The first course to our Dallas Uncorked auction dinner for the June Jones Foundation last weekend was this dish made from juicy, marinated salmon with fresh basil pesto, light and flaky puff pastry and an earthy, blistered tomato sauce with lots of roasted garlic. The prep takes a little time, but the beautiful presentation to start the dinner was worth it and it tasted delicious too!
Pesto Salmon En Croute with Roasted Tomato Sauce
2 pounds fresh salmon, whatever kind you like – we used a wild Atlantic that was available at our local Central Market
2 packages puff pastry (4 sheets)
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh basil pesto
30 basil leaves
¼ teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
7 Roma tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, cut into quarters
10 whole fresh basil leaves + 2 tablespoons chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
2 large eggs + 1 tablespoon water
Reduced Balsamic Vinegar Syrup for garnish (optional)
Make sure your puff pastry is cool, not frozen and ready to be worked with. If using frozen puff pastry make sure to thaw it overnight before you start cooking. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap the garlic in a piece of foil with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Lay the tomatoes out on a baking sheet without anything (no oil or seasoning). Lay the garlic wrapped in foil beside the tomatoes and place in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes, until the tomatoes have blistered and the skins are starting to peel away.
Meanwhile cut the salmon into 10 uniform pieces, so each piece is about the same size and depth. Place them in a bowl with 1/2 cup white wine and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Remove the tomatoes and pile them into a large glass bowl. Wrap a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl for the tomatoes to steam. Set the garlic aside in a medium sauce pot. When the tomatoes have cooled enough to handle carefully peel away the skin of each tomato. Cut five tomatoes in half and scoop out the inner core, seeds and any liquid into the pot with the garlic (you want to try to save as much tomato water as possible so do this over the pot.) Set the tomato halves in a pile to the side. For the remaining two tomatoes, simply cut them in half after you have removed the skin and add to the pot.
Remove the salmon from the wine and lemon juice and pat dry. Season the salmon on all sides with salt and pepper. Carefully roll out the puff pastry to about 1/4 inch thickness. Place 6 pieces of salmon, evenly spaced, onto the pastry. Add about a teaspoon of pesto (made from simply pulsing the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth – season to taste) onto the top of each piece of salmon and spread thinly to coat the top. Then cover each piece with a single half of one Roma tomato, and then top with one large basil leaf. Roll the next piece of pastry, making sure to flour the board and rolling pin so the pastry doesn’t stick, to the same thickness.
Cover the first six pieces of salmon, cutting around the edges of each piece and pinching the sides well to make sure to create a seal. You can also roll the sides up a bit and/or use a fork to pinch the sides together. Cut a small slit in the top of the pocket to let any steam escape so the puff doesn’t blow up in the oven….not a good way to start a dinner party. Place each salmon bundle on a greased baking sheet and repeat with the remaining four pieces of salmon and two pieces of puff pastry. Lay the next four pieces on a separate baking sheet and place both baking sheets in the refrigerator until ready to bake, keeping everything nice and chilled prior to baking. When ready to bake heat the oven to 425 degrees. Crack both eggs into a small bowl with a bit of water and whisk together. Brush the top of each piece of pastry to help the pastry brown on top. Place both baking sheets in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown on top.
Meanwhile, add the basil, red wine, vinegar, paste and red pepper flakes to the tomatoes, juice and garlic. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender or a food processor blend the sauce until smooth. Bring back up to a simmer and season with salt and pepper. Keep on a low simmer until ready to serve. When ready to serve place each salmon piece in the center of a large plate. Spoon the sauce around the outside of the plate and drizzle the reduced balsamic vinegar over the whole plate (optional.)