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Salmon and Potatoes Roasted on Fig Leaves with Fresh Fig Salad

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Best known as the lingerie of biblical times, fig leaves are truly beautiful. They are a vibrant green color, larger than an adult hand, with a dull matte sheen and a coarse, texture. Throughout the Mediterranean region, where figs flourish, the leaves are used in cooking. As the fig leaf roasts, its edges curl and the leaf becomes crisp. The oils in the leaf impart a subtle herbaceous flavor to the food resting on it. In the following recipe it’s the potatoes that absorb the unique flavor from the leaf. This recipe is an adaptation of one generously shared by Staffan Terje, the executive chef at Scala’s Bistro, one of my favorite re restaurant in San Francisco. If you don’t have access to fig leaves, roast the salmon directly on the potatoes.

Makes4 servings

Cooking Methodroasting

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturefruity, herby, savory

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or lemon thyme leaves, plus 4 small sprigs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large or 8 medium-sized fig leaves
  • 4 large firm ripe figs, any variety, stems trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 4 boneless and skinless salmon fillets (6 to 8 ounces each)

Instructions

  1. Place ½ cup water in a 10-inch nonstick skillet. Arrange a layer of potato slices, slightly overlapping, on the bottom of the pan; sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the thyme, a pinch of salt, and a grinding of black pepper; drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Repeat with the remaining potatoes, ½ teaspoon thyme, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until sizzling. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover and let stand off the heat until slightly cooled.

  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500°F. Lightly oil a large rimmed sheet pan. Arrange the fig leaves on the pan. If using smaller leaves, place 2 leaves, stem ends overlapping, together. Set pan aside.

  3. Prepare the fig salad: Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the figs into ½-inch-thick wedges. Cut each wedge across into 3 or more ½-inch pieces. Place them in a medium bowl. Add the red onion, lime juice, lime zest, a sprinkling of salt, and a grinding of black pepper; drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Gently fold to combine. Set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.

  4. Just before serving, carefully arrange a portion of the potatoes in a thick layer in the center of each fig leave—Top each layer of potatoes with a salmon fillet. (If not using fig leaves, spread the potatoes in a shallow baking dish and place the salmon on top.) Sprinkle the salmon with salt, a grinding of black pepper, and the remaining thyme leaves. Roast until the salmon is cooked through and the fig leaves are crisp and curled on the edges, 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon.

  5. Slide a wide spatula under each fig leaf and transfer the leaf, salmon, and potatoes to a dinner plate. Carefully arrange a spoonful of the fig salad on top of each piece of salmon. Garnish each serving with a sprig of fresh thyme.

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