Faced with a pretty standard fridge full of ingredients the other night, I wanted to make something seasonal, healthy and quick. This is what I ended up with. It was a perfect combination of virtuousness and deliciousness and was very fast too.
This type of quick tomato and fennel sauce has become a regular in our house this summer as we have had access to lots of lovely tomatoes and there are only so many tomato salads even I can eat. If you have access to lots of good tomatoes you can make a big batch of this sauce and freeze it for the cold days ahead.
Feel free to substitute the salmon, chicken would be great. You could also toss the tomato and fennel sauce through some pasta, gnocchi, quinoa or brown rice to bulk it up a little.
To serve 2
2 fillets of wild salmon
1 bulb of fennel (mine was on its last legs but that matters not in a recipe like this!)
Around 20 cherry tomatoes (part of the glut in our garden)
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
red wine vinegar to taste (start with a half teaspoon, then taste and adjust)
chilli flakes to taste (start with a pinch, then taste and adjust)
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
A bunch of greens – I used broccolini but kale, purple sprouting broccoli or even asparagus would be good. Just use what is in season and roughly chop it to suit your taste
You can pick up all the equipment I use through my shop.
1. Finely chop the fennel, keep the fronds to scatter over the finished dish (video here)
2. Heat the oil in a largish frying pan then add the fennel and cook on a medium high heat for around 5-8 minutes, until the fennel is softening and starting to turn golden
3. While the fennel is cooking, slice the garlic and add it to the fennel for the last couple of minutes of cooking
4. Chop the tomatoes in half roughly (alternatively, put them in a bowl and use your hands to crush them, skins and all)
5. Add the tomatoes to the fennel and bubble gently for around 4 minutes before turning off the heat. They will thicken slightly and look a little cloudy. Add the red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and chilli flakes then taste and adjust the vinegar, salt, pepper and chilli to suit you. Scrape the finished sauce into a bowl and set aside
6. Wipe the frying pan with kitchen towel then heat again on a high heat (without oil). Rub the salmon with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and place into the hot frying pan to cook. Don’t move the salmon for 5 minutes, depending on the thickness and temperature of your salmon it will take 5-8 minutes to cook. Flip after 5 minutes and continue to cook on the other side until done to your liking. The best way to tell is to look at the side of the piece (or if you’re not confident enough with that, cut into it to see how opaque it is). When it turns opaque almost all the way up, it is ready to flip. I like my salmon a little pink in the middle but, cook it as well as you like. By cooking it through mainly on the first side without moving it, you end up with a lovely crispy outside
7. While the salmon cooks, heat a saucepan that is big enough to hold the greens.
8. Add the greens to the saucepan, you want them to either be still holding some of the water they were washed in, or you can add a couple of big tablespoons of water when you put them in. This will help them steam.
9. Put the lid on the pan and cook over a medium heat for around 4 minutes, shaking every 30 seconds to avoid the greens catching. Try not to take the lid off too much as it will prolong cooking time.
10. Toss the cooked greens with the tomato sauce (and the rice, pasta, quinoa or gnocchi if using) and serve the salmon on top with the fennel fronds and a squeeze of lemon.