We’ve partnered with Brooke Bass of Chocolate + Marrow and Washington-based Columbia Winery to celebrate the bounty of the Pacific Northwest through a series of dinner recipes. Each dish features a twist—a progression from a classic or a new approach using time-tested ingredients.
Today: Catching your own Alaskan salmon means a summer full of new recipes.
I am no master angler by any means. I’m more of a spit-on-my-bait-and-pray-something-bites kind of person.
Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But, on my recent trip to Alaska (where, I fully admit, I had a lot of help from someone who was much more adept at fishing), my trick came through for me and I reeled in a gorgeous 20-pound King salmon, which I had flash frozen and overnighted to my house in Portland, Oregon.
Since then, my husband and I have been eating salmon—and I do mean a lot of salmon—every which way we can imagine. Smoked and smeared on bagels with cream cheese, pan-seared and served alongside roasted potatoes—even cured in beets with gorgeous hues of pink (you get the picture).
But one recipe—a warm bread salad—has become a staple in our house this season thanks to its easy preparation, filling qualities, and use of versatile early summer produce. I drew inspiration from panzanella, a classic warm bread and tomato salad that hails from Tuscany. Rather than serve it with raw tomatoes, cucumbers, and a vinaigrette as is traditionally done, I’ve paired it with roasted tomatoes, zucchini, and hot smoked salmon. The roasted vegetables—which can also be grilled if your house is just too hot to cook inside—offer a hint of smokiness, while the hot smoked salmon gives it a distinct meatiness. (Plus, its flavors remind me of a traditional bagel with lox, except piled high with vegetables and served in salad form.) The dressing, a creamy mess made of dill, Champagne vinegar, and crème fraîche, adds bright notes and a bit of silky richness.
While I love serving salads like this at summer dinner parties, there are two things about them that I tend to struggle with: keeping the presentation from getting messy and the ingredients fresh after the dressing has been added. What I recommend doing to remedy both of these pain points is present the salad by placing the bread at the bottom of the bowl and layering the vegetables on top, reserving a small column in the bowl for each ingredient. Organize ingredients by hue next to one another to create an ombré effect as you build the dish in the bowl, going from darkest to lightest in color.
I also like to reserve the final step—tossing the salad with the dressing—for the table. This keeps your vegetables fresh from the oven, but it also makes for an interactive presentation, which you can do while your guests pass wine around the table. When entertaining groups in the summer, I like to pick a wine that is light enough to have before a meal but can also take the transition to dinner and pairing with food. Columbia Winery’s Composition Red—made with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah grapes—has soft tannins and balanced acidity perfect for a light salad or vegetable-centered meal made with a creamy dressing.
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
4 tablespoons crème fraîche (or Greek yogurt)
2 tablespoons dill, chopped finely
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad:
6 slices rustic bread
Extra-virgin olive oil, for coating bread and vegetables
1 pound zucchini (about 2 to 3 zucchinis), stemmed and sliced lengthwise
2 cups cherry tomatoes (about 1 pint)
8 large green onions, sliced in half lengthwise
Sea salt, to taste
8 ounces hot smoked salmon, broken into bite-sized cubes
Dill, for garnish
Photos by Brooke Bass
With an elegant balance of fruit-driven flavors and a firm acidity, Columbia Winery makes wines that are well-suited to complement a variety of meals and entertaining occasions.