While seeing the expression ‘en croûte’ may put you off, don’t give up on this gorgeous meal, it is nothing more than salmon and spinach creme baked pie. ‘En croûte’, baked in a pastry case , is an expression which comes from French (pronounced roughly ‘on kroot’) and is also well known in other language speaking countries. I am sure hearing ‘Beef Wellington’ would give you a good idea, too. However, my today’s recipe feels much lighter, and a good dash easier to make, too. If you look for something nice and simple for your Sunday dinner, or an easy to make yet impressive dish, and better yet – of a reasonable value, then here’s an idea from me – it’s gorgeous, believe me..
To serve 4, you’ll need:
350g Scottish salmon fillet (skinless, boneless)
250g fresh baby leaf spinach
300g puff pastry, ready rolled
4 tbs olive oil ( 2+2 tbsp)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp crème fraîche (I used 50% fat)
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
a half handful of sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 200 ºC.
Pour 2 tbsp olive oil on the bottom of a deep pan, heat up, add spinach, 2 tbsp water and 1/2 tsp salt.
Toss it while cooking, when it’s wilted, turn the heat off, keep aside to cool down, best in a separate bowl to prevent it from further cooking from the heat of the pan.
Meanwhile, heat a shallow pan, add the other 2 tbsp of olive oil, when hot, place the salmon fillets onto the pan, and give them a very quick bake from each side, for just a couple of seconds – I do this, to keep the fish fillets nicely juicy inside even while being baked later on. Leave the fillets rest for a short moment while you finish the spinach creme.
To do that, first squeeze out any excess water, then add 2 crushed garlic cloves and 2 tbsp plain flour. Use a blender to purée the leaves, then add 1 tbsp crème fraîche and stir well.
Roll out the chilled pastry on a large wooden board, keep it on the sheet of baking paper it was packed in. Spread cooled spinach creme all over it evenly, keeping 2-3 cm off the edges. Place the salmon fillets along one third of the pastry, endways. Then roll the pastry, starting at the side nearer the fish, helping yourself with the baking paper it’s laid on. Roll it carefully, not letting the spinach creme run out of the pastry sheet, make a nice loaf, sealing the edges with wet fingers.
Work gently with the whole lot, it’s quite fragile.
Carry the loaf over to the lined deep stone oval baking dish, or a baking tin. Carry it while still on the original baking paper, it is of great help here, too. Brush the loaf with the beaten egg, make sure it’s done evenly all over its surface – this will give it the nice golden and crisp crust you will really love. As the last bit, sprinkle a half handful of sesame seeds over the loaf.
Then just put it to bake until golden brown – for about 30 mins. When done well, take out of the oven and let cool down.
We enjoy eating it both warm, when the spinach creme is nicely mild and oozy, but also a bit colder, at room temperature if you like it a bit firmer.
Both ways are a real joy – even for the Little Person, which is fantastic, as it is also full of veg and fish goodness.