The weather is still cold, rainy and generally pretty crappy, but despite the lousy weather I’ve been in the Spring mood. It might be nasty out but a walk through the local forest has already offered up the first ramps of the season, which I used not long ago on a previous post. I also went out and checked on our herb garden. The mint and Lemon Balm are already starting to emerge and take over (that means lots of weeding to keep them in check) and the tarragon already has 3-4 inch shoots.

I was in the mood for something simple, light and “Springy” for dinner tonight. My wife had recently picked up some nice looking salmon which I was itching to cook and with the newly sprouted tarragon I knew I had the basis of a wonderfully simple and elegant dish right in front of me. Add in some asparagus and baby Yukon Gold potatoes and I was set for the evening.

You can’t get much more simple than the recipe that follows. I hate to even call this a recipe, but it does illustrate how easy it is to take a few simple ingredients, at their peak of freshness and flavor and create a dish that is quick enough for an everyday meal or elegant enough to serve at your next dinner party.

Pan Seared Salmon with Roasted Asparagus
serves 4

4 fillets salmon, skin removed, 4-6oz. each
1 pound fresh asparagus
2 pounds baby Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 lemon
1-2 tsp. fresh tarragon, minced
freshly ground black pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the potatoes into quarters or sixths, depending on their size. Toss with about 3 Tbs. of the olive oil then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Toss to coat then place on a baking tray and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Gently stir them after about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus by cutting off the bottom, tough portions of the asparagus. When the potatoes have about 5 minutes left raise the oven temperature to 425°F. Toss the asparagus with about 2 Tbs. olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay out on a baking tray, 1 layer thick. When potatoes are done remove from oven and put in the asparagus. Cook for 8 minutes.

While the asparagus is cooking heat 2 large saute pans over high heat (you can use just 1 pan but then you will probably want to cook the fish in 2 batches). Add 2 Tbs. olive oil to each pan. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Once the oil just starts to smoke add the fish, skin side up. Immediately lower the heat to medium high. After 3-4 minutes flip the fish over. I like my salmon on the medium rare side so I then take it out of the pan after another 2-4 minutes depending on the thickness (sometimes even less time if the fillet is really thin). If you like it well done then it will need about 6-7 minutes longer.

After the asparagus has cooked for 8 minutes, sprinkle on the minced tarragon and roast for 1 minute longer. Remove from the oven and squeeze the lemon juice over top. Divide the asparagus and potatoes between 4 plates then top with a salmon fillet.