This is my modified weeknight version of Louisiana chef Paul Prudhomme’s classic and legendary blackening technique. Traditionally you dip the protein, typically redfish, in melted butter and then in a mix of spices (a sort of local Louisiana masala) that often includes dry mustard, ground garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper. When the protein is seared in a roaring-hot (usually cast-iron) pan, the butter and spices almost form a crust, giving the fish a charred and spicy exterior. To save some steps and make this a complete meal, I sift the spices evenly over olive oil–drizzled fish instead (if you don’t have a strainer or sieve, sprinkle the spices directly over the fish) and then roast it with some Tuscan kale on a sheet pan. The sturdy kale leaves pack a taste that makes me think of leafy spinach mixed with a stronger mystery cousin. The kale absorbs the olive oil, which makes it tender, and then it is tossed with vinegar and lime juice, a tip I learned from food guru J. Kenji López-Alt.
The garlicky spinach is a simple side dish to fit into any meal. You can also use it as the base for a salad and top it with roasted chicken, meat or fish. Add some roasted nuts for crunch or Parmesan cheese for richness. Or, just keep it super simple…
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Set an oven rack in the lower-middle position.
Prepare the salmon: In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, dry mustard, and oregano and set aside. Use 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to grease a sheet pan. Place the salmon, skin-side down, on a flat surface and season it with salt. Drizzle the salmon with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Transfer the spice mixture to a small fine-mesh sieve or strainer and sift an even layer of the spices over the salmon. Arrange the fillets skin-side down on the prepared sheet pan, leaving space between them.
Prepare the kale: In a medium bowl, massage the kale with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. The oil will actually tenderize the kale. Add the garlic and season the salt; toss together and arrange it all around (but not covering) the fish on the pan.
Cook the salmon: Place the pan on the lower-middle rack and roast for 10 to 12 minutes for medium to medium-rare salmon. (For well-done fish, leave it in the oven for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.) Remove the pan from the oven and drizzle the honey over the fish. Then sprinkle all of the lime zest and juice over the fish and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
While the salmon roasts, cook the spinach: Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. "Spear" the garlic clove on the tines of a fork. When the oil is hot and begins to smoke lightly, add the spinach and cook in the oil, stirring with the fork, 30 seconds. By stirring the spinach with the garlic clove on the end of the fork, it imparts a garlic flavor without overwhelming the spinach. Stir in salt and black pepper and remove the skillet from the heat. Stir until the spinach loses half its volume. Sprinkle with the red wine vinegar. Serve immediately with the salmon.