Learn Chef Dean Fearing’s tips and tricks for cooking a romantic meal for two as he makes Salmon with a toasted Fennel & Basil Crust on Rigatoni with Wild Mushrooms, English Peas and Pancetta with his fiancée, Wanda, in Episode 9 of Dean’s Texas Cuisine.


2 each, 6oz Salmon
4 tablespoons, Olive Oil
Salt, to taste
Basil Aioli, recipe to follow
Fennel Crust, recipe to follow
½ cup Pancetta, small dice
1 each Shallots, minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
½ pound Wild Mushrooms, cleaned, sliced thin
½ cup Carrots, peeled, medium dice, blanched
½ cup English Peas, blanched
Coarse Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
1 cup (packed tight) Baby Arugula
2 cups of cooked Rigatoni

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.

Season salmon with salt and pepper.  In a large sauté pan, over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil.  Add the salmon filets, flesh side down and cook for about two minutes. With a spatula, turn each filet and remove the pan from the heat.

Using a spoon, generously spread the Basil Aioli over the top of each filet and evenly sprinkle with the Fennel Crust.  Place the pan into the hot oven and cook for 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.  Remove the halibut from the oven and place each filet on a warm platter.

While the fish is in the oven, bring a large sauté pan to medium high heat, add the remaining olive oil and add the pancetta, start to brown for two minutes.  Add the Rigatoni, sauté until brown about 2 minutes.  Add shallot and garlic, sauté for one minute, and add the wild mushrooms, cook for two minutes, stirring constantly.  Add carrots, English peas, sauté with mixture for two minutes and season with salt, coarse ground pepper, and the red pepper flakes.  Remove from the heat and fold in the Arugula.

On warm plates, spoon equal amounts of the gnocchi/mushroom mixture to the center of the plate, place each of the salmon filets over the top and serve.

Basil Aioli

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves|
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup mayonnaise
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Salt, to taste
Course ground black pepper, to taste

Combine the first six ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 Fennel Crust

1 cup Bread Crumbs, fine
1 tablespoon Fennel Seed, toasted and course ground

In a small mixing bowl, combine both ingredients.

 Serves 2

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