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As we move closer to the glorious warmer months in Maine, eating simple, fresh meals will be even more appealing. I am all about winter stews, soups and hearty braises, but come spring and summer, I want quick, lightly seasoned and colorful meals.

And while I love nothing more than a day spent cooking in the kitchen with the music blasting and various pots simmering, when it comes down to it, I’d rather get outside on nice days without compromising my love of cooking and eating well. Washing dishes by hand (I still do not own a dishwasher—not by choice!) takes up roughly two to three hours of my week—I’m not joking! So I’m always intrigued by new, more efficient ideas to cook with less mess. After all, three hours a week every week washing dirty dishes equates to nearly 40 hours of time I could spend outside in the already very short summer season in Maine.

This one-dish meal is a single serving, but it can easily be doubled or tripled by using a 9-inch baking pan. What I like most about this kind of meal is that it leaves plenty of room for experimentation. The following recipe is merely the blueprint, but of course you could use any hardy greens in place of the spinach (kale, chard, escarole) and certainly a wide variety of seasoning, herbs and garnishes. I hope the recipe inspires you to make an original one-dish meal on your own.

SPINACH + SALMON + EGG BAKE

1 fillet of salmon
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
4 cups spinach or leafy green, chopped to your liking
1 small shallot, minced (garlic could also work)
1 lemon wedge and juice of lemon
optional herbs: rosemary, basil, thyme
salt and pepper  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat bottom of small baking dish with oil or butter (or both!). Layer dish with leafy green, season with salt and pepper, squeeze of lemon. Sprinkle either minced shallot or garlic over top of spinach. Place salmon filet on top of spinach to one side, and crack the egg on the other side. Season salmon with option herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, and more salt and pepper. Bake dish for 20-30 minutes, or until internal temperature of salmon reaches 140 degrees. Let sit for a few minutes before eating.

Serve with lemon wedge and optional aioli (a simple mayo and sriracha will do) or garnish with chopped parsley.

Claire Jeffers lives in Portland and works as a freelance writer and communications strategist. Follow her adventures on Instagram: @claireinmaine.

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