Salmon with a pumpkin seed crust, sage butter sweet potato mash, and garlicky spinach, topped with an apple cider glaze.
I know we still have another couple days, but it really feels like fall now. On the days I go to Boston for work, it’s dark when I walk to the bus in the morning and dark when I walk home from the bus at night. (Jonathan would drive me, but I enjoy this walk.) When I walk by and trigger someone’s motion sensor outdoor light, I can usually see one or two cottontail rabbits hop off into the bushes. I can hear the wind rushing through the leaves, which are already starting to turn, and I’ll be wearing a jacket, even though it’s still hot during the day. I love these crisp cold mornings and evenings of fall.
I’ve been working some extra hours at my day job this week and last week, and Jonathan’s been really helpful cooking dinner those nights. He also took me apple picking last weekend, which is probably my favorite thing ever. The picture on my About page is a picture he took the first time he took me apple picking, a couple years ago now. When they’re in season, I’ll eat at least one apple a day. I can never bring myself to eat those imported apples they sell in the supermarket during the summer, they just don’t have that same crisp and crunch as fall apples. I was so excited to go to the orchard and pick our own Honeycrisp, McIntosh, and Cortland apples.
Here’s a picture of us on the hayride out, with some dirt on my camera lens:
Some McIntosh apples:
Us squinting into the sun… it was hot out!
And we saw some bunnies at the petting zoo area of the farm:
I used to hate September because it was back to school month, and I didn’t like school. I was a good student, but I’d just rather be doing my own thing, working on my own projects. Now September is my favorite month. Foliage, apples, pumpkins… I love Christmas cookies and chocolate oranges and snow, but I really think fall is the best time of the year.
Now all of this brings us to the controversial fall question. Except now it’s more of an August question, and I’m a month too late.
Love it or hate it?
But first, another short story. I never drank coffee when I was in college or the first few years after I graduated. I didn’t like the taste, and I didn’t need the caffeine. After I’d been working a few years, I decided I wanted to try it again. I needed the energy boost. I’d always loved the smell of coffee, just not the taste. I started drinking lattes because they didn’t taste too coffee-ish to me. (I’ve since worked my way up to drinking coffee with a little bit of milk, no sugar. Two cups every morning after the gym.) So I had been drinking an iced latte a couple times a week, and then it was fall. I realized, I can finally taste the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte!
I stopped by a Starbucks on my way to work. I was so excited, I didn’t even mind the line. I took my first sip before I left the shop.
There are enough cloves in there to kill someone!
And that’s when I realized I am not a pumpkin spice person.
That’s not to say I’ll never post a pumpkin spice recipe on the blog. If you’re a fan of the PSL, don’t run for the hills just yet. But if I do create a pumpkin spice recipe, you can bet I’ll be making my own version of the recipe with cinnamon-only and recruiting some other taste testers for the actual pumpkin spice version.
I do like pumpkin itself, and I’m fine with pumpkin scones, pumpkin muffins, etc., as long as the spice isn’t too strong.
Today’s recipe was created with pumpkin seeds. Now if you wanted to up the pumpkin factor, you could mix in some pureed pumpkin with the sweet potato mash. You could also add pumpkin pie spice to the sweet potato mash or swap it out for cinnamon in the apple cider glaze.
Here are some of our ingredients: salmon fillets, pumpkin seeds, sweet potatoes, spinach, garlic, sage, and cinnamon. I used wild coho salmon. (It looks healthy when I leave the butter out of the photo, wink wink.)
Actually, even with the butter, this dinner is still pretty healthy.
First I boiled the sweet potatoes and mashed them with some sage butter.
Then I made a simple apple cider glaze.
I made a crust for the salmon with the pumpkin seeds. I seared it and finished the fish in the oven.
The spinach is sautéed with butter and garlic. So there you have it. Some pumpkin seeds, some apple cider, some warm cinnamon… a healthy fall dinner.
By the way, if you’re looking for a cozy chicken dinner, last week’s post was my highest-viewed yet. Thanks for all the support!
Are you pro or anti pumpkin spice? Have you been apple picking yet? Let me know in the comments.
Pumpkin Seed Crusted Salmon with Sweet Potato Mash
Sweet Potato Mash
- 2 sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds total), peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon chopped sage
- 1/3 cup 2% milk
- salt and pepper
Apple Cider Glaze
- 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- dash of cinnamon
- 2 (6-8 ounce) salmon fillets, skin-on
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/3 cup shelled pumpkin seeds/pepitas
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Put sweet potatoes in a pot and sprinkle with salt. Add cold water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium-high and let cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, make the apple cider glaze. Combine apple cider, maple syrup, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until glaze thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Set aside. The glaze will get thicker as it cools.
While sweet potatoes and glaze are cooking, prepare salmon. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Set up three shallow bowls or plates: one with the flour, one with the egg, and one with the pumpkin seeds. Dredge each fillet in flour on both sides, then dip the top (skinless) side of the fillet in egg, and then dip the top side in the pumpkin seeds. You can press the seeds down lightly to help them stick to the top of the salmon.
Finish sweet potato mash: Drain potatoes and mash. In a medium skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add sage and cook for about a minute, until sage gets crispy. Pour the butter and sage and the milk into the mashed sweet potatoes and stir to combine. Season to taste.
Cook salmon: Heat oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Cook salmon, seeds-side down, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully flip over fillets with a spatula. Drizzle 1 tablespoon maple syrup over the pumpkin seeds. Transfer skillet to oven and cook for 5 minutes, until fish flakes easily. (Thicker fillets will take longer. If you don’t want to flake the fish before serving, you can usually tell it’s done when you can see the white lines of fat solidifying on the side of the fillet. You can also check internal temperature, should reach 145 degrees.)
While salmon is baking, make spinach. Using the same skillet you melted the butter in for the mashed sweet potatoes, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted, stirring as it cooks down. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To serve: Divide sweet potato mash and spinach between serving plates. Top with salmon and drizzle with apple cider glaze.
Sweet potato mash can be made in advance and reheated. If you’re really in pumpkin mode, you can mix ½ cup pureed pumpkin in with the sweet potato and/or substitute pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon in the apple cider glaze.