Lilly Higgins: Salmon cooked slowly in olive oil is a revelation
There is a patriotic twist to this family dinner, mixing green, white and orange hues
Slow roasted salmon with cauliflower puree
This is one of those really beautiful, tasty dishes that are simple to make. Each time I make it, I vow to make it more often. It’s the perfect way to celebrate Irish salmon. Trout will work cooked this way too, but needs even less time in the oven, depending on how thick it is.
As with all of my St Patrick’s Day recipes, the Tricolour is hidden in there somewhere – with green dill, white cauliflower mash and orange salmon. It’s subtle but patriotic and using some of the nicest produce we have in Ireland.
Even though I slow roast the fish at a low temperature, this meal can still be on the table within 30 minutes. That’s the beauty of fish. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly it turns to opaque and flakes apart. The heat is quite low here and the salmon is gently cooked in the olive oil and tomatoes. The vines add a distinctive promise of summer flavour.
I used to use lemon juice or a splash of white wine or sambuca to steam my salmon but have been converted to cooking the oily fish in olive oil since I read New York Times columnist Alison Roman’s recipe. It cooks perfectly. She layers slices of orange and lemon all over the fish first, then bathes it all in the oil. I don’t use as much oil as Roman, but I do love adding a few lemon slices. The dill also adds amazing flavour.
I sometimes serve this with pasta. Tagliatelle or orzo work well.The cooking oil, along with the tomatoes and some fresh dill, can be stirred through the pasta and the salmon served on top. It’s fast food in the best possible way.
I first discovered the joys of mashed cauliflower a few years ago, having it pureed with coconut milk and a pinch of cumin. This version is a nod to cauliflower cheese, a dish I adore and make quite regularly.
If you can get your hands on some Irish cheese such as Coolea, then all the better. It has the nuttiness of Parmesan but with way less food miles and the taste is great, with caramel undertones.
Slow roasted salmon with Cauliflower puree
4 salmon darnes, skinless ideally, but fine with skin on
1 lemon, cut into round slices
6 sprigs dill or basil
150ml olive oil
250g cherry tomatoes on the vine
Sea salt and black pepper
1 head cauliflower
2 tbsp butter
25g finely grated Parmesan, or Coolea
1. Preheat an oven to 160 degrees, or equivalent. Lay the salmon darnes on a rimmed baking tray. I use an A4 sized tray for this as everything fits quite snugly and I use less oil. Remove the skin from the salmon darnes or leave them on and just lift the fish off them once cooked.
2. Lay the salmon darnes on the tray next to one another. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Tuck a few sprigs of dill in between and layer the lemon slices on top. Arrange the tomato vines around the fish.
3. Pour the olive oil over everything, ensuring the fish is coated. Place in the oven to cook for 20-25 minutes, spooning the oil over the fish half way through.
4. Meanwhile cut the cauliflower into florets and steam them till very tender, about 10 minutes. You can also simmer it in water but it tends to get a little soggy.
5. Once cooked, blitz the florets with the butter and cheese till smooth.
6. Serve right away with a salmon darne, some tomatoes, a drizzle of the cooking juices and some fresh dill.