When my husband and I were in Edinburgh last year, we had some spectacular meals. Being that there is no fresh salmon in the middle of the United States where I live, I jump at every chance to enjoy fish and seafood that’s only hours out of the sea. So in Scotland, I ate a lot of salmon.
At one restaurant, this is what I ordered. It’s not the best photo, but it was grilled salmon sitting on a bed of potato mash, on top of a pesto sauce.
The salmon was perfectly cooked and delicious, but what got me most excited was the potato mash. It was full of chunky pieces of Kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes! I’ve added things to mashed potatoes before, like chorizo and corn, but I’ve never made them Greek or Mediterranean style. But now I do!
In the 80’s, nouvelle cuisine was all the rage, and it seemed like every recipe in Gourmet and Food and Wine Magazine had sun-dried tomatoes and pesto in the list of ingredients. Being a bit on the obstinate side, I refused to use these ingredients in my cooking.
But over the last 30 years I’ve mellowed a bit, and honestly, I love sun-dried tomatoes. They have a delicious flavor that is different from even a roasted tomato. And traditional pesto? Love it! I make huge batches of pesto every summer because I can grow trees of basil where I live.
If you’ve never made pesto before, here is the link to making it in mass quantities.
But back to my meal. I recently came across the above photo of my meal, and I decided to recreate it, mostly so I can have the delicious mashed potato side again. Hope you like it too!
Grilled Salmon served with Mediterranean-Style Mashed Potatoes and Pesto Sauce
2 pounds white potatoes, I left mine unpeeled
4 ounces of halved Kalamata olives
4 ounces sun-dried tomato pieces*
1 tablespoon dried sweet basil
1 stick butter, at room temperature, or chopped into pieces
1/2 cup or more goats’ milk
4 salmon filets, rinsed, patted dry
1/3 cup pesto, without cheese, or about 1 cup purchased pesto
Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, chop up the potatoes into fairly small, uniform pieces. When the water is boiling, add the potatoes and cook them until tender.
Meanwhile, place the olives and sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and add the sweet basil.
When the potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander, then quickly turn them into a large bowl. Add the butter and about 1/2 cup of goats’ milk, and mash the potatoes up with a potato masher, gradually incorporating the butter and milk.
Then add the olives, sun-dried tomatoes and basil, and fold them in gently. Add a little more goats’ milk if necessary. Set aside, but cover to keep warm.
Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 filets at a time and cook the first side at least 1 minute; the salmon should be nicely browned. Turn the filets over, reduce the heat, and cook them for about 5 minutes, until done through. Of course, the cooking time will depend on how thick your salmon filets are.
Keep the two filets warm while you cook the remaining two.
Warm your pesto (remember mine contains no cheese) and thin with a little bit of goats’ milk. (See note below.)
To serve, using a ring, form the potato mash into a cylindrical shape.
Then gently and carefully place the cylinder of mash by pushing slightly onto one of four serving plates.
Carefully drizzle the thinned pesto sauce around the base of the potato mash, then top the mash with the grilled salmon. Continue with the remaining three servings.
* For this recipe, I used halved sun-dried tomatoes that were preserved in oil, and drained the oil first before using. If you only happen to have sun-dried tomatoes in a package, they can easily be hydrated in warm water. It only takes about 5 minutes – just make sure they’re chewable before draining them, then proceed with the recipe.
note: You don’t have to use goats’ milk at all for this recipe. Regular cream is fine, or milk if you prefer. I just happen to love the flavor of goats’ milk and it adds a goat cheese flavor, which is lovely in mashed potatoes.
another note: I had some of these mashed potatoes left over, and when I reheated them the next day, they didn’t taste as good. There’s something about reheated Kalamata olives that I didn’t like, but I can’t figure out why.
verdict: I will definitely be making this style of mashed potatoes again. They’re indescribably good, and not pretentious. Cheers to sun-dried tomatoes and pesto!!!