Here’s a recipe for making the most of your farmers market’s most ubiquitous offerings: If yours is anything like mine, green beans, tomatoes and basil are at just about every stand. I pickle half the green beans in this recipe, for even more variation in flavor and texture.
When it comes to salmon, in my opinion nothing beats sockeye for taste, texture and pure, simple beauty. If you can get your hands on it, try Alaskan Copper River sockeye. Sustainably wild-caught, Copper River sockeye will have a flesh that is almost ruby red in color, as well as an unparalleled flavor.
2 stalks celery
2 small carrots
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 T butter
1 C Israeli couscous (you may also find it in the store as Palestinian couscous, ptitim or pearl pasta)
1 C white wine
3 C vegetable stock
1 lb green beans, washed and ends trimmed
1 C white wine vinegar
2 C water
1/4 C sugar
1 T salt
2 T pickling spices to your taste (garlic clove, thyme, bay, fennel seed, mustard seed, coriander, chili flake, etc.)
2 T vegetable oil
3-4 various heirloom tomatoes
1 oz fresh basil leaves
4 5-oz portions of salmon
extra virgin olive oil, to taste
salt and black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, start the couscous: Cut the celery, carrots and onion into a small dice and mince the garlic. In a large skillet or shallow, wide pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the mirepoix and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Add the couscous and toast for 1 minute. Add the wine and increase the heat to high. Allow the wine to reduce until the pan is almost dry, then add the stock. Cook until the couscous is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
When your pot of water is boiling, blanch half of your green beans for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove and place in a single layer to cool. To pickle the remaining beans, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pickling spices in a pot. Bring to a boil. Add the remaining green beans and cook until slightly tender but still crunchy. Remove from the heat and allow the beans to cool in the pickling liquid.
While the beans are cooling, slice your heirlooms in whatever manner you find most appealing. I cut mine in quarters and then into thin slices that I could shingle on the plate. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
To roast the beans, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large roasting pan in your wood oven. You will want a hot oven for this procedure. Drain the pickled beans from the brine. When your oil is smoking, add the blanched fresh beans and the drained pickled beans to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are just tender and have taken on some nice charred edges, about 4-5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
To cook your fish, heat the remaining vegetable oil in a saute pan in your wood oven. Season the fish with salt only. When the oil is smoking, add the fish to the pan and return to the oven. Sear the fish on one side only – the heat of your oven will be enough to cook the other side. Sockeye is best served medium, which means a skewer inserted into the center of the flesh should come out warm to the touch. This fish will cook quickly, probably 3-6 minutes depending on the temperature of your oven and the thickness of your portions. When done to your liking, remove the fish from the pan to rest.
To serve the dish, place a pile of couscous in the middle of a plate. shingle some heirloom tomato slices along one side. Place the fish, seared side up, on top of the couscous. Top with some of the roasted beans and tear a few basil leaves over the plate with your fingers. Drizzle the beans and tomatoes with some olive oil, and you’re good to go.
I recently came across a white wine variety that was new to me, called Müller-Thurgau, which would pair perfectly with this dish. The particular Thurgau I tasted was from northern Italy, but the grape is also grown in Austria, Germany, Hungary and elsewhere. This crisp, mineral-laden relative of riesling would be a great complement to both the tomatoes and beans in this dish.