I’ve been experiencing a bit of a cooking rut, at least in terms of being inspired to test out some new recipes worth sharing. But finally I found some inspiration when browsing The Food Matters Cookbook yesterday. I have to admit that at first, “White Bean Gratin with Sliced Salmon and Dill” sounded kind of odd. In my mind, “gratin” means potatoes and cream and lots of cheese, and it was tough to see how that could translate to a dish with beans and zucchini and absolutely no dairy to be found.
But I was intrigued and up for the challenge, and the idea of a one-dish dinner with lots of fiber, protein, and healthy fats was too good to pass up.
But first I had to find salmon.
After rounding up the rest of the necessary ingredients at the grocery store, I drove a couple blocks down the road to the awesome seafood market where they check your ID before letting you through the gate. As I started to pull my driver’s license out of my wallet, the security guard glared at me and said, “They’re closed. It’s after five.” It was 5:01. Seriously? All I wanted to do was run in, get 8 ounces of wild Alaskan salmon, and go home.
While I awkwardly three-point-turned my car away from the gate, I contemplated my options. I could drive past my home and continue on to the next town where there’s a seafood market. In rush hour, from the point where I was, that would probably take at least thirty minutes. Or, I could go to the supermarket and get some salmon that is always oddly mushy and smells more like an aquarium than fresh fish.
So I sat in rush hour traffic to get to this second seafood market. I finally get there, look in their display case, and discover that all they had was farm-raised Atlantic salmon. At that point, in defeat, I said a silent apology to the sustainable seafood gods, and ordered a half pound of the salmon. Yes, I could have considered alternatives for dinner, but I was in too deep (as in I was excited about cooking this recipe) to back down. I told myself that this one time wouldn’t hurt. But when I was eating dinner later (which was delicious) I still felt guilty. Lesson learned: if I want to adhere to the guidelines for responsible seafood consumption, I should start grocery shopping a little earlier in the day.
And that’s a good lesson to keep in mind, since I loved this and will be cooking it again in the future.
I followed the recipe directly, and overall I was happy with it, but I think next time I might mix in just a little grated onion or garlic with the zucchini, so you might want to consider trying that as well.
White Bean Gratin with Sliced Salmon and Dill (from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans, drained, liquid reserved
2 zucchini, grated
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and black pepper
8 ounces salmon fillet, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped dill, for garnish
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tbsp olive oil. Combine the beans, zucchini, and lemon zest in the baking dish, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with lemon juice and a little of the reserved bean liquid. Cover with foil and bake until zucchini is tender and releasing juices, about 20 minutes.
Uncover gratin and continue baking until it is nearly dry, about 25-30 minutes more. Remove from the oven. Turn on the broiler on medium-high, with the rack as close to the heat as possible.
Top the gratin with the salmon slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with remaining 2 tbsp olive oil. Broil until salmon is just done. (This only takes a few minutes, so watch it closely!) Garnish with dill, and serve with lemon wedges.