Suddenly, it’s summer. Do I sound surprised? Truly it has been years since I have felt summer bearing down on my bare shoulders before it actually arrived on the calendar. But here I am, sleeveless, drinking iced tea, watching my ice cream melt as fast as I can eat it and planning backyard barbecues before the middle of June. Can’t you just hear the smile in my voice!
To me, summer means easing back. It means sipping tea in the shade and planning easy menus around whatever beautiful thing you happen to find at the market, whether its fresh picked corn, crisp green beans, fragrant peaches or a perfectly ripe watermelon. Sometimes that one thing may be so perfect it IS the menu. Other times you may find so much lovely freshness you can’t decide and dinner becomes a feast, all the better for inviting in the neighbors you catch sight of over the fence or for looking forward to tomorrow’s leftovers….when you won’t even need to turn on the oven or grill.
Salmon is probably my favorite entrée. It goes great with a variety of bright summer fruits and vegetables and, once cooked, its light fresh color provides a nice visual relief to the luscious ripe beauty of summer sides.
Salmon is also easy. It tastes wonderful unadorned. The creative addition of a few seasonings isn’t even necessary, though it can take the experience up a notch and add to the presentation. Choose from a light sprinkle of salt, a few grinds of black pepper, a little drizzle of melted butter or olive oil, a seasoning rub, a few snipped herbs, whatever you have in the garden: dill, basil, rosemary, parsley, chives, thyme. Slice a lemon or lime thinly or squeeze on a little of its juice. Choose one of the above, or several. Sprinkle or scatter across the fish with enthusiasm.
One or more salmon or steelhead fillets, approximately ½- 1 inch thick in the center.
Your choice of salt, pepper, fresh snipped herbs, thinly sliced citrus, minced onion, drizzle of oil or butter, if desired.
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange fish fillet(s), skin-side down, on the aluminum foil.
3. If you like, sprinkle fish with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. (Be careful not to oversalt before baking. More salt can be added after baking, to taste.) Drizzle with a little olive oil or melted butter and scatter a few thin slices of citrus fruit, a few bits of minced onion or some snipped, dill, chives or other fresh herbs, if desired. Remember that this step is optional.
4. Place fish in preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily when pierced with a fork and/or appears opaque throughout.
This is my husband’s go-to dish for entertaining, indoors or out. As such, here are a few comments from the Grill-master:
- Look for salmon fillets with large sections between the veins of fat.
- For the most uniform cooking it is best to choose a center cut that is the same thickness on both ends. On the other hand, I love it when the edges of the fillet are thinner. Those edges tend to crisp in the baking process and add a contrast of texture to the soft smooth center.
- Your fillet of fish will come with skin on one side. Don’t worry about the skin. Simply lay the fillet, skin side down, on foil if you like, for easy cleanup. When the fish has cooked through it will (cooperatively) slide away from it’s skin most often leaving the skin stuck to the foil as it releases it’s tasty flesh.
- Same on the grill – Place the fish on a piece of foil. Dress as desired. Slide the foil onto the grill rack and cook on a hot grill, lid down, for 16 minutes, checking occasionally. Do not turn.