This spinach artichoke salmon takes a speedy spin on classic flavors, turning pantry & freezer staples into a comforting yet healthy weeknight dinner.
DRY: Remove the salmon from the refrigerator & transfer the fillets to a paper towel lined plate. Pat the pieces dry with a paper towel, season with salt & pepper to taste and let sit at room temperature while you make the sauce.
SOAK: Measure the cashews into the bottom of a blender pitcher and cover with just-boiled or very hot water. Leave to soak, with the lid on, while you get the sauce base going.
SOFTEN: Heat a high sided pan or dutch oven over low medium and add the avocado oil. When the oil is hot, add the diced yellow onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to soften but not brown, about 5 – 10 minutes or so. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant but not browning, then add 1 cup / 240 milliliters of the broth. Reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid while you make the cashew cream.
BLEND: Strain off and discard the water from the cashews, then return the drained cashews to the blender pitcher. Add 1/2 cup / 120 milliliters of very hot or just-boiled water and blend on high until thick, creamy & smooth. Add the remaining chicken broth 1/2 cup / 120 milliliters at a time, blending until smooth and creamy. Sprinkle in the nutritional yeast, salt, black pepper & red pepper flakes, then blend one last time. The cashew mixture should look and pour like traditional dairy milk at this point, see notes.
SIMMER: Preheat a cast iron skillet or similar on a separate burner over medium high heat. Stir the cashew cream through the broth in the pan a little at a time until it is smooth and glossy. Add the artichokes and spinach, tossing the spinach through the sauce if it using fresh so that it wilts a little. Cover and adjust the heat so that the sauce is at a gentle simmer, with just a few bubbles here and there.
SEAR: Coat the cast iron skillet with the avocado oil. Once hot but not smoking, add the salmon fillets top side down and cook until it has a nice golden crust, about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Gently flip & turn the salmon over with a spatula and cook the underside of the salmon until the the fillets are lightly seared, but the middle is still pink, about 1 minute or so. Remove the salmon from the heat & transfer to a plate.
COOK: Uncover the sauce and add the juice of 1/2 lemon, stirring the wilted spinach through until it’s combined and creamy. The sauce should still be a little on the loose side, so add another splash or two of broth or water if needed. Gently nestle the salmon fillets into the sauce, cover and adjust the heat so that the sauce bubbles gently and continues to cook the salmon through, about 5 – 7 minutes, depending on the thickness of your salmon. I like to cook salmon to about 125 F internal temperature for a lightly medium rare in the middle. If you like your salmon firmer, I wouldn’t let it cook past 135 F, since it will dry out too much. Remember, your salmon will continue to cook as it rests and sits in the sauce, too.
FINISH: Remove the pan from the heat and plate the salmon. Stir the fresh herbs through the sauce, then taste and add additional lemon or salt if needed. Spoon each fillet with the spinach artichoke sauce and serve right away.