This is another one of those “I can’t wait to grill!” dinners that got thwarted. I woke up on Sunday morning with a warm breeze blowing through the bedroom window. Saturday had been about 80 degrees. Sunday progressed a beautiful day until around 11:30am when the wind started howling and black clouds started rushing in from the mountains. Then it rained. Then it wintry mixed. Then it snowed. And I lost my interest in grilling. But that’s okay, because heck, baked salmon is nothing to sniff at. And even if it was, this sauce is so subtle and delicious, it wouldn’t matter.
If you’ve never roasted your own peppers before, now’s a great time to try it. It’s incredibly easy. I’m not sure it’s always cost effective – sometimes fresh red peppers are really expensive and a jar of marinated roasted red peppers might be cheaper. But you can roast all kinds of peppers! The roasted poblano peppers here make a wonderful, rich base for this creamy sauce. You can roast them a few different ways. If you have a gas stove, you can do it right on that burner flame. If, like me, you have an electric stove (something I used to think would be the death of me if I ever got stuck with one, but now am quite ambivalent about), then the broiler is the way to go. I chose to not put my oven rack in the closest position to the broiler. That way I got the peppers charred, but at a little bit slower time, so the peppers were more roasted through.
You can use other peppers if you’d like – Anaheim or red bell or a combination. I also think next time I’ll roast a jalapeño to give the sauce a kick. And I might add in cilantro, because I love it. For the fish, I used a small side of salmon. It was on sale. Fillets will obviously work. Snapper and halibut would be great options too (or shrimp, chicken, pork…). For the vegetables, you can use pretty much anything. I think spinach, asparagus, or peppers would be perfect.
salmon with creamy roasted poblano sauce
adapted from Rick Bayless, serves 4
2 poblano peppers (sometimes also labeled pasilla peppers)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 zucchini and 2 yellow summer squash, cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces.
1 1-pound side of salmon
1. Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place peppers on it. Broil for about 15 minutes, turning once. Place peppers in a bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let cool.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until browned. Be careful not to let the garlic get too brown – it can happen really quickly. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a blender. Set pan aside.
3. Once the peppers are cool, remove them from the bowl and peel the skin off. Rip out the stems and discard the seeds. Give them a rinse to wash off any stuck on seeds and pieces of skin. Coarsely chop and add peppers, along with cream and milk, to the blender and process until smooth.
4. Reheat the leftover oil in the sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the squash and cook until starting to brown, but still crisp-tender. About 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Preheat the over to 400 degrees. While the vegetables are cooking, reline the same baking sheet you used for the peppers with parchment paper. Drizzle some oil on the parchment and place the fish on it. Drizzle more oil on top of the fish and generously season with coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Bake in the oven for about 6 minutes, until the fish flakes (internal temperature should be 155 degrees). The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the side of salmon you get, or if you do fillets. Just be sure not to over cook.
6. While the fish is cooking, add the pepper sauce to the squash and simmer until thickened slightly. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve the fish with a generous ladle of the sauce and vegetables. Top with cilantro as well.