Pine nuts, though not actually nuts, are deserving of a week in the spotlight for the unique texture and flavor they bring to the table and the many benefits they offer for human health. The woodsy flavor of these tiny seeds is a product of pinolenic acid, which has shown antiinflammatory activity in human cell cultures, and has demonstrated inhibitory effects on human breast cancer cells in vitro.
The recipe below was sent to CCSA as part of a series of emails from our resident chef, Dr. Linda Doody. She has been sharing her extensive collection of favorite recipes with friends, family, and the CCSA team as a means of maintaining connections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” – James Beard
Bridget Jones’s Pan-Fried Salmon with Pine Nut Salsa
- ¾ cup currants (golden raisins are also an option)
- 4 salmon fillets, skin on and pin bones removed (~1 lb, 2 oz)
- 7 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- 4 medium celery stalks, cut into ½-inch dice, leaves removed but kept for garnish
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup capers plus 2 Tbsp of their brine
- ⅓ cup large green olives, pitted and cut into ½-inch dice
- I pinch (~¼ tsp) saffron threads mixed with 1 Tbsp hot water
- 1 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 lemon, finely zested (1 tsp) and then juiced (1 tsp) (Meyer lemons are best)
- Cover the currants with boiling water and set aside for 20 minutes while preparing other ingredients.
- Rub salmon with 1 Tbsp olive oil and season with 1 tsp salt and a good grinding of pepper. Put aside while preparing salsa.
- Put 5 Tbsp olive oil into a large sauté pan and place on high heat. Add celery and pine nuts; fry for 4─5 minutes, stirring frequently, until pine nuts begin to brown. (Watch closely, since the nuts can easily burn.) Remove the pan from the heat, and add capers and brine, olives, saffron and water, and a pinch of salt. Drain the currants, and add them along with the parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Set salsa aside.
- Put the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil into a large frying pan and place over medium high heat. When hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and fry for 3 minutes. Decrease heat to medium, then flip the fillets over and continue to cook 2─4 minutes, depending on how you like it cooked. Arrange the salmon on 4 plates and spoon over the salsa. Scatter celery leaves on top.
- You can also roast the salmon in the oven following an American’s Test Kitchen approach, which leaves it with a crust outside and a buttery texture inside. Adjust oven rack to the lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and preheat the oven to 500°F. In order to release fat rendered by the high heat, use a sharp knife to remove any whitish fat from belly of fillet(s). Make 4 or 5 shallow slashes about an inch apart along skin side of each piece, being careful not to cut into flesh. Pat salmon dry with paper towels; rub evenly with oil, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Reduce oven temperature to 275°F and remove baking sheet. Carefully place salmon skin-side down on baking sheet. Roast until the center of the thickest part of the fillet(s) is still translucent when cut into with a paring knife, or an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of the fillet(s) registers 125°F, about 9 to 13 minutes. Spoon salsa over to serve, as directed above.
Note: This is the dish that Patrick Dempsey’s character tells Renée Zellweger that he would have brought her on their imaginary second date in the movie Bridget Jones’s Baby. Dempsey says “From Ottolenghi, delicious and healthy.”