Pan-seared salmon with spinach, cream corn and heirloom tomatoes

I love to cook and bake and take inspiration from cooking shows, Pinterest and meals I enjoy when eating out. Sometimes I’ll follow the recipe word for word but only when I’m looking to make the exact dish or when I’m baking since that is more of a science.

Either I did something right or I just got lucky. My son is a budding foodie and will pretty much eat and enjoy anything I put in front of him. So far my daughter is eating well so we’ll soon see if I’ve raised two future foodies.

This dish caught my eye while watching one of my favorite cooking shows years ago. And my son, only a toddler then, thought it looked great and asked when I was going to make it.

I was suffering from my first bout with severe sinusitis then, which causes me to lose my sense of smell and taste for long stretches of time. This particular one lasted over a year.

Not being able to taste or smell is pretty horrible but learning the hard way that your sense of smell is also a very important internal alarm that tells you when something is burning or when the smell of gas is coming from your stove, is worse.

Still, I never stopped wanting to cook and eat great meals. I just learned to appreciate food differently.

I began to learn how to “eat with my eyes.” I’d plate each dish in an artistic way, layering the ingredients. And I’d make sure the dish had a variety of color.

Textures became even more important. I’d make sure the texture wasn’t one note but instead had a combination of smooth and crunchy, or soft and al dente.

The dish was originally made by a celebrity chef. She whipped up a simple grilled salmon and placed it atop creamed corn and then added heirloom tomatoes on top. It was beautiful, was made with two of my favorite foods (corn and tomatoes) and I could imagine the flavor combination and how it would taste.

Although simple in my explanation, I found the chef’s steps to be tricky so I modified the recipe to my skill level.

Luckily when I lose the ability to smell and taste, which is something I deal with regularly off and on, I can still identify flavor profiles – sweet, salty, spicy, lacking flavor, full of flavor – so I rely on those profiles and my knowledge of which flavors pair well with others and which seasonings are needed.

This is one of my favorite dishes to eat and make. Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps. Pour yourself a glass of wine, get in that kitchen and get ready for the restaurant quality results.

Oh, and my son gives me thumbs up each time I make it. Literally.


Pan-seared Salmon with Cream Corn, Spinach and Tomatoes



Cream Corn

4 ears of corn on the cob

3 tbsp butter

½ cup heavy cream (more if needed for consistency)

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

2-3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Salt to taste


Sautéed Spinach

3-4 packages of baby spinach

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

½ onion, thinly sliced

Salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash and cayenne pepper to taste


Pan-seared Salmon

4-6 salmon filets (skin removed)

2 tbsp unsalted butter

Salt and pepper to taste


Garlic Butter Tomatoes

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped

2-3 tbsp butter

2-3 assorted heirloom tomatoes, cut into large cubes

Salt to taste

Lemon juice from ½ of a lemon



Let’s start with the corn.

Shuck the corn, and then on a cutting board, slice off the corn kernels. I usually add a clean hand towel or napkin on top of the cutting board to help the kernels from flying all over the place.  Put the corn kernels in a bowl and then using the back of your knife, scrape the cob to get out the milky liquid that makes the cream corn taste even better.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter. Once it melts, add the flour and whisk constantly until it forms together. Add the cream and continue stirring until it thickens. Add the corn and salt and continue to stir. Don’t over salt it, fresh corn is naturally flavorful. Turn it down to low and then add the Parmesan cheese and continue to stir. Add more cream to get it to the consistency you want. It should be creamy, not watery. Add more Parmesan if you prefer yours with more of a cheesy flavor. Cover it and keep on the lowest heat just to keep it warm.

Now for the spinach.

Over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil together. Add the garlic. Stir for 1-2 minutes. Do not let it burn. Add the onions and sauté them until they are soft. Add the spinach a handful at a time and season with salt, pepper and Mrs. Dash every time you add a new bunch. Stir until the spinach is soft. About 3-5 minutes. Add cayenne pepper to taste (a few dashes should be good). It should have a hint of heat from the cayenne pepper but not be overpowering. Reduce the heat to the lowest temperature and cover it to keep it warm.

Okay, time for the salmon.

Preheat the oven to 350. I prefer to cook my salmon with the skin on but since you are layering the ingredients, it is best if you remove the skin before cooking. Season the filets with salt and pepper.

On medium heat in a frying pan, melt your butter. Once melted and the pan hot, add the salmon filets skin-side (or where the skin used to be) down.

Once the fish is cooked almost to the center of the filet, using a spatula, carefully flip each filet. Cook the other side until the remaining part of the filet is cooked. About 3 to 4 minutes per side. Spoon some of the butter from the bottom of the pan back onto the filets and then add a dash more salt and pepper to each filet. Stick the frying pan directly in the oven.

Now finally, the tomatoes.

While the fish continues to cook, in a small saucepan on medium high heat, melt the butter and add the chopped garlic. Let the garlic cook until it is soft, about 2 minutes. Do not let it burn or brown. Add your heirloom tomatoes and swirl them around in the pan.

Keep swirling the tomatoes around to coat each one. Once you see them begin to soften, remove them from the heat. Season the tomatoes with salt and fresh lemon juice. You want the tomatoes to be firm on the inside not mushy.

Take your fish out of the oven. Taste everything to make sure no additional seasoning is needed. And don’t forget to turn everything off.

Get out your pretty plates and let’s plate the dish.

Spinach first in the center of the plate, then the creamed corn. Add one salmon filet on top of the corn and then spoon some of the tomatoes on and around the fish. Spoon some of the sauce from the tomatoes onto the salmon.

Voila! Colorful and tasty. Enjoy!



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