Cooking: Tuscan Creamy Butter Salmon

tuscan creamy butter salmon sits in a pan with a wooden spatula

Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely will (and must) re-shoot these images. They are not my best work.

While ordering groceries a few weeks ago, I knew I wanted to make salmon. But I didn’t want to make salmon the way I’ve always made salmon, because although it is delicious, I had pinned so many incredible looking salmon recipes on my Pinterest, and I wanted to try my hand at cooking something that required a bit more effort.

My usual method of cooking salmon is:

  1. Thaw fish still in single packages. (I buy frozen salmon because frankly, the fresh stuff isn’t better for you, the frozen is cheaper, and the taste difference is not substantial enough to me to justify buying on a budget. I buy 1lb of salmon for $6, or 2lbs for $10 from Meijer– sometimes cheaper on sale!)
  2. Remove fish from packages, place on baking tray. Preheat oven according to package directions (perk of frozen fish if you aren’t a skilled cook: cooking instructions are included.)
  3. Place a pat of butter (just less than a tablespoon) on each fillet, salt and pepper each fillet, squeeze lemon over each fillet, place a lemon slice (I do circle slices) on top of the butter.
  4. Bake for 7-10 minutes.

And typically I make long grain and wild rice and green beans or asparagus to go with it.

But this time, I wanted something different.

salted and peppered raw salmon filets sit in a dish

I looked at these two recipes back and forth a lot: Tuscan Butter Salmon from Lauren Miyashiro at delish, and Creamy Garlic Butter Tuscan Salmon from Cafe Delites. The recipes are pretty similar, and needed mostly the same ingredients, so up until I started making them I prepared to make either one.

Ultimately I combined the two recipes.

olive oil drips from outside of the frame into a puddle in a frying pan

I started by making searing the four pieces of salt-and-peppered salmon on both sides in two tablespoons of olive oil on the stove. The Cafe Delites recipe calls for five minutes on each side, but I only needed four. When that was done, I set the salmon aside to rest while I worked on the cream sauce.

salmon sears on the stove

Next, I melted two tablespoons of butter into the oil (and the juices that came out of the fish while cooking) and fried two teaspoons of minced garlic. The Cafe Delites recipe calls for six cloves, the delish recipe calls for three cloves, but what I had on hand was a jar of minced garlic that has proven to be pretty potent. The internet tells me that half a teaspoon is equivalent to a clove, but I didn’t want garlic to overpower the dish (I’m not a huge garlic fan. I know, I know).

garlic and butter bubble on the stove

After that I added in about two thirds of a large sweet onion. The Cafe Delites recipe calls for a whole small yellow onion, but apparently drastically changing recipes to suit my preferences and what I’ve got on hand is my favorite hobby. The delish recipe doesn’t call for onion.

a knife and measuring spoon rest atop a cutting board beside diced onion and chopped tomato
onion and garlic sweat in a pan

I opted to forgo wine in my recipe, mostly because I ordered my groceries online and didn’t feel like jumping through hoops, but also because I didn’t care to buy a bottle of wine that I wouldn’t use ever again, and also because I’m not a particularly big fan of alcohol (I’m a once-or-twice-a-year-to-celebrate-a-friend’s-birthday drinker).

onion, garlic, and tomato in a pan beside a wooden spatula

At this point, I basically switched over to the other recipe, because I didn’t want to use sun dried tomatoes (I don’t care for them, but I also had only half of what the recipe called for and those were already allocated to pasta salad) and because I wanted to use heavy cream instead of half-n-half.

I added the tomatoes (this time I used campari tomatoes salted, peppered, cut in quarters; in the past I have used cherry tomatoes in halves) into the butter-onion-garlic mixture and cooked that until the tomatoes were beginning to burst.

spinach leaves

Next, I added the half cup of heavy cream which I brought to a simmer over low heat.

heavy cream is poured into a pan that contains onion, tomato, garlic, and a wooden spatula

When the sauce mixture was simmering, I added salt and pepper and then two cups of spinach, which I cooked only until wilted.

wilted spinach and tomato in a sauce with a wooden spatula

Both recipes call for Parmesan cheese, but I skipped it.

cooked salmon filets (and crumbled pieces) sit in a clear baking dish to rest

When I was done cooking, I pulled the pan off the stove and put it directly on the table (on a hot pad, of course). I placed the salmon from the other dish back into the pan and spooned a liberal amount of the sauce and veggies on top of each piece.

tucscan creamy butter salmon sits in a pan with a wooden spatula

Alongside this dish I made a can of french bread (again, what I had on hand) and it turned out to be perfect at sopping up sauce and covering with vegetables to go alongside this awesome dish.

salad in a bowl

I served this with a basic salad (lettuce, spinach, tomato) and some bread.

The final product was sweet and rich, almost nutty tasting, with the flavor of salmon shining through. It could not have turned out more perfect!

In case you need it, here’s a list of ingredients:

  • 4 salmon fillets (I used frozen)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tsp jarred garlic (or 4 cloves, if you want to use fresh)
  • Approx. 2/3rds of a large sweet onion (or a whole small sweet onion)
  • About 10 campari tomatoes (or about 1.5 cups of cherry tomatoes)
  • 3 cups spinach

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