Less is More in This Salmon with Minty Pea Puree and Pan Roasted Carrot Medallions Recipe. But More is More When it Comes to Blenders. Here's Why.
Are you one of those people that treats less like a four letter word? I mean, I know it is technically a four letter word. But it shouldn't be in the category of the four letter words you shout when you accidentally slice your fingertip off with a mandoline. (Yep. I've done that. I'm missing part of my fingerprint now. What can ya do?)
One of my favorite quotes of all time is about how simplicity is instead a characterization of perfection. I'm pretty sure it could've been written about this dreamy date night salmon dinner.
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine St. Exupery
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Why I Love This Recipe
This delightfully simple dish came together with a total of 8 ingredients and was as toothsome and titillating as some of the fanciest, most expensive dishes I've had at well regarded restaurants. And y'all. There was nothing left to take away. It. Was. Perfection.
We felt special AF when we were mowing this down last night, and it certainly took the suck out of a long and tedious day for us both. Oh! And I should tell you that I only used one pan for the whole thing. Chalk another one up for the good guys!
So what were the ingredients, you ask? I'd bet you already have the majority waiting for you in your larder. Two pieces of frozen, skin on salmon from Costco. A bag of fresh English peas from Trader Joe's (but a bag of frozen totally would've worked, too). Half a yellow onion. Grass-fed butter. Cottage cheese. Fresh mint. Carrots. Pistachios. That's the whole shebang. And y'all. It tasted divine.
Butter basted, perfectly flaky salmon. Satisfyingly al dente, barely caramelized sweet carrots. Creamy smooth minty pea puree. Crunchy, salty pistachios. I swear. I could almost see a little ray shining down from the cooking heavens and hear the angels sing.
What surprised me the most was how wonderfully my humble cottage cheese rose to the occasion. I originally intended on using some ricotta in my pea puree, but realized too late in the evening that I was sadly out. Cottage cheese was how my Mom used to make lasagne since ricotta wasn't super easy to find in the 80s. Surely it could work here, too? My reasoning stood up to the test.
The case for a fancy a$$ blender.
The real kitchen hero here was undoubtably my beloved Vitamix blender, which turned my simply sauteed onions, cottage cheese and barely simmered peas into a frothy, pillowy, sumptuous canvas for the rest of the dish. I have to be honest here. I never believed a piece of kitchen equipment could be as powerful as my Vitamix ended up being. Before the days of my Vitamix, I was perfectly happy with my Ninja blender. Ninjas can turn ice into snow! And they're wonderfully affordable! If you're not quite ready for a several hundred dollar blender (no shame there, my friends!), Ninja is a star.
But when Joe and I got married and we were putting together our registry, we figured, "What the heck? Let's see if the hype is true!" It is. It is totally true. I have zero affiliation with Vitamix as I'm writing this. Only pure, unadulterated affection. I mean, you can literally make hot chocolate from refrigerated milk and chocolate chips, y'all. It is so dang powerful that it can heat things up with its powerful engine! When we first got it, I was using it every single day, just for the novelty. Now I use it several times a week, at least.
I'm not saying that your puree won't be absolutely divine without one. I'm just letting you know that the consistency might be a *little* less perfect without one. But no worries! Just blend the eff out of it for a few extra minutes to try and get some of that air worked in and get the perfectly emulsified sauce you're looking for.
The technique: Baste for the best.
The salmon and carrot elements were the simplest you can imagine. I only used butter, salt and pepper on both. I wanted to really emphasize their true flavors, so this elemental approach seemed best. Now here's the thing I learned from restaurant work that you all need to know. The trick with the salmon is basting it with that beautiful butter. It is not difficult at all. Just melt the butter over medium heat, put the salmon in skin side down and leave it be. I mean it. Don't fuss with trying to move it around, or you'll risk the skin sticking to the pan and tearing your lovely fillet.
Now, tilt the pan towards yourself and let the butter pool together. Grab a spoon, like what you would use for eating a big bowl of twirly pasta, and scoop up that barely browning, nutty elixer. Now bathe your fish with it. Repeat a few times over the next few minutes, before putting the entire pan under the broiler to finish. I'm serious. This will change your fish-cooking life. You'll look like a pro. People will ask you for the recipe, and you'll shrug and say "it's just butter, salt and pepper" because it's literally just butter, salt and pepper.
If you really want to impress someone special with some stellar cooking, this salmon dinner really is the bee's knees. And while you're at it, make this 10 minute Upside Down Cake or this 5-Minute Lemon Blueberry Trifle for dessert. Between dinner and dessert, I'm pretty sure you'll be getting lucky tonight. And you didn't even have to break a sweat to get there!
So what are you waiting for? Get after this super simple but oh-so-satisfyingly fancy feeling salmon recipe tonight. All it takes is one pan, a blender, about 25 minutes and some easy to find ingredients. You're about to be the star of your kitchen. Promise.
Salmon with Minty Pea Puree and Pan Roasted Carrot Medallions
- 4 4oz Salmon Fillets
- 10 oz Fresh English Peas alternatively, use frozen peas
- ½ medium Yellow Onion diced fine
- 1 C Cottage Cheese full fat
- ½ C Fresh Mint Leaves
- ½-1 C Chicken Stock, Veggetable Stock or Water
- 4 large Carrots sliced into medallions
- 6 oz Butter divided
- ¼ C Roasted Salted Pistachios chopped
- Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
- Melt 3 Tblsp (a quarter of total) butter in sautee pan over medium heat. Add onions and sautee until beginning to soften. Add peas, then stock/water. Bring to simmer, then simmer peas for about 90 seconds.Add peas, onions, and liquid to blender with cottage cheese. Blend until light and creamy, adding more liquid if needed. Finally, add mint and process again. Taste for seasoning.
- Melt 3 Tblsp butter (a quarter of total) in same sautee pan. Add carrots, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until al dente and slightly golden. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Turn broiler on high to preheat. Melt 6 Tblsp butter (half of total) in same sautee pan. Place salmon skin side down in pan. Season with salt and pepper. When butter is bubbling, baste salmon with it. Repeat every couple of minutes until bottom half of salmon fillet looks cooked from the side. Place sautee pan under the broiler and complete cooking the fish, 4-6 minutes depending on thickness.
- To plate, evenly divide pea puree between pasta bowls. Top with a piece of salmon, then evenly divide carrots between plates. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and garnish with a mint sprig. Voila! Dinner is served!