Sunday, September 22, 2013

Orange-Pecan Encrusted Salmon

Many years ago, I had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant in Damariscotta, Maine.  Unfortunately, that restaurant has since closed, but the happy recollection of that delicious meal lives on in my memory.  I remember a salmon fillet topped with a crunchy topping that included pecans and brown sugar (and probably crumbled Ritz crackers, too).  This recipe was inspired by that dish and is just as satisfying.  The addition of fresh fruit really escalates the complexity of flavors and the orange pairs beautifully with the salmon.  The topping mixture can be prepared ahead of time, making this a quick, fool-proof meal to throw together at the last minute.  Turn a week night into something special or dazzle company; whenever you serve this dish, you will see smiles!

Orange-Pecan Encrusted Salmon
Makes 2 servings

1 navel orange (seedless)
2 (5 oz.) center-cut salmon fillets, skin removed
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest (from orange)
2 tablespoons pecans, finely chopped
2 tablespoons gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
1-1/2 teaspoons coconut sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons coconut oil (melted), plus more to coat pan
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.  Zest the skin of the orange into a small bowl.  Add the chopped pecans, panko breadcrumbs and coconut sugar.  Add 1-1/2 teaspoons melted coconut oil and stir with a fork until well distributed and mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside.

2.  With coconut oil, grease a baking pan or individual casserole dishes; set aside.  Cut orange into four to six 3/8" slices (depending on size of orange), reserving the two rounded ends for juicing.  Stack slices and cut away the rind.  Place two or three orange slices in a row on the baking pan and repeat with remaining orange slices to create a second row (or line the bottom of your individual dishes with the orange slices). 

3.  Season both sides of one salmon fillet with salt and pepper and place it on a row of orange slices; repeat with remaining salmon fillet.  Take the reserved orange ends and squeeze fresh orange juice over each fillet.  Evenly divide the crumb mixture and spoon over the top of both fillets and press down lightly with your hand.  Bake in the preheated oven for 18-24 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.  Garnish with any remaining orange slices (optional).  Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information per serving: 369 calories, 15.9 g carbohydrate (2.6 g dietary fiber, 9.4 g sugars), 22.3 g total fat (6.2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 71 mg cholesterol, 103 mg sodium, 54.5 mg calcium, 583 mg potassium, 26.5 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2013