Now that I live in DC, it isn’t often that I get to travel home to Chicago for a weekend. So when my Dad’s birthday started to roll around, I decided to begin my Christmas vacation a few days early. I arrived home one Wednesday morning, and walked into my childhood house… greeted by my adorable fluff-ball Anna and my Mom.
Throughout grade school and high school, we were always the house to be at. We had the trampoline, dogs, huge yard, basement, and of course – always a fully-stocked pantry and refrigerator. Naturally, everyone that walks into our house first hugs my mother and then instinctively opens the pantry door. There must be something delicious lurking behind that door. What I found was so disturbing I simply stared in dismay – my parents had NO food in their house! Sure there was cereal, rice, and the occasional pint of blueberries, but nothing you could actually eat. No meals at all! My mission was solidified. My dad would have a proper meal for his birthday if it’s the last thing I do.
On the menu? Salmon and asparagus spears baked inside a crispy puff pastry. I also introduced the family to my boyfriend’s new favorite side dish (eggplant puree) and placed it all alongside a wintery butter lettuce salad. With good food, great wine, and priceless company, we brought the family back to my parents’ house. So happy birthday again, Dad (circa: December 2011)!
Salmon And Asparagus En Croute
Servings: 4 People
4 6-oz. salmon fillets, center-cut
1 bunch asparagus
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
3 green onions, chopped
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
2-3 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions
1 Tbs course sea salt
Preheat oven to 400°F. Bring small saucepan of salted water to a boil. Chop tips off of asparagus and blanch in boiling water until bright green and al dente (not soft), about 1 minute. Remove asparagus tips from water and cool in ice bath. Drain and place asparagus tips in small blender. Add olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, green onion, and parsley and season with salt and pepper (generously). Blend until smooth to create “paste”.
Cut puff pastry into 8 rectangles, at least 1 inch larger than the salmon filets on each side. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Chop remaining asparagus stalks into 1 ½ inch pieces. Place salmon fillets on 4 of the puff pastry rectangles. Spread with asparagus paste. Lay chopped asparagus stalks across paste, cross-wise and tightly packed. Cover with unused rectangle puff pastry. Seal edges with fork, tightly wrapped around salmon.
Create egg wash using 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs water. Using pastry brush, brush tops of puff pastry salmon packets with egg wash. Sprinkle with course sea salt. Bake in oven 20 minutes or until pastry is lightly browned. Remove from oven and serve warm.