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Wake-Up Call: Fennel Salmon with Blistered Grapes

Young son:  “Dad, tell me another story about when you were young.”  

Dad:  “Well son, there were these salmon that swam freely in the ocean.  But then we ate them all. Sorry."

Just under 15 minutes
Seriously though, this is our wake up call, will there be wild salmon for the next generation? Or will wild salmon be a thing of the past like people driving cars, filters for photos of your face, and gender specific restrooms? Who knows. What we do know is that there are pros and cons to both sides of the farm raised vs. wild salmon debate. Farm raised salmon has a higher fat content that provides more flavor and, when sustainably farmed, can be a superior choice. Wild salmon is obviously more organic but by purchasing wild salmon we encourage the oceans to be overfished, which can lead to a rapid decline in their population. I got the idea for this recipe after talking about shopping for salmon with my friend Katie Couric. She has an amazing daily newsletter, Wake Up Call. Sign up and get the news you need to know to start your day. No hitting snooze on this one {steps off soapbox}.

Signup for Katie Couric's Wake-Up Call newsletter!

must-have

celery
5-6 stalks, just the leaves on top
fennel
2 bulbs and fronds (save the stalks for stock!)
onion (any color)
½
salmon
2 fillets
white wine
a few sprinkles
meyer lemons
2
grapes
about 1 bunch
thyme
about 8 stems
dried dill
1 pinch
balsamic vinegar
about ¼ cup

staples

salt
pepper
olive oil

totally optional

chili flakes
into the infused oil

Preparation

Prep work
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Grab your celery stalks, slice the leaves into small pieces, and set aside. Next, find your fennel. Cut the top stalks off of the bulbs. Pick off the little fronds on top of the stalks and pile onto your celery. Save the stalks for another use (great in stocks!). Now grab your fennel bulbs. Peel off the outer layer of each. If you have one, get your mandolin (if not, work on those knife skills). Shave the fennel bulbs very thin and pile up with your celery and fronds. Next grab your onion, shave it up, and add it to the veg pile.
Salmon pouches
Next lay out two large pieces of parchment paper, each about 1 foot square. Divide your veg pile between the two pieces, making a bed for our salmon. Take your salmon fillets and remove the skin. Place each salmon fillet in the parchment, on top of the veg. Sprinkle the fillets with salt and add a sprinkle of white wine. Cut one of your lemons into thin slices and place on top of the salmon fillets. Now fold each parchment in half. Run your fingers around the three open sides, crimping and rolling the parchment layers together, forming a seal around the salmon. Place your salmon pouches on a baking sheet and place in the oven to cook for about 5 minutes.
Get going on grapes
Grab a large pan and place it over high heat. Drizzle olive oil into the pan. Pick the grapes and thyme leaves from their respective stems. Add the grapes to the hot pan. Season with salt and pepper and toss. When the grapes begin to blister, add the thyme leaves to the pan.
Infuse oil
Find a small glass and add about ¼ cup olive oil to the glass. Zest your remaining lemon into the glass. Add the dill and chili flakes to the oil. Season with salt and pepper and swirl it up. Set aside for our finish.
Wrap it up
Add balsamic vinegar to your grapes and remove them from the heat. Pull the salmon out of the oven, they should be medium-rare. Grab a plate! Place a pile of vegetables on the plate and top with a fillet of salmon with lemon slices. Add a few spoonfuls of grapes to the plate. Drizzle a bit of the infused oil over the entire plate. Gorgeous!
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