There is a wonderful restaurant that is a favorite of my husband and mine called 21 Milk Street. It's hidden away, but worth seeking out if you're ever visiting downtown Portland, Maine. Every time I go, I get the same dish because it is so incredibly delicious! I really have no idea how they make it but, through experimentation, I have created my own version that satisfies my craving perfectly.
As elegant as this dish appears on the plate, it is very quick and easy. Also, the creamed spinach portion of this recipe is wonderful by itself as a vegetable side dish. The sauce is a simple balsamic reduction that simmers along side in a small saucepan while the rest of the meal is prepared. If you've never had balsamic reduction, you must give this a try. In this recipe, I've cut the vinegar by half with stock for a slightly smoother taste. I love this sauce and can eat it alone by the spoonful; it is so tangy and sweet. This is the perfect Valentine's Day dinner that will impress your family or special someone...but keep the secret in your vault of how truly simple it is to make!
Salmon & Creamed Spinach with Balsamic Reduction
(Makes 2 servings)
¼ cup chicken or vegetable stock
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive or canola oil
¼ medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
2 center-cut salmon fillets (about 5 oz. each)
1 teaspoon grapeseed or canola oil
1. In a small saucepan, stir together the stock and vinegar. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half. The mixture will thicken slightly and coat a spoon. Simmering time is approximately 12-15 minutes; do not reduce too much or the sauce will be too thick.
2. While the vinegar mixture is simmering, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Saute until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes. Add thawed spinach, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, until spinach is cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and stir until melted and spinach is creamy. Remove from heat while you prepare the salmon.
3. Heat a heavy skillet over medium to high heat (I use a cast-iron skillet). Season salmon fillets with salt & pepper and rub the grapeseed or canola oil on each side. When skillet is very hot, place the oiled salmon in the pan and do not disturb for at least 2 minutes until a brown crust has formed. Turn salmon and sear other side for at least two minutes. Turn again and complete cooking to desired doneness. (If you like your salmon on the rare side, the 2 minutes per side should be fine. I like mine cooked through to flaky and no longer pink in center, which takes another 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook, or fish will be dry.)
4. Briefly reheat creamed spinach over medium heat. Divide equally between two serving plates. Top mound of spinach with a salmon fillet and spoon ½ of the balsamic reduction over fish and drizzle around plate.
Nutritional Information per serving (½ recipe) of spinach, salmon and sauce: 413.5 calories, 11.5 g carbohydrate, 10 g total fat, 7.5 g saturated fat, 2 g fiber, 45.6 g protein.
Nutritional Information per serving of creamed spinach only: 119 calories, 7.5 g carbohydrate, 6 g total fat, 3.7 g saturated fat, 2 g fiber, 4.5 g protein.
Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010
Inspired by my favorite dish at 21 Milk Street Restaurant, Portland, ME