Six O’Clock Solution: Dress up a salmon with gremolata crust

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Fish is a key part of the Mediterranean diet and Montreal dietitian Vanessa Perrone offers a variety of fast and easy fish recipes in her authoritative cookbook Everyday Mediterranean (Appetite by Random House, $32.95; in stores Dec. 26).

The tale of this diet has become well known, dating back over 60 years to when University of Minnesota physiologist Ancel Keys produced his Seven Countries Study. It showed that men who ate less meat, fish and animal fat and more fruit, vegetables, beans and lentils cut their incidence of heart disease. Perrone’s book explains the eating style, the Mediterranean diet pyramid, the use of olive oil instead of butter and “going Mediterranean” daily on its more than 90 recipes, handsomely photographed by Ariel Tarr.

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This recipe dresses up the salmon fillet with a chopped topping and a companion salad. Cleanup is easy; the fish is cooked on a baking sheet.

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Baked salmon with gremolata crust

Serves 6

6 fillets of salmon (680 g/1-1/2 pounds total)

2 teaspoons (10 mL) Dijon mustard

1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley

½ cup (125 mL) dry breadcrumbs or panko

1 garlic clove, minced

Zest (grated peel) of ½ orange, plus thin slices or segments

Zest (grated peel) of ½ lemon, plus thin slices or segments

1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced

½ cup (125 mL) olives

Spread a cookie or baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place salmon fillets on baking sheet and brush each one with mustard.

In a bowl, combine parsley, breadcrumbs, garlic, orange and lemon zest, oil, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir to moisten the breadcrumbs evenly.

Pat an equal amount of the parsley mixture on each salmon fillet, pressing it so it sticks to the mustard. (This step may be done an hour or more in advance.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Slice fennel thinly.

Bake fish uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is opaque in the centre and flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Serve each salmon fillet with some of the orange and lemon slices, the sliced fennel and the olives.

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