Endless summer in Austin…

…sort of has me down.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re way better off than we were last year at this time — after 2011’s vicious wild fires and 70 days over 100 degrees — but I’ve been hankering for one of my favorite Fall recipes for weeks now and with temps hanging in the upper 80’s … well, it ain’t Fall around here yet.

Not sure how I came to associate  a pan stew of white beans, fennel and tomato with a crisp Fall day; but when the temps start to dip, that Provencal styled dish figures prominently in my Fall fare mix … a bowl of chili, lamb shanks & porcini-morel mushroom risotto, and white beans provencal (along side the braised or roasted protein of your choice).

I could stand it no longer…

Yesterday — while spinning Ella’s Rodgers and Hart Song Book for the coming series review — I tripped across this Fennel-seed crusted salmon dish in the deep dark recesses of my recipe database.

I decided I couldn’t wait any longer … this recipe could be recast as an Indian Summer variation of my “fall classic” fetish dish and in the end it definitely sated my white bean/fennel Provencal jones.

There was no attribution on the faded, dog eared  paper recipe, but  after digging around the aether-webs a bit, I found what clearly looks like the seed recipe for this dish up on EatingWell.com. I don’t recall dropping into their site but the date on the recipe is 2006 so who knows.

I didn’t change the recipe much — a couple of minor preference tweaks (noted below) — and I strongly recommend this dish. The white bean-fennel pan stew is aromatic goodness, very  tasty and would also be an awesome side for osso bucco or any number of roasted proteins … I will definitely take this recipe far beyond salmon as the cold weather settles in (soon please!).

In the meantime, give this dish a go and join me in my white bean-fennel fall food fetish!

Fennel-crusted Salmon with White Beans
Serves: 4
  • 5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 bulb fennel, halved, cored and thinly sliced, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional if you want to add a picante edge)
  • 2 15-ounce cans white beans, rinsed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced OR a pint of cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • ⅓ cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I prefer green peppercorn Dijon)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 4 pieces of salmon fillet (~6oz portions), skin removed
  1. Salt both sides of salmon portions and set aside for at least 15 minutes prior to cooking.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced fennel; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 6 minutes (Add red pepper half way through fennel sauté if using). Stir in beans, tomatoes and wine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat; stir in some of the chopped fennel fronds, mustard and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cover to keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, combine fennel seeds and the remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl; sprinkle evenly on both sides of salmon (additional pepper to taste).
  4. Add the remaining 3 teaspoons oil to a non-stick sauté pan and heat over med-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the salmon, skinned-side up, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the salmon over, and cook another 2 - 3 minutes (or to your doneness preference … very dependent on the thickness of the filets).
  5. Server the salmon filets over the warm bean mixture divided into warm individual serving bowls. Optionally transfer the salmon to a cutting board and flake with a fork into large chunks and serve over bean mixture with warm crusty bread … sort of like a country stew.
  6. Garnish with additional chopped fronds.