The Chef's Take: Roasted Salmon with Peas and Potatoes from Kelsie Kerr
"There is a niche for really delicious, finely made takeaway food -- one that puts an emphasis on quality not just convenience," Kelsie Kerr says. A Chez Panisse alumna who worked with Alice Waters on her last two cookbooks and contributed to many of the celebrated restaurateur's other works, Kerr opened the Standard Fare, in Berkeley, Calif., to fill that hole in the marketplace this April.
Far from the average takeaway joint, the Standard Fare's meals change daily and, to befit Kerr’s cooking, each dish comes in handmade, ready-to-serve ceramic bowls. "I wanted the food to be homey but also have a mindfulness to it," she says. "The bowls I designed so you could have a beautiful thing to take the food home in. Ceramic both protects and heats the food nicely."
In Kerr's hands, eating well not only feels good but almost effortless. "I love, love veggies," she says, "and of course the first of the season's salmon is always lean, full of flavor and filled with tons of Omega-3s."
R oasted salmon with salsa verde, roasted potatoes and a pea and leek ragout is currently on the menu at Standard Fare. Not only does it reheat well but it also illustrates, in the tastiest way, what Kerr thinks simple, elegant cooking should look like.
"This certainly follows my gestalt," she says, "I like to serve lots of fresh vegetables, proteins and legumes. I like food to be wholesome. For me," she says, "wholesome means serving lots of tastes, textures, colors and flavors. You should feel sated and invigorated afterwards."
Soak capers in water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, roughly chop sorrel leaves and chervil. Transfer the herbs to a small bowl and stir in chopped parsley, lemon zest and olive oil. Next, pound garlic, with a pinch salt, to a fine paste with a mortar and pestle. Strain capers and roughly chop. Stir chopped capers and garlic paste into herb mixture. Season with salt and let the salsa verde rest while preparing salmon.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Remove pin bones from the salmon and cut fillet into 4 equal pieces. Season each fillet with salt. Place salmon on oiled baking dish and drizzle with oil. Transfer baking dish to oven and roast salmon until medium rare, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove salmon from oven and squeeze fresh lemon juice over each piece. With a spatula, gently lift salmon pieces out of tray and arrange pieces on serving platter. Spoon salsa verde over top and serve with peas and potatoes, if desired.
Trim away the root ends of the leeks and peel away any dry or dirty outer leaves. Cut away the tough upper portion of the leek, leaving only the tender white stalk.
Halve leeks lengthwise and slice each half into 1/4-inch half-moons. Plunge sliced leeks into water and shake to expunge all grit. Clean leeks again as needed until no grit remains. Lift sliced leeks out of water and transfer to a colander to drain.
Place leeks and peas in a small pot and add olive oil and just enough water to cover the vegetables. Season with salt to taste. Bring water to a boil and simmer until peas are tender, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Turn off the heat and taste for salt.
16 small or 8 medium new potatoes; Yellow Finn or German Butterball are good choices
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub potatoes in water and drain. If any potatoes are large, halve or quarter them. Place potatoes in a low-sided baking dish and toss with olive oil, a few sprigs thyme, salt and pepper. Roast 40 minutes, or until easily pierced with a sharp knife.
Kitty Greenwald is a Brooklyn-based food writer and recipe developer. She eats a lot for work and pleasure. Her column Slow Food Fast appears in the Wall Street Journal.