Crispy, Lemony Sheet Pan Salmon
Plus: The Four Questions with Rachel Phipps and a Shavuot Subscription Sale!
Hey The Jewish Table readers!
In this week’s newsletter, I have a super simple, high impact recipe for Crispy, Lemony Sheet Pan Salmon for your Shavuot (or early summer) tables. I’m also thrilled to feature food writer Rachel Phipps in this week’s The Four Questions interview.
But before we dive in: it has been *busy* here at The Jewish Table! If you aren’t yet subscribed to the weekly newsletter, here is everything you missed last month:
Cinnamon Almond Rugelach that are essentially tiny, perfect almond croissants. Plus: That time my 7-year old, Max, schooled me on pastry knowledge.
A Creamy Spinach Soup that tastes like distilled springtime. Plus: the latest installment of my “Adventures in Cooking my Cookbook Collection” series.
Black & White Banana Bread Cookies aka the iconic Jewish cookie-quick bread hybrid you definitely need in your life!
Ruth Reichl’s Matzo Brei recipe vs. my matzo brei recipe. Break out your leftover Passover matzo to decide which one you like best.
I also introduced a new feature: The Friday Kibbitz, where paid subscribers get to weigh in about their signature dishes, their favorite cookbooks, their secret ingredients, and more. It’s been incredible to hear from *you* and see folks from this newsletter community interact and share ideas - and there’s lots more in store!
Here’s the bottom line: Writing this newsletter every week is a joy. But it is also part of my job, and I rely on paid subscribers to keep it going. If you have been on the fence about hopping over to a paid subscription, now is a great time! For the next 2 days (until Friday, June 3), you can get 20% off an annual or weekly subscription to The Jewish Table. Don’t miss out on this special offer: subscribe to the weekly newsletter here!
Shavuot Recipe: Crispy, Lemony Sheet Pan Salmon
The Jewish holiday of Shavuot is coming up this weekend and, to be honest, that didn’t always mean very much to me. Despite it being a “kind of a big deal” holiday (it commemorates the story of God revealing the Torah to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, and is also an ancient pilgrimage festival that marks the beginning of the wheat harvest in ancient Israel), I didn’t really grow up celebrating it. My family went hard on the Passover traditions, but Shavuot must have gotten lost in the early summer shuffle.
Over the years I have come to love Shavuot, especially the tradition of staying up all night (not that I can actually do that these days!) reading the Book of Ruth and studying other Jewish texts. I also love the mystical practice my husband’s family taught me of going outside right at midnight because, for the briefest of moments, the sky splits open and one can make direct appeals to the heavens.
And, of course, I love that Shavuot’s menu is focused around cheesecake, sweet cheese blintzes, cheesy noodle kugels, all things dairy-related. There are various theories about why Jews celebrate Shavuot with dairy foods, but my favorite is that Mount Sinai’s alternative name, Har Gav’nunim (“mountain of majestic peaks”) sounds similar to the Hebrew word for cheese, gevinah. Is the connection a little far fetched? Sure - but I’m not arguing.
This time of year, the Jewish corners of social media light up with recipes for cheesecake and blintzes. So I figured I’d do something a little different and offer a festive salmon dish to serve with all that cheesy goodness.
Like all sheet pan dishes, this roasted salmon is simple to make and quick to clean up. But from the caramelized cauliflower and golden potatoes, to the crunchy, buttery, lemony, herby (I could go on) bread crumb topping coating the fish, it is a knockout. Serve it for Shavuot if you celebrate, or for your inaugural “summer dinner on the back porch” if you don’t!
Crispy, Lemony Sheet Pan Salmon
This recipe can easily be doubled - just use a second sheet pan and rotate the sheets top-to-bottom when you add the salmon.
1 pound new potatoes, halved
1/2 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 thinly-sliced lemon rounds
1/2 cup (55 g) Panko bread crumbs (gluten free is fine)
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried dill)
1 packed teaspoon grated lemon zest
4 6-ounce salmon fillets (skin on or off)
Preheat the oven to 425˚F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper (or use a non-stick sheet pan). In a large bowl, combine the potatoes and cauliflower. Drizzle the olive oil over top, season generously with salt and pepper and mix well to combine.
Spread the mixture evenly over the sheet pan and top with the lemon rounds. Roast, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are starting to brown and almost cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the bread crumbs, shallots, melted butter, dill, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl.
Remove the sheet pan from the oven and use a spatula to push the vegetables to one side of the pan. Add the salmon to the pan (skin-side down if using skin-on fillets). Sprinkle the salmon pieces lightly with salt and pepper, then divide the bread crumb mixture among the pieces of fish, gently mounding it on top.
Continue roasting until the fish is opaque and cooked through and the vegetables are fully cooked and golden, 10 to 12 minutes (depending on thickness). Serve hot, straight from the sheet pan, or transfer vegetables and fish to a serving platter if preferred.
The Four Questions: With Rachel Phipps
Welcome to the latest installment of The Four Questions, The Jewish Table’s semi-regular interview segment featuring Jewish food luminaries. This time I’m delighted to be joined by Rachel Phipps - a UK-based food and travel writer, recipe developer, cookbook author, and host of the Substack newsletter: ingredient, where she takes a deep dive into the ingredients - everything from radishes, to sumac, to matzo meal (psst, I’m featured in that letter!) - that make our meals so delicious.
Here Rachel talks candidly about her love of fried gefilte fish balls, her Jewish food awakening, which arrived in the shape of chocolate chip challah, and why humble rollmops deserve more love than they get.
1. How would you describe your relationship to Jewish food, and how has it evolved?
Honestly, my relationship to Jewish food is the only part of my Jewish identity I've never struggled with. My mother married out, and I went to a Church of England boarding school, so obviously I've never kept kosher. It took until I was an adult to embrace my 'Jewishness' and properly appreciate our culture and my roots. But with the exception of chopped herring, I've adored almost every 'Jewish' eat I've had put in front of me.
One of the highlights of my grandparents’ visits as a child was that they'd bring challah, fried gefilte fish balls, Viennas and wurst with them from the kosher supermarket in London. Ma-ma would also make our family recipe for lockshen pudding when she visited, which was always one of my favourites. As I got older and started to want to learn more about being Jewish (without much interest in the synagogue), I began teaching myself how to make classic dishes I'd never had as a child (like latkes, matzo brei and rugelach) out of Jewish cookbooks. Now I cook Jewish recipes several times a month at home.
2. Can you share a favorite Jewish food discovery you've made during one of your many travels?
Growing up, the Jewish food I ate was the very simple, very plain, very Ashkenazi food my grandparents used to eat. As a study abroad student at UCLA, a couple of classmates were involved with the campus chapter of Nazun (a Jewish anti-hunger organization, formerly called Challah for Hunger). They usually had a baking session before class, and one day they brought with them a chocolate chip and cinnamon challah, warm from the oven. I can still remember the taste of that soft, rich, sweet, gooey bread, more like a babka whilst still very much being a loaf of challah.
For 19 year old me, who had only just started writing about food, this was a game changer. I'd never baked my own challah, and the idea that you could enjoy it made with something other than a simple egg and poppy seed glaze opened up for me that Ashkenazi food could be just as wonderful as the Ottolenghi-inspired food that I (along with everyone else) had just started to become obsessed with.
Rollmops. I know rollmops are popular across Scandinavia, and whilst I have a soft spot for Icelandic-style pickled herrings, I'm still desperately seeking a brand I can regularly get my hands on that tastes “Jewish.” I love that I'm starting to see pickled herrings and rollmops more and more on restaurant menus, but they're rarely done in the Jewish style or are acknowledged as a Jewish classic. I recently developed a recipe for potato salad with rollmops that is packed with traditional Jewish flavours.
4. What project do you have in the pipeline that people should keep an eye out for?
I'm about to start the terrifying process of trying to sell my first novel to a publisher! I started writing it at the same time as I wrote my second cookbook, One Pan Pescatarian, so fingers crossed that it might appear at some point! Otherwise, at the moment I'm focusing on growing my newsletter, and keeping my blog updated with new recipes.
THANK YOU Rachel for sharing your story! Find out more about Rachel on her website, Instagram, or at her newsletter, and check out her book One Pan Pescatarian: Delicious Veggie, Vegan, and Fish Dinners.