Everything spice-rubbed salmon and cream cheese dressed salad channels a deli classic

Ann Maloney

THE WASHINGTON POST – If my husband decides to walk over to Call Your Mother deli in Georgetown to pick up bagels, he doesn’t even ask me what kind I want.

He knows it’ll be an everything bagel – usually with plain cream cheese. That spice combination of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion flakes, garlic flakes and salt is divine.

If he’s feeling a little fancy, he might splurge on the Royal Palm, which is dressed with smoked salmon, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions and capers.

There is a reason that this traditional combo is so popular. The flavours balance one another so beautifully, with the creaminess of the cheese and juiciness of the tomato as a counterpoint to the salty salmon and capers. The cucumber and red onion deliver fresh crunch in each bite.

I know I’m not alone in my love for it, even among my colleagues, because Becky Krystal created an Everything Tomato Tart last summer.

At the time I thought: A slender wedge of this tart would taste so great next to a lightly seared piece of salmon.

The salmon is seared with a dusting of everything spice, similar to the herbs and seasonings found on an everything bagel. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

It’s not much of a leap to think about sprinkling some of that everything spice blend on fresh salmon and giving it a light sear for a quick and easy weeknight supper, but I wanted the whole shebang, so I played around with creating a cream cheese and caper dressing that could lightly coat the fresh salad of cucumbers, red onion and tomato.

It worked so well. I made it again and again. I can’t say no one else has ever done this, but it was new to me and soon joined my regular rotation. (If I’m still missing the bagel, I add a handful of bagel chips to the plate.)

Food origin stories often are messy. The everything spice blend is a case in point. David Gussin of Queens was credited with creating the blend in the 1980s, but then, of course, that claim was disputed by someone who said they made them that way years earlier.

Regardless, everything spice has grown so in popularity that it is now easy to find among the spices in well-stocked grocery stores. Or you can easily make your own.

You’ll have a bit of the salad dressing leftover; try dipping fresh vegetables in it for a snack. Or, put a dollop on fish cakes, use it to dress a salad made with canned salmon or mix it into your next tuna salad.

EVERYTHING SALMON WITH CUCUMBER AND RED ONION SALAD

30 minutes

4 servings

Love lox and bagels with all of the traditional accompaniments? Then this dish may become a favorite. The salmon is seared with a dusting of everything spice, similar to the herbs and seasonings found on an everything bagel. The fillet is served atop a salad of cucumbers, red onion and tomato tossed with a caper-cream cheese dressing. Still missing that bagel? Serve this with bagel chips on the side. This recipe makes a generous amount of dressing, if you have a little leftover, eat it as a snack with crudite made up of leftover salad ingredients, or with potato or bagel chips.

Make Ahead: The salad dressing can be made up to three days ahead. Storage Notes: Leftover salmon can be refrigerated for up to two days.

INGREDIENTS

For the dressing

Three ounces regular or low-fat cream cheese, softened

Two tablespoons whole or two per cent milk, plus more if needed

One tablespoon fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar

One tablespoon drained capers

One clove garlic, halved

One teaspoon fresh dill fronds, plus more for serving (optional)

1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper, plus more if needed

For the salmon and salad

Four skin-on salmon fillets

One tablespoon everything bagel spice

One cucumber, peeled or unpeeled, thinly sliced

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

One small red onion, sliced into half-moons

Four small radishes, thinly sliced

One lemon, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Make the salad dressing

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cream cheese, milk, and lemon juice or vinegar, and process until smooth.

Add the capers, garlic, dill, if using, and pepper and pulse just until well combined. The dressing should be thick enough to coat the vegetables.

If you want it thinner, add more milk, one tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.

Transfer the dressing to a container with a tightfitting lid and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Make the salmon and salad

Place a platter near the stove. Pat the salmon dry with a tea towel or paper towel.

Sprinkle the everything bagel spice evenly over the skinless side the salmon fillets and gently press the seasoning into the fish.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles when it hits the surface, but if it begins smoking reduce the heat.

Add the fillets, skin-side down, and cook until the skin is lightly crisped, three to four minutes. (If you do not have a nonstick skillet, add one tablespoon of oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. Then add the salmon.)

Using a spatula, turn the fillets over and reduce the heat to medium.

Cook the salmon, without moving it, until it looks almost cooked through, two minutes; you can check by looking at the sides of each fillet, where you should see pinker meat near the edges and a slightly darker center.

The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fillet and the desired doneness.

Using a spatula, gently transfer the fish, spice-side up, to the platter.

While the salmon is cooking, in a large bowl, combine the cucumber, tomato, red onion and radishes.

When the salmon is ready, pour or spoon 1/2 cup of the dressing over the salad and toss until the vegetables are coated.

Divide the salad among four plates and top each with a salmon fillet.

Cut the lemon, if using, into wedges and serve alongside the fish and serve the remaining dressing in a small bowl on the side, if desired.

NUTRITION

Calories: 342; Total Fat: 13g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 102mg; Sodium: 792mg; Carbohydrates: 9g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 5g; Protein: 36g