The arrival of artichokes at the market is plenty reason to celebrate! For a white-tablecloth luncheon or dinner party, I adore the painterly pastel colors of this delicate dish. Feather light without being flimsy, it features crisp salmon in a vibrant saffron infusion surrounded by artichoke hearts. This dish is flexible enough that you can substitute any mild fish such as halibut, red snapper, or John Dory. If using fresh artichoke hearts is too much fuss, you can use frozen ones as a shortcut. I like to serve roasted potatoes scattered on the plate for an elegant one-dish meal.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 quart low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon saffron (about 3 pinches)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium artichokes or 12 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
4 (4 to 6-ounce) boneless and skinless salmon fillets
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced small
1. Prepare the saffron broth: In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the shallots, garlic, and celery. Cover and cook the mixture until it is soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken broth and saffron and simmer until reduced to 1 cup, about 25 minutes. Strain into a clean pan and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as desired. The broth can be made up to this point, cooled, and refrigerated overnight.
2. Trim 1/2-inch off of each artichoke stem and steam the artichokes whole until they are tender. Remove all the leaves, scoop out the hairy insides, and cut the hearts into bite-sized wedges. Set aside.
3. Pat the salmon fillets dry and season both sides generously with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy skillet or sautée pan, heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the salmon and cook until nicely browned on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side. The fish should be firm but supple to the touch and slightly pink in the center. Transfer the fish to a plate and keep warm.
4. Return the broth to a simmer over low heat and whisk in the cubes of butter, one at a time, until fully melted. Add the artichokes and diced tomatoes and cook until warmed through.
5. Spoon the vegetables onto serving plates and place the salmon on top. Spoon additional broth over the salmon and serve.