When I'm after elegance, my go-to is salmon. It's easy to cook well, delicious, and relatively inexpensive. I also tend to look for recipes that use the oven instead of the stove top—a way to introduce good caramelization on the fish without creating that lingering fishy smell that we all love so much.
I adapted this recipe from Real Life Entertaining, a glossy book by Jennifer Rubell with photographs of fabulous people eating fabulous things. Normally I don't go for that kind of cookbook, but I was pulled in by the ease and elegance of her recipes. Making full use of the oven, small potatoes and wedges of lemon cook alongside the salmon, which is coated with mustard seeds and fresh dill. A fresh yogurt sauce—bit of garlic, lemon juice, more dill, and chopped cucumber—is simple to throw together, while the rest of dinner is ready in 20 minutes.
It's nothing hectic, and the result is wonderful.
- 1 1/2 cups yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 small clove garlic minced
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 2 small cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, and cut into small dice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 salmon steaks or pieces of fillet
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- 5 small waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, cut into small wedges
Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and 3 tablespoons of the dill in a bowl and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let sit while you prepare the other ingredients, so the flavors will come together.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lay the salmon on a baking sheet and drizzle with the honey and a tablespoon or two of the olive oil. Massage the mixture into the flesh, then sprinkle with the mustard seeds, remaining fresh dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the lemon wedges on the pan.
On a separate sheet pan, arrange the potatoes and sprinkle with the remaining oil and a hefty seasoning of salt and pepper. Toss well with your hands to coat.
Place the salmon and the potatoes in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. The salmon should not be turned, but halfway through remove the potatoes and flip them. After 20 minutes the potatoes should be golden brown and the salmon just cooked through. Serve with the lemon wedges and dill yogurt sauce.