Jeff has always enjoyed cooking in our extra large cast iron skillet. With 6 kids and in-laws next door, it has served its purpose. But as of late, the number of people eating at our house has diminished greatly. Last year, we went from having 5-6 people sitting around the kitchen island and eating dinner to 3 of us on a nightly basis. Kids have gone off to school or moved to apartments to create their own life experiences.
When I arrived home the other day, there was a big heavy box at the door. Inside I would find a smaller cast iron frying pan with a cookbook called One Pan, Two Plates by Carla Snyder. Jeff had decided to get another frying pan so that we could make meals for the small audience of two. It's hard to get used to cooking for two people when for the past nine years we have cooked for groups of 6-8 on a regular basis. But, there are benefits to cooking big meals - you end up with additional meals that are great for lunch.
We thumbed through the cookbook and decided to make the Thyme-Rubbed Salmon because it looked so easy with only 5 major ingredients: salmon, fresh thyme, shallots, cauliflower and heavy cream. It also had a quick prep and cook time. In 30 minutes, we could be done and enjoying our meal. After working long days and arriving home at 6 PM, it's nice to eat before 7 PM.
As I patted down the salmon and rubbed it with thyme, I kept thinking, I hope this tastes good. There weren't a lot of ingredients or spices and I'm hungry. I chopped the shallots and cauliflower and heated the frying pan...here we go. Twenty minutes later, we had dinner in front of us and it was DELICIOUS! The salmon was moist and flavorful and the cauliflower was amazing, slightly creamy and melted in your mouth. I couldn't stop putting my fork back into the frying pan to eat a little more cauliflower.
Jeff and I were saying that some people may not like all the cream. Maybe, half cream and half chicken broth. I think there are some less fattening ways to make the dish, but right now...I like it as is!
If you are looking for some great one pan dishes for two, this is a perfect place to start. You'll probably see more of these dishes as we find new recipes to try. Maybe cooking for two isn't a bad thing!
Thyme-Rubbed Salmon with Creamy Cauliflower "Risotto"
- (2) 6 ounce salmon fillets - skin removed (we left the bottom skin on)
- 1/2 teaspoon of freshly chopped thyme
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1/2 head of cauliflower, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup of heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Pat the salmon with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Rub the chopped thyme on the salmon. Set aside.
2. Heat a 12-inch (preferably cast iron) skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer and slightly smoke, add the fillets, skin side up if you didn't remove the skin. Cook for 3 minutes and turn for another 3 minutes. Make sure they have a golden crust. Remove from pan, put on a dish and cover loosely with foil. The salmon will not be completely cooked.
3. Add the shallots and cook for 30 seconds, add the cauliflower, mix well. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, some salt and pepper and toss. Now let the mixture cook for 3-4 minutes and let it begin to brown.
4. Turn the cauliflower and allow it to brown on the other side, another 3-4 minutes. Do not stir the mixture.
5. Add the heavy cream and stir. Once it is incorporated, place the salmon on top of the cauliflower mixture and cover. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the salmon is completely cooked.
6. Remove from heat and serve. Place the cauliflower on the plate, top with the salmon and add addition chopped thyme, if desired.
Written by Tricia White