Wild Alaska Salmon with Chimichurri & Roasted Root Vegetables

Heidi Drygas Salmon Chimichurri 4

I’m a bit salmon obsessed of late, and for good reason.  You see, after an extremely successful fishing trip in Valdez’s Prince William Sound, I’m a bit salmon-heavy at my house.  And frankly, that’s putting it lightly.

It comes down to this: if I don’t eat all this salmon, I can’t fit anything else in my freezer.  No ice cream.  No frozen pizza (Newman’s Own Pepperoni- my favorite!)  None of those frozen balls of cookie dough I buy from every kid’s fundraiser (delicious frozen little balls of dough…why bother baking them?) And no room for any wild Alaska game that I beg, borrow, and steal from friends and coworkers to round out my food supply for the winter.

Yes, I KNOW there’s a Fred Meyers around the corner from my house.  That’s not the point.

I just like having a lot of food IN my house.  It’s hard-wired in my DNA.

Heidi Drygas Salmon Chimichurri 2

So when my friend David Waldron contacted me about another interview for public radio, I knew exactly what to make.  Our conversation went something like this:

David: “I’m thinking of a fall theme.  How about soup?”

Heidi: “Great!  But we’re going to have salmon.”

David: “Pot roast is great, too.  But I love soup.”

Heidi:  “Awesome.  Salmon it is!”

Good thing David’s a good sport, and loves salmon.

Heidi Drygas Salmon Chimichurri 3

We traveled to a local farmers’ market to gather up beautiful, freshly-harvested vegetables for roasting along with the salmon.  The market was spotted with jewel-colored carrots, beets, and potatoes.  I said to David, “You eat with your eyes first!” and gathered up my colorful crop.

Back at my house, I scrubbed, sliced, and seasoned away in my tiny little kitchen, while chatting with David and cursing at Milo for constantly squeaking his toy at David’s feet.  By the time we finally sat down to eat what I had concocted, I had forgotten the mic was even there.  Three hours after we meet at the farmer’s market, I sent David home with dinner for his wife.

It was really fun.

And you know what’s the kicker?  This just may be one of the best salmon meals I’ve ever made.  The salmon and the veggies are delicious on their own, but the chimichurri sauce added an intense burst of flavor, while also tying the entire dish together.  And for me, nothing says fall like a pile of sweet, tender, carmelized roasted root vegetables, at the peak of their freshness when the thermostat starts dipping and the leaves begin to fall.

Heidi Drygas Salmon Chimichurri 4

See more recipes at chenagirlcooks.blogspot.com

Alaska Salmon with Chimichurri Sauce

Serves 4

For the chimichurri sauce:
(Adapted from Simply Recipes)

1 cup (packed) fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, stems removed
3-4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons fresh Oregano leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
a few grinds of black pepper

For the salmon:
(Adapted from Barefoot Contessa)

Four wild Alaskan salmon fillets, skin and pin bones removed (about 4-6 ounces each)
olive oil
kosher salt
a few grinds of pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place all ingredients for the chimichurri sauce in a food processor and pulse until just combined- you still want the sauce to retain a “chunky” look. If you don’t have a food processor, finely mince the herbs and garlic and toss with the other ingredients. Set aside while salmon is cooking.

Heat a dry oven-proof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Rub each of the salmon fillets with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. When the pan is hot, place the salmon presentation-side down (usually the top of the fillet) and let sear without moving them for two minutes. Turn the fillets over and place the pan in the oven for 4-5 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked but still a little pink inside. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE SALMON. Best to err on the side of rare!

Roasted Root Vegetables
Serves 4

8-10 small carrots
2 medium beets of any variety, peeled and sliced into 8 wedges
4-6 small red and yellow waxy potatoes

This recipe is more of a method than an exact science. You can use any combination of root vegetables. I particularly love using sweet potatoes and parsnips, and will often throw in butternut squash as well.

Start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees.

Scrub veggies well. Peel the beets and slice into 8 wedges each. Leave the skins of the carrots and potatoes on if you prefer- I certainly do. Cut stems and roots of carrots and leave whole if they are small, cut in half if they are big. Cut potatoes into rough 1 inch cubes.

Place all the veggies on a baking sheet. Make sure you only have enough veggies to cover a single layer without overlap- this way the veggies roast instead of steam. Toss all veggies with one to two tablespoons of olive oil, a heavy pinch of kosher salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) and several grinds of fresh black pepper. Bake for 30-35 minutes, turning once about halfway through. Finish with a final dash of salt (I love sel gris!) if you prefer, and serve HOT!

xo H

Heidi was born and raised in Fairbanks, and grew up in and around the waters of the Chena River. She graduated with a degree in History from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and received her law degree from Willamette University. A lawyer by day and self-taught home cook at night, she is passionate about cooking and creating tasty, uncomplicated food. She is also a firm believer in buying local produce and products whenever possible, and is an avid fisherwoman. She currently lives in Anchorage with her trusty terrier, Milo.


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