After dining at il piatto, an Italian restaurant in Santa Fe, I was determined to recreate their salmon piccata dish at home. With its rustic farmhouse style and simple ingredients, it’s one of those dishes that makes sense, and yet the combination — zucchini, leeks, capers and mushrooms — all the elements of country Italian dining, but paired with salmon, threw me. The tastes were earthy and unexpectedly succulent. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. The ingredients came together in a satisfying new way, presenting the marriage of zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes and capers to add brightness, with this luscious fish, which is why I’m featuring the recipe here for February, the month of love.
Serve over smashed or mashed potatoes, or angel hair pasta.
2 – 8 oz center cut salmon fillets with skin, rinsed and patted dry
10 small white or cremini mushrooms, rinsed, patted dry, ends trimmed and sliced
1 small leek, rinsed, halved and thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced thinly
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T drained capers
2 T plus 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
3 T unsalted butter, divided
fine sea salt and pepper to taste
Crispy Salmon Piccata Recipe
For Vegetables and Sauce:
Sauté zucchini and mushrooms in 2 T olive oil until slightly browned
Melt 1 T butter into skillet. Add leeks and continuing browning, stirring occasionally.
Add wine and broth. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and add tomatoes, capers and lemon juice. Simmer gently on low heat to allow flavors to develop. To finish sauce, swirl in remaining 2 T butter and simmer, stirring until sauce thickens slightly.
Recommended tools: A large, heavy skillet, either cast iron or a combo product of stainless steel like All-Clad); long thin spatula; Thermapen Thermometer (not essential, you can also use the “looks ready” method, which I often rely on, but this is one hot tool!)
Salt and pepper both sides of salmon.
Heat remaining 1/4 cup olive oil over medium high heat in skillet until shimmering. Gently place fillets skin side down (to prevent oil from splattering). Using metal spatula, lightly press down on fillets making sure each has good contact with the skillet, for about 6 minutes, or until skin is crispy, and fillet turns easily. Flip fillets and cook on reverse side for about 2 minutes, or until thermometer registers 130°F for medium. If you prefer a more done fish, cook until desired temperature.
Transfer salmon, skin side down, to a paper towel lined plate, until ready to serve. To remove skin, gently slide (clean) spatula between skin and flesh, working your way underneath the fillet. It should detach easily.
Place either smashed or mashed potatoes or angel hair pasta in large shallow bowl. Lay salmon fillet atop potatoes. Spoon warm piccata sauce over fish. Squeeze lemon wedge over each serving to add a splash of brightness.
Can be doubled easily.
Wine Two Five wine personality, Stephanie Davis, believes the flavors in this dish play nicely together, but be aware they each have their own role to play. It makes it easier to select a wine pairing: red, white or rosé wines are welcome here. Steph says, depending on your perception — in the “glass is half empty or half full” sort of way — finding the right wine is either terribly difficult or wonderfully easy. In her winetastic world, she would indulge in a glass of Antinori’s “Cervaro della Sala.” A highly recognized Umbrian white blend of Chardonnay and Grechetto, the wine is fresh, rich, intriguing and memorable. Just like this piccata.
Marchesi Antinori Castella della Sala “Cervaro della Sala,” priced around $46/bottle.
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Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, illuminating the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished, https://www.facebook.com/EmilyKemme, or on Twitter @EmFeedsYou . Life inspired. Vodka tempered.
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