Through a series of ridiculous events Nick and I moved our family to New York for a single year, the 2012/2013 school year. Once upon a time I lived there for 6 years and it still feels more like home than anywhere else in the world. I just feel like myself there. I understand New York and I feel like New York understands me. I’m mutli-layered. I’m complex. I’m not only Central park and I’m not only Tribeca. I’m not only long lunches in midtown (although I am a lot of those), I’m not only harried bagels from H&H. I’m not only craft foods in Brooklyn. I’m not only fancy shoes on Park Avenue (sadly). I’m actually a little bit of all of it mixed together. I love New Orleans and I also love London, where we spend our summers, but New York….well it’s just NEW YORK. I miss it so much it aches sometimes. I miss the culture. I miss the walking. I miss Soul Cycle. I miss the restaurants. I miss the runs along the river. I miss the people. I miss the pace.
What I do NOT miss is the tiny apartments with no outdoor space. And that is why we live in New Orleans.
So, back to the 2012/2013 school year.
One of the best parts of being there again was meeting incredible people as a fully fledged grown up. Our son attended Pre-K at The British International School and I was amazed at the diverse group of children who attended there. In a class of 11 there were people of Thai, Indian, Australian, British, Brazilian and Kuwaiti nationalities. I loved – I mean REALLY loved the people I met there, parents, teachers, administrators…they were just…awesome. In particular Nick and I met a couple we are sure to be friends with for the rest of our lives. It was immediately an easy friendship based on mutual respect, adoration of food and our children, and an infatuation with NYC but also a nostalgia for The South (where three of the four of us were from). They are intelligent, loving, funny, warm and extremely tall. And we struck up a southern kind of friendship, the kind you don’t make in New York, where you book lunches with your best friends weeks in advance and plans all have a way of falling through if something better comes along. Within weeks we had a “Hey! What are you guys doing for dinner tonight?” friendship. That is something that just doesn’t happen in a big city but that happens all the time down south.
It was exactly one of those moments that led me to discover of this really, really awesome salmon dish. In a fit of friendliness I texted Christie “Hey! What are you up to today? Want to come over for dinner?” “Sure!” she replied. Oh. Uh-Oh. I had no idea what to cook and I was standing at the entrance of Whole Foods. A few weeks prior (during a fit of healthy eating) I discovered a great Rozanne Gold salad made up of Spiced Salmon and a Moroccan Salad. It was great but I thought it deserved a place in the main course menu, not just a salad. I added spinach sautéed with garlic in place of where Rozanne used greens and fresh basil and I added a bit of dried coriander and increased the portion sizes. A few little changes and all of a sudden I had a simple and stellar weeknight meal. The spice combo really takes this out of the realm of boring cooked salmon and turns it into a fantastic dinner.
It also takes a very small amount of time to make and only one saute pan. Also important in New York.
- 4 salmon fillets, 6-8 ounces (170-225 g) each
- 2 oranges
- 1/2 small red onion, peeled and sliced very, very thin
- 12 kalamata olives, pitted
- 16 oz (500 g) fresh spinach
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 6 tablespoons (90ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Take the salmon out of the refrigerator and place on a plate to come closer to room temperature.
- Cut the peeling away from the oranges and slice the oranges into rounds about 1/4" thick. Divide evenly onto each of 4 large dinner plates for serving. Top the oranges with a few slivers of red onion and 3 olives each.
- In a small bowl blend together the spices for the spice mixture. Lay the salmon fillets out on a plate and pat the spice mixture over evenly over the flesh side (not skin side) of the salmon.
- Heat a large non-stick saute pan over medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil. When the oil is smoking add the spinach. It will seem like there is too much spinach for the pan but don't worry, it will shrink a ton! Give it a stir and after about 30 seconds, add the garlic. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon or non stick tongs. When the spinach is done, divide evenly and place on top of the plates with the oranges, onions and olives.
- Return the non stick pan to the stove over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of oil to the pan and let it warm up. Once it is warm, pick up each salmon fillet letting the excess spice fall off of the fish. Add the fish to the pan, spice side down, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then flip the salmon and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Place a piece of fish on each plate and drizzle the plate with olive oil.
- Another option is to add a drizzle of a balsamic glaze. You can buy balsamic glazes at the grocery store or you can boil an inexpensive balsamic in a small pot until it decreases by 3/4 and gets sticky. After you have finished plating the dish, add a small drizzle over the whole thing.