Breakout indie food mag Cherry Bombe has a phenomenal new cookbook out that spotlights some of the most interesting women in the food industry. Learn their favorite recipes (and the stories behind them) in this vibrant collection. Melissa Clark’s salmon salad with fennel is one of their top picks.
At Cherry Bombe HQ, we call Melissa Clark the “Queen of Cookbooks.” A New York Times columnist, she’s coauthored dozens of books with some of the biggest names in the world of food and still delights in creating and testing recipes. Here, in this salad she developed, fennel plays a major role, as the licorice-flavored bulbs are sliced thin and mixed throughout and the fronds are blended into a green pesto that gets tossed with the tiny potatoes and slathered on the salmon fillets. As most people just chop off the fennel fronds and throw them away, it’s a great way to rescue an ingredient from the compost pile.
- 2 small fennel bulbs with fronds, halved lengthwise
- 1/2 cup Fresh Basil leaves, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 6 anchovies, chopped
- Zest and juice of 2 large lemons
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallot
- 1 1/2 pounds tiny new potatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas
- 4 (6-ounce) skin-on center-cut wild salmon fillets, pin bones removed
- freshly ground black pepper
- lemon wedges, for garnish
For the salad
Cut off the tops of the fennel and separate the stalks from the fronds. Discard the stalks and coarsely chop the fronds. Measure out ¾ cup of fronds and place in a blender. Save the remaining fronds for garnish. Add the basil, garlic, anchovies, lemon zest, 1½ teaspoons of the lemon juice, and the salt. With the motor running, drizzle in ¾ cup of the olive oil and blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Spoon ¼ cup of the fennel frond purée into a small bowl and scrape the rest into a large bowl. Stir the yogurt into the purée in the large bowl. Don’t worry if it appears slightly curdled, as it will emulsify when tossed with the potatoes. Stir the mustard into the purée in the smaller bowl.
Using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut the fennel bulbs into thin slices, the thinner, the better. Toss with the shallot slices, 1½ teaspoons of the lemon juice, a large pinch of salt, and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Let stand at room temperature until ready to use.
In a pot of generously salted water, boil the potatoes until just tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Add the peas for the last 2 minutes of cooking (or for the last 3 minutes if frozen). Drain and halve the potatoes when cool enough to handle. Toss the warm potatoes and peas with the yogurt–fennel frond dressing.
While the potatoes cook, preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place on the prepared baking sheet skin-side down. Slather the mustard–fennel frond mixture over the tops of the fillets. Bake until the fish is just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. You want to serve the fish warm, not hot.
Scatter the peas and the potatoes on a large platter, leaving room in between. Lift large chunks of salmon up from the pan, leaving the salmon skin stuck to the foil. Arrange amid the potatoes and decorate with the marinated fennel slices. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Scatter the reserved fronds over the top and serve with some lemon wedges.