild salmon. Nowadays I try to buy wild salmon whenever I can, and I like to treat it gently, baking it in the oven and seasoning it with salt, pepper and dill – like in the recipe below.

Ingredients

1 whole salmon fillet (my salmon weighed 1.4lb)

1 cup medium grain rice

3oz fresh spinach, washed

1/2 cup julienne cut carrots

3 tbsp finely cut dill

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 cups warm water

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 lemon (for decoration)

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Preheat the oven to 325 F. Run the salmon through cold water and place it in aluminum foil (this method keeps the fish succulent and it makes it easy to clean up after cooking). Season the salmon with salt and pepper and sprinkle the dill on top.

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Seal the aluminum foil over the salmon. Place the fish on a baking tray and into the oven to cook for approximately 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a pan and add the rice and the carrots. Add 3 cups of warm water, bring to simmer, cover the pan with a lid, and let the rice and the carrots cook over a medium heat for approximately 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add the spinach and let it cook for another 10 minutes. You can also add more warm water if the rice has absorbed all the water.

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Add salt and pepper to taste. This is how the spinach rice looks like when it is fully cooked and ready to be plated:

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Take the salmon out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes, then cut it into portions. Put a cup of spinach rice on the plate and place the salmon on top of it.  With a tablespoon collect some of the natural juice of the salmon from the aluminum foil and use it as a sauce and for decoration. Garnish with lemon wedges.

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This is a healthy and satisfying dish which requires little preparation. The earthy flavors of the spinach and the carrots complement the sweet salmon meat, while the dill and the lemon juice bring a touch of assertiveness to this marriage of earth and water on a plate. I really like the straightforward beauty of this dish – and I hope you like it too.


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