I wish I could tell you that we ate this meal under a setting late August sun, the table set with beautiful linens and the candles lit and the conversation care-free. Instead, we ate this meal amid Cry It Out, Part II (The Bedtime Sleep Regression Edition!). Sweet Maria. Send help. Or wine. Actually, send help and wine, and cross your fingers that our champion little sleeper returns soon.
But you’re not here to read about our toddler trevails, so instead I’ll tell you about when I first started cooking this dish. It was when we lived in DC after college, when Kevin and I each lived in tiny studio apartments an eight-minute walk across Dupont Circle apart. My kitchen was a slim and shallow galley, featuring two electric burners, a small square of counter space, and electrical outlets that weren’t to be used unless a blown fuse was your thing. But it had a garbage disposal and it was mine and oh! did I love it.
It was in that kitchen, and the kitchen after that in Kevin’s and my first shared apartment, that I learned to cook. I’d cooked occasionally with my parents growing up, and I’d go on short-lived cooking benders in college, but this is where I learned to cook to feed us, day in and day out. And I proceeded to fall fast and hard for it. Suddenly, I was dog-earing food magazines, and watching cooking shows religiously, and drawing up menu plans and grocery lists I only wish I’d kept. I’d live for the day of the week when the food section would come out in the paper, and I scoured Chowhound’s homecooking board (people: it was 2003!). I’d print out recipes at work on the sly, and I’d three-hole punch the keepers and add them to the forest green binder that I kept in a kitchen drawer. Before long, I was making chicken breasts six ways to Sunday and I had mastered a mean stir fry. As I grew more adventurous I rolled out pie crusts and and stirred risottos and, eventually, started to cook fish.
I had no way of knowing it then, but this salmon dish was the perfect starter fish recipe. You simply toss cherry tomatoes in oil and slivered garlic, season and roast, letting the tomatoes soften and split. Then, once the tomatoes have begun to release their juices, you tuck a seasoned piece of salmon into the pan before roasting it all a little longer. The dish basically cooks itself, while you pull together some quinoa or farro (which you should do, because this garlic-y, burst-tomato sauce absolutely must be sopped up with something), and set the table and light the candles.
Or, while you, say, wince at the video monitor and endure the screams of your sweet baby girl (but, hey, the sunset was glorious! And outside, almost out of earshot of said screams!). (Are you here yet with that wine?) Almost a decade later, so much has changed in our lives, but this recipe remains one that I’m so glad to have up my sleeve. I figured it was time to pull it out of the green three-ring binder and share it here.
Roasted Salmon & Cherry Tomatoes
Adapted from Cooking Light
3 cups cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, thinly slices
Approximately 1-pound piece of salmon, or filets that are about 6 ounces per person
1/4 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss tomatoes, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes and garlic in a cast iron skillet (or any oven-safe pan). Roast in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Season the salmon with remaining salt and the pepper; add to the pan, nestling the salmon into the burst tomatoes. Roast an additional 10 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve the tomato mixture over fish. Drizzle with lemon juice.