I’ve always hated the word leftovers (though it’s invisible to anyone reading this, I’ve written that first sentence three times to avoid using that word to no avail). I love the feeling of having bought, made and served just enough. Though I dutifully store away the smallest amount that remains of any dish or ingredient, I resent it. As someone who often cooks at home with an ongoing game of tupperware jenga going on in her refrigerator, it was time to reconsider how I used the (ugh) leftovers that were piling up. My attitude started to change last week when I was making papas en salsa verde. The recipe suggested serving them with refried beans. With bags of frozen beans periodically jumping at me from the freezer, crashing to the floor, and threatening to knock out one of my yorkies, I decided to defrost some of the black beans I’d already made rather than start from scratch (too late) or open a can (too bland). Having congratulated myself on completing a second recipe from my initial batch of beans, I decided to use the remaining salsa verde to try a third one for pipián verde, a tomatillo sauce combined with toasted pumpkin seeds. Perfect for the last Friday before Easter, I decide to make it again tonight to end the Lenten season. I still don’t like leftovers but I’m starting to like the idea of one dish becoming another and then another and then another…
Pumpkin Seed-Crusted Salmon with Pipián Verde
Barely adapted from Mod Mex: Cooking Vibrant Fiesta Flavors at Home by Scott Linquist and Joanna Pruess.
2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
4 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups salsa verde
6 6-7 ounce salmon fillets
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Toss the pumpkin seeds in 2 tablespoons of the oil, season lightly with salt and pepper, and spread evenly on a baking sheet until lightly brown and crisp, shaking occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside to cool. Turn the oven up to 375 degrees.
Using a blender or food processor, pulse the toasted pumpkin seeds until coarsely ground. Remove half of the seeds and spread on a plate. To make the pipian sauce, add the salsa verde to the blender and process until well blended.
Lightly brush each salmon fillet with egg whites and season with salt and pepper. Press the egg coated side with the ground pumpkin seeds.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive olive in a heavy, oven-proof non-stick skillet over medium-heat until hot. Add the salmon, crusted side down, and place the pan in the oven for 3 minutes. Using a spatula or tongs, carefully turn the fish and cook for an additional 3 minutes for medium.
While the fish is cooking, heat the pipián verde over medium until hot. Coat each plate with sauce and place each fillet on top.