By Amy Traverso
Jun 19 2017
Barbara Lynch’s Seared Salmon with White Beans and SpinachPhoto Credit : Deborah Jones
Spending the day with chef Barbara Lynch was one of the highlights of filming season one of Weekends with Yankee. Her restaurant group, beginning with No. 9 Park and continuing on through the Butcher Shop and four other properties, has trained some of the city’s best chefs, who in turn went on to inspire and train others. She was recently named to Time’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. And in her new memoir, Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire, she tells how she accomplished all of this despite growing up one of seven children raised by a single mother in a South Boston housing project.
I love spending time with Barbara. She’s hilarious, unapologetically salty, and very real. She’s also generous, and a meeting with her is always followed by some incredible eating.
For our Weekends shoot last winter, she prepared a fantastic version of cassoulet, the rich French casserole of beans, duck, sausage, and herbs. It’s a wonderful dish but not easy to replicate at home. So, to share some signature Barbara Lynch flavors, we’ve selected the following seared salmon dish from her cookbook, Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009).
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 pound fresh spinach, tough stems removed, leaves washed and dried
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans or a 15-ounce can of white beans, rinsed and drained
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
4 salmon filets, 5 to 6 ounces each, preferably skin-on
Olive-Lemon Relish (recipe follows)
Sea salt or fleur de sel to finish
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a large handful of the spinach and toss gently. As it wilts and makes room in the pan, add more spinach. When all of the spinach is wilted, pour off any liquid in the pan, then press on the spinach with the back of a large spoon to release any more liquid and discard that liquid as well. If it is still wet, drain on paper towels and return to the pan. Add the cooked beans and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and gently heat all together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To cook the salmon, heat the grapeseed or canola oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When the pan is hot, add the filets, skin-side down. Cook without moving them until the skin is browned and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. (Be patient: If you try to lift the salmon too soon, the skin will stick to the pan.) With a spatula, carefully flip the fish over and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how you like your salmon cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, divide the beans and spinach among four plates. Place the seared salmon on top, skin side up. Top the salmon with a little of the relish, if using, and dot some around the plate. Finish with a pinch of sea salt or fleur de sel.
1/2 cup pitted, chopped green, brine-cured olives, such as Picholine
1 lemon, preferably Meyer, peel removed and segments cut out and chopped, juice squeezed and reserved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon honey, plus more to taste if using a regular lemon
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar, preferably Chardonnay
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a medium bowl, gently toss all the ingredients, including the reserved juice, together. Taste and add more honey, salt, and pepper, if needed. Use this relish on salmon, roasted chicken, grilled eggplant, or lamb. Yield: 1 cup