This “warmish” salad has become something of an unintentional fixture in my current cooking repertoire. I love how the soy sauce and miso salty-umami flavours cut through the richness of the fish – a far cry from my first experiences of eating salmon baked in a bed of puff pastry. Despite the fact salmon is definitely a rich meat, this makes it the perfect vehicle for the pickled cucumbers and loads of vegetables for freshness.
Because this salad is best served lukewarm/room temperature, it is easy to prepare in advance if hosting a group for lunch or casual summer dinner. I often pick up the fresh salmon tails or cut pieces from my supermarket as they are often on special despite only being packed that day – in which case I buy enough for four servings and make enough for lunches later. There are certainly a few components to this dish, however I think it would be a shame not to include them all as they work so well together.
Egg bakes are one of the easiest, most nutritious ways to make four portions of main meals. The additions of smoked salmon with the salty, citrus bite of the preserved lemon makes these eggs taste next level – to the point where I have brought this along for night shift and quite happily consumed it on four consecutive occasions.
I’m a huge advocate for lazy, one bowl situations for meal preparation, and this dish here is no exception. I’m obviously not coming up with anything new – a frittata is a frittata, after all, but I can’t overemphasise how great a combination the fish and preserved citrus are together. I’ve had the two things lying about in the fridge for a while (another bonus) – both bought on special and keep forever – and so ultimately very little effort was taken here. Previously when I’ve been throwing together egg bakes I’ve used cheese to cut through the obvious “egginess” of the eggs, but with the lemons finely chopped throughout, there’s really no need. I’m not just catering to dietary restrictions here (dairy free, paleo, primal, low carb, pescatarian) – this is simply delicious in general.
I made a terrible mistake in the preparation of this dish in that I purchased chicken breasts for protein. It’s not so much that I dislike chicken breast as I prefer pretty much every other cut of chicken to it. Generally when I’m meal prepping (as I did with this dish) with chicken, I will use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for ease, but a bonier cut such as a whole butterflied chicken or even just legs or drumsticks would work well and add more flavour. Chicken breast is fine, darker meat is delicious.
I suppose this recipe may end up looking a bit involved for something I actually intended to just have lying around for leftover dinner prior to leaving for night shift. It is highly likely that if I’d read it in a magazine I would have 100% skipped past it because it calls for more than one cooking vessel. However, once the bake is in the oven, there is very little to do for the cauliflower to make it the perfect little salad to balance out the meal. This is unsurprisingly one of those meals that gets better the longer you leave it, and so it was utterly marvellous to prepare for low effort dinners. I’d call it versatile enough to even serve to guests (especially as it can be prepared well in advance), but I think that’s just because it tastes really good. The bake itself is incredibly flavoursome. Beyond simply serving it alongside this fresh, citrus based salad, I would suggest a yoghurt-based accompaniment.
Some of the ingredients (preserved lemons, za’atar, pomegranate molasses) are not exactly typical kitchen staples, but I promise that they all hang about long enough for you to experiment and experience their deliciousness in other dishes also.