This is the good stuff.

Good as in: takes 20 minutes and just a handful ingredients to create a culinary taste-explosion.  Well, explosion might be strong.  But oh my this salad is good.  Remember when I mentioned this salad, how frequently I make it, and explained that enough toppings allow this to be a whole dinner in itself, filling up the hungriest husband?  It's true.  Plus, the way I pan-roasted this salmon is hands down my favorite way to cook salmon.

Shocking revelation: it uses the cast iron skillet.  If you haven't procured one yet, here it is.  For less than $20.  Need I repeat: does not necessitate cleaning?

But again, a big thanks to the Bon Appetit pan-roasting article.  Before this, I usually cooked salmon in the oven, either on broil or just a hot temp.  That totally works, but I think the timing is just better this way.  That and I realized that salmon is meant to be eaten medium or medium-rare.  This isn't chicken, people, bright pink inside is good.

Also very important to this salad: the balsamic vinegar.  You know how 99% of balsamics have a strong acidity?  {Apparently this is due to public demand and overwhelming the market with cheap-o balsamics, but let's just not go into how weird I am and how much I read about food}  Well, this balsamic doesn't have that acidity.  None of it.  Truth.  I pour this stuff straight onto the salad, and it is amaaazing.  You can find it online, oooor you can taste test some balsamics in Whole Foods or another such lovely place that will open stuff for you.  Really good balsamic vinegar is a bit of an investment, but so so worth it in my opinion.  {In case you're not ready for the commitment, I'll also give you a balsamic vinaigrette recipe.  ok?}

This is pretty much the only other dish needed to whip up this salad: a bowl.  Did I mention the part about how it's ready in 20 minutes?  Or about how the avocado and salmon together taste kinda like sushi, which makes me infinitely happy?  Yeah, you should really give this one a try.

This recipe is for all of you who looked at the gougéres and thought "there is absolutely no way I'm making that.  And what the heck is a paddle attachment?"  Because I'm confident you can stir.  And that's all this recipe requires.

Pan-Roasted Salmon Spinach Salad
Serves 2

3/4 pound salmon (wild-caught is the best, but I just buy whatever is reasonable)
1 tablespoon oil
About 6 cups spinach (about 1/2 of 8 oz bag, which I guess would be 4 oz.  wow. me and math.)
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)- feel free to substitute another favorite nut
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup shredded parmesan
1/2 a big avocado, sliced into strips
3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar*

Set the oven to broil.  Scatter pepitas on a small baking sheet and place in the hot oven.  Allow to toast until you start to hear seeds popping (about 4-5 minutes).  Remove seeds from oven and preheat oven to 400.

Get the cast iron (or other ovenproof) skillet hot over medium-high heat.  Add oil.  Then place salmon skin side down into the pan.  Press down onto the salmon with a spatula to ensure crispy skin.  Allow salmon to cook on stove for 5 minutes.  Then place the whole skillet in the oven for another 5-8 minutes depending on thickness.  While the salmon is cooking, mix the spinach, tomatoes, pepitas, parmesan, and balsamic vinegar together.  Place the salad mixture onto plates, top with avocado slices, then with cooked salmon (when serving salmon, flip out of pan and over and you can remove the skin if desired- we usually do).

*If you have balsamic with a high acidity, mix 1/4 cup balsamic with 3 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Mix well and dress salad.  Feel free to adjust balsamic and oil amounts to your desired taste.  

Ug, making my mouth water.  Again.

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