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Salmon with Mussel, Olive & Tomato Sauce

March 16, 2014

This dish started with a loaf of bread.

At the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning we decided to buy one of a number of beautiful, round loaves on display from a local baker, to go with the mussels we decided we were going to have for dinner that evening. But by the time we settled on this plan the baker in question was reduced down to his last three loaves, all of which were rye.

Rye BreadI love rye bread. I love slices of it surrounding a mound of shaved pastrami. I wouldn’t normally choose it as the bread to accompany most of my mussel recipes, though. The earthy, nutty flavour is a bit too powerful. So I had to choose a mussel recipe that would compliment this wonderful bread, which, as Teresa noted, had a particularly fermented flavour.

I remembered a salmon recipe I’ve made many times, a recipe I found in the very first issue of Food & Wine magazine I ever bought, in May 2008, the discovery of which immediately made the magazine one of my all-time favourite titles. You can find the original recipe for Salmon in Tomato-Olive Sauce online.

Here’s my variation. The mussels are an excellent addition. With them (and the rye bread) this meal is complete on its own. I chose my favourite California zinfandel to go with this (Painter Bridge), but wished I’d gone with a pinot noir instead.

Salmon in Mussel Sauce 1

Salmon with Mussel, Olive & Tomato Sauce

3-4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried oregano
1-2 dried bay leaves
a large salmon filet, about 1-1/2 lbs, skin on
salt and pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 lbs mussels, cleaned and rinsed
splash (2-3 tbsp) red wine
1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives
1/3 cup pickled, sliced peperoncini peppers (or jalapenos)
1/4 cup capers

Salmon1. Preheat oven to 375. In a dutch oven or large, deep sauté pan, warm 2-3 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion until soft and starting to brown, 4-5 minutes. At the same time, warm another oven-proof skillet (for the salmon) over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and place the salmon filet skin-side down. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the skin has crisped, 4-5 minutes, then place the skillet in the oven. The fish should take 10-12 minutes to finish, depending on thickness. The flesh will have a firmness to it when it’s done. You want to try not to overcook it.

mussel sauce2. With the fish in the oven, add the garlic, oregano and bay leaves to the onions. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Next add the red wine, cherry tomatoes and mussels. Cover and steam, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes, until the mussels all open, the flesh is firm and pulls away easily from the shell.

3. Once the mussels are cooked, add the olives, capers and peppers and stir to finish the sauce. Serve over the salmon.

TIP: Make sure you include some of the liquid on each plate for dipping the bread.

Salmon in Mussel Sauce 2

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