Main Courses

Baked Salmon with Fennel Apple Relish

Fennel is one of those ingredients that I didn’t really come to appreciate until going to culinary school. It has a distinctive licorice taste that seems a little intimidating. What does it pair well with? Is it served hot or cold? What parts of that weird thing can you eat anyway? Which way do you slice it? So here friends, are The Facts on Fennel: Fennel is a bulb vegetable that is similar in texture to celery but is actually closely related to carrots, dill, and parsley. All parts of fennel, from the bulb to stalk to leaves, are edible. It’s found seasonally during the late Fall and early Spring. Fennel can be served raw or cooked, and is sliced whichever way you like it. Fennel is most commonly found in Italian and French cuisine, and provides a very unique taste to dishes.

Whew! I hope that was informative! So for this dish, I have chosen to use the lightness of fennel, apples, and leeks to give salmon a flavorful punch. Although salmon is “fishier” than some white fish, I think it takes on any flavor profile really nicely. I sauteed the relish to infuse the flavors together, but only briefly so the texture of the three crunchy elements stayed intact. The relish is made with lime juice, honey, and dijon mustard… all flavors that complement the fennel.  

Makes: 4 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes    Total Time: 25 minutes

4- 6 oz pieces of wild caught salmon (it’s the most sustainable from Alaska)
4 tbs spicy dijon mustard, divided
3 tbs lime juice
2 tbs honey
2 leeks, leaves peeled back and cleaned very well
1 large fennel bulb (reserve the little leaves on top)
2 Braeburn red apples (you can use almost anything except Red Delicious)

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place the salmon filets skin side down on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Lightly season with salt and pepper, 2 tbs of the dijon mustard. Use the back of a spoon to lightly glaze each filet.
  • Bake for 18 minutes or so, or until the salmon is lightly cooked through.
  • While the salmon is cooking, whisk together the remaining dijon mustard, lime juice, and honey in a medium sized bowl. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
  • Slice the apple and fennel is to 3/4 inch pieces. I don’t mind leaving the skin on the apples, but you can choose to remove it. Slice the leeks horizontally into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Combine the apples, fennel, and leeks with the dressing. Toss well so that everything is mixed together.
  • Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat with 1 tbs of olive oil.
  • When the pan is hot, add the relish mixture. Continue to stir until the relish begins to brown slightly. You don’t want anything to become mushy. Remove from the heat after 3-4 minutes.
  • When the salmon is finished cooking, remove from the oven. You should be able to easily remove the filet from the skin with a knife or flat spatula.
  • Serve each filet with 3-4 tbs of relish, some minced fennel leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil.

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