Panko and Basil Crusted Salmon

Tonight I made a fantastic salmon dish. I was inspired by a bunch of fresh basil that I found at the farm market this week. In the middle of February nothing brings back the taste of summer more than fresh basil. A container of grape tomatoes, half a side of salmon and I was on my way to an inspired meal. Easy to prepare and quick to cook in a super hot oven, you can make this any day of the week. It only takes about 20 minutes total.

Panko and Basil Crusted Salmon

Oven @ 425 degrees (if you have a pizza stone, put it on the bottom rack of your oven as it will increase the heat going into your salmon and insure a crispier crust)

1 1/2 lbs of  fresh salmon, cut into 4 fillets, skin left on
2/3 c. panko bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 T olive oil
2 T finely julienned basil
2 t. lemon zest
1 1/2 T olive oil
salt and pepper
lemon wedges

In a small bowl combine the panko, salt, pepper, 2 T olive oil, basil and lemon zest, tossing until all the crumbs are coated in the oil. Spread about one tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of a small rimmed baking sheet ( I use what is referred to as a quarter sheet pan, you can find these at restaurant supply stores and kitchen specialty stores. They are perfect for roasting fish, vegetables and even cooking brownies.) Place the salmon fillets on the sheet. brush each fillet with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then divide the crumb mixture over the fillets, gently patting it down to form the crust. Roast in the oven for ten minutes. Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest for about 3-5 minutes.  When you serve the salmon the skin will stick to the pan. Serve with lemon wedges and a tomato basil salad.

Tomato Basil Salad

This salad will do in the middle of winter. Full size tomatoes have little if any flavor in February, but the little gems known as grape tomates have a sweet snappy flavor reminiscent of summer.  Halve one pint of grape or cherry tomatoes. Toss with 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 3 T julienned fresh basil, 2 T olive oil, 1 T balsamic vinegar and 1 garlic cloved. sliced thinly. Allow to sit at room temp for about a half hour or so. Enjoy with the salmon or over sliced fresh mozzarella.