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Honestly, May was a whirlwind. But we’re finally back into our routine after some much welcomed family time and it feels good. It was nice to dine out night after night and show our fam the delicious and exciting eats that our beloved city, Raleigh, has to offer. But after a while all I want is home cooking; I crave cutting my own vegetables, blending my own flavors, and plopping onto the couch to enjoy them.
And then there’s that euphoric feeling of grilling at home on the deck.
Nothing makes me happier than standing out on a deck and grilling in the glow of the late afternoon. It’s euphoric. Add to that a nice al fresco dinner with wine and good company, and I’m in my truest happy place.
In my mind, this cedar plank salmon, rubbed with herbs and garlic, served over roasted fennel and broccoli rabe salad screams for that exact scenario.
Cedar Plank Salmon With Fennel and Broccoli Rabe Salad.
When I hear “herb and garlic”, my mind goes straight to artificially flavored things—like cream cheeses, crackers, flavoring powders, dry rubs, etc. But in this recipe, herbs and garlic are used in their purest and punchiest forms. I’m talking fresh garlic muddled with fresh basil, rosemary, and thyme snipped straight from the garden.
And then there’s the whole fennel and broccoli rabe situation, which is straight up fabulous in the most simple and approachable way.
I’ve known about this ingredient for years from watching cooking shows and thumbing through frilly cookbooks, but I hadn’t used it myself until very recently.
I think the common comparison to “black licorice” threw me off. Not because I dislike the flavor, but I had a hard time envisioning it in a dish. Eventually I just bit the bullet and snagged one from the produce section at my local grocer; it was staring at me and, working as a food blogger, I felt as if I should get to know this dang plant once and for all. How could I have worked with things like jackfruit, sea beans, and romanesco, but never fennel?
So here’s the deal: fennel is fabulous. The hint of black licorice is just that—a hint. It’s more faint than anise; it’s refreshing, crisp, and it pairs wonderfully with citrus fruits and briny mediterranean flavors, like kalamata olives.
One of my favorite things about fennel is that it’s a heart-healthy veg with strong anti-inflammatory nutrients like folate and vitamin C. It also protects against bone loss with vitamin K, it improves digestion with it high levels of fiber, and it’s an immune system booster.
Toss it with some nutrient-dense broccoli rabe, serve it with some flaky omega-3-rich salmon, and you’ve got a powerhouse.
A delicious, mouthwatering powerhouse.
See a detailed how-to on how to grill fish on a cedar plank here.
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Cedar Plank Salmon With Roasted Fennel and Broccoli Rabe Salad
- 1 cedar plank, soaked for 1-2 hours prior to use.
- 4 6 oz fillets of salmon
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1.5 tsp chopped fresh basil
- 1.5 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp Cracked black pepper
- 4 slices of lemon
- Fennel fronds, for garnish
Roasted Fennel and Broccoli Rabe Salad.
- 2 fennel bulbs, sliced into 1/4-inch slices You don't have to be exact with the measurement of fennel slices, but you don't want to shave the fennel since we're roasting it.
- 2 cups grape tomatoes
- 1 cup kalamata olives
- 1 bunch of broccoli rabe, roughly chopped (ends trimmed and discarded)
- 1-2 TBSP olive oil
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges.
- Soak your cedar plank for 1-2 hours before use. (You can soak it in plain water or kick things up a notch by soaking it in wine or cider!) Once the plank is ready, remove it from the liquid, dry it off, and set it aside.
- Preheat your oven to 450° F and your grill to medium heat, about 350° F.
- Remove your salmon from the fridge and pat your fillets dry with a paper towel. Let the salmon sit out and come to room temperature; this ensures an even cook. This should take about 15 minutes. (Don't put the salmon on the cedar plank yet; you need to place the plank on the grill solo first. Keep the salmon on a portable surface, like a plate.)
- In the meantime, in a small bowl, mix together the minced garlic, basil, thyme, rosemary, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Evenly spoon this mixture over the salmon fillets and, with clean hands, gently press the rub into the fillets; set aside.
- Place the fennel, tomatoes, olives, and broccoli rabe into a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss the salad with your (clean!) bare hands, gently massaging the oil into the broccoli rabe leaves. (The florets don't need to be massaged.) You can add a bit more oil if needed. Once the salad is well tossed, spread it out over a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes burst and the fennel is tender. Stir halfway through cooking time.
- Once you put the salad in the oven, place the cedar plank on the grill by itself and let the plank sizzle and crackle for about 30 seconds. Then, carefully transfer the salmon fillets from plate to plank. Place a lemon slice on each fillet. Cover, and let the fillets cook for about 12-15 minutes, checking for doneness at the 12 minute mark. You want your fillets to have an internal temp of 140° - 145° F. (The fillets will continue to cook after being removed from the heat; an ideal internal temperature at serving time is 145° F.)
- With grilling gloves or hefty oven mitts, carefully remove the plank from the grill.
- Plate your fennel and broccoli rabe salad, place fillets on top, sprinkle with fennel fronds, and serve; squeeze fresh lemon juice over your plate before digging in for an extra punch of bright and fresh flavors.