Entertaining/ Main Course

Salmon Wellington

October 23, 2019
salmon wellington on cutting board

Looking for a dish to glam up your next dinner party or anniversary meal? Feast your eyes on this Salmon Wellington. I might just be having a puff pastry moment right now, but its crispy, buttery layers make everything better. 

Salmon En Croute (or more properly, Saumon En Croute) is decadent (and sounds it when you use its French name!), but really not too challenging to make. For a special meal or holiday feast, this dish is a show-stopper for salmon fans everywhere. And, you can prep it in advance, either earlier in the day or even weeks before if you pop it in the freezer. Picture a candlelit meal, looking into the eyes of your sweetheart, while your fork crunches through layers of pastry, creamy spinach, and buttery salmon. True love! (And your date might be great too.) This is also a top-notch main course for a holiday get-together, especially if your family is trying to eat less red meat. 

What is Salmon Wellington?

So what is Salmon Wellington? Or Salmon En Croute, as it is also known? Salmon Wellington takes its name from Beef Wellington, a traditional English dish that may well have come from the French Filet de Boeuf En Croute in the 1800s. Traditional Beef Wellington is made by covering beef tenderloin with a layer of pâté and duxelles (a mixture of finely chopped mushrooms, herbs, and onions), then wrapping it in prosciutto and then in puff pastry before baking.

The name “Wellington” has now come to be used with different types of protein, such as sausage or salmon. There are even vegetarian interpretations featuring beets or mushrooms. And, the ingredients topping the main protein vary as well, sometimes sticking with the traditional mushroom preparation but often including other herbs or vegetables, sometimes in a creamy or cheesy sauce. Salmon Wellington often uses a creamy spinach topping on the salmon, like the one in this recipe. Baking a Wellington dish in a crust of puff pastry is traditional, though some versions are made with phyllo dough instead.

How do you make Salmon Wellington?

First, you’ll prepare the filling. Defrost 4oz frozen spinach according to the package instructions and squeeze dry. Trim dark green leaves and root end from a leek, and rinse. Slice leek in half lengthwise, and then into 1/4 inch slices cross-wise. If your leek has lots of dirt between its layers, put the leek slices into a bowl of cold water and let sit for a few minutes. The dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl. Remove leeks with a slotted spoon and pat dry. Heat 1 T. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add sliced leeks and cook until leeks are softened, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

leeks sauteed in butter in small saucepan

Pour in 2 T. white wine and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add 1/3 c. heavy cream, 3/4 t. salt, and 1/4 t. pepper, and simmer until cream thickens significantly, about 4-5 minutes. You should be able to scrape the bottom of the pan with your spatula and not have the cream run back into the empty area.

thickened leeks in cream in small saucepan with red spatula

Make sure all liquid has been squeezed out of thawed spinach. Then add spinach and 1 t. lemon juice and stir until well coated. Set aside while you prepare the salmon. 

spinach and leeks in cream sauce in small saucepan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C. On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry sheet into a long rectangle, roughly 8.5 inches by 12 inches (21.5 cm x 31 cm), and about 1/4 inch thick. It should be wider than the length of your salmon fillets by at least an inch on each side. Cut in half width-wise, so you have two rectangles that are 8.5 x 6 inches. Place one skinless salmon fillet in the middle of one of the rectangles, and season well with salt and pepper.

salmon fillets on puff pastry on cutting board

Then arrange half of the creamed leek/spinach mixture on top of the salmon. The spinach mixture should be about 1/2 inch thick.

salmon on puff pastry with creamed leeks and spinach on top

Now flip over the fillets so that the spinach is on the bottom and the salmon is skin-side up. (You can also start by lining the spinach on the pastry and putting the salmon on top, but it’s harder to estimate exactly how much spinach you need with that approach.)

2 pieces of puff pastry with salmon and spinach mixture on top of each

Wet your finger with some water, and then wet the edge of one long side of one piece of pastry. Then fold up the other long side over the salmon. Fold up the side with the wet edge next, and seal the two sides together—pull them towards each other and up and over the salmon. Cut off excess dough on the two short ends. You just need enough to crimp and then fold under.

2 puff pastry salmon wellington packets with edges cut off

Flip salmon packets over, and crimp each end with a fork. Then fold the crimped edges underneath.

puff pastry salmon wellington packets crimped and ends folded under

Now score the tops of each packet first in one direction and then the other with several lines.

2 salmon wellington puff pastry packets scored

Move packets to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until pastry is golden brown. Take out and put baking sheet on a cooling rack to rest for a few minutes before serving. 

baked salmon wellington

Note that this recipe makes two Salmon Wellington packets. Because of that, I’ve called this a two-serving recipe. That said, I have made this several times and can never eat more than half a packet for a serving, especially if you are serving it with a side of vegetables or salad.

How do you reheat Salmon Wellington?

Salmon Wellington can be reheated in a 400 degree F (200 degree C) oven for around 5-8 minutes. That said, it is really best served straight out of the oven after baking for the first time. Reheating it will continue to cook the salmon slightly, running the risk of overcooking it. That said, I’ve eaten this dish reheated, and it’s really still quite delicious. Just not as delicious as the first time around! Avoid reheating in the microwave as the pastry will not be crisp. 

Can you make Salmon Wellington for a crowd? 

Yes. You can increase the quantities in this recipe and build as many Salmon Wellington packets as you want. Or, you can try using one large salmon fillet, and two sheets of puff pastry sealed together (or one folded over on itself), depending on how large your salmon fillet is. Then you can serve slices for your party rather than a full Wellington per person. And, as I mentioned above, I find half a Salmon Wellington packet to be more than enough for one person if you are serving it with a side dish.

What goes well with Salmon En Croute?

Salmon Wellington is a filling dish, so you really don’t need much on the side. Some boiled baby potatoes tossed in a little bit of butter and chives would go nicely with it. Roasted carrots or steamed green beans (especially skinny haricots verts) are also a nice accompaniment. Sautéed kale or a kale salad pair well, or really, any kind of big green salad. 

Can Salmon Wellington be made ahead? Can you freeze it? 

Yes, though note my caveat above about reheating this dish. If you want to make Salmon Wellington ahead just a few hours, you can easily put your packets together and leave them in the refrigerator for a few hours before baking. If you want to make this dish well in advance, the freezer is your friend. Make the Salmon Wellington packets (up through scoring, but not egg wash), then place the packets on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, wrap each in plastic wrap or in a freezer-safe plastic bag and then keep in freezer for up to 3 months. To bake, take directly from the freezer and put onto a parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Brush with egg wash and bake. Note that you’ll need to add about 15-20 more minutes of cook time. 

Ingredient Tips and Timesavers

This dish definitely takes some time to prepare. Should you want to shorten your steps, you can replace the leek/spinach filling with pre-made creamed spinach. Creamed spinach is easy to find here in Paris, at many of the neighborhood rotisseries or in the freezer section of the grocery store. Just make sure that the version you purchase is quite thick. Too much liquid will make the pastry soggy. 

As for your salmon, asking your fishmonger to take the skin off your fillets for you will save you some time. Look for thick fillets (1.5-2 inches tall) rather than thin. Thick fillets will not overcook in the time the puff pastry needs to cook through, while thin fillets might.

If you like this recipe, please check out some of my other great recipes for throwing epic dinner parties and family celebrations:

Salmon Wellington

Salmon Wellington

Yield: Serves 2
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Salmon Wellington, or Salmon En Croute, is a show-stopper. Salmon fillets topped with creamy spinach and leeks, and wrapped in crispy, buttery puff pastry.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz (115g) frozen spinach
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 T. white wine
  • 1/3 c. heavy cream
  • scant 3/4 t. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning salmon
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground pepper, plus more for seasoning salmon
  • 1 t. lemon juice
  • 2 4-ounce thick salmon fillets, skinned (120 g each)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry (8.8 oz or 250g)
  • egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 T. water and 1/4 t. kosher salt)

Instructions

    1. Defrost the spinach according to the package instructions and squeeze dry.
    2. Trim dark green leaves and root end from leek, and rinse.
    3. Slice leek in half lengthwise, and then into 1/4 inch slices cross-wise. If leek has lots of dirt between its layers, put the leek slices into a bowl of cold water and let sit for a few minutes. The dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl. Remove leeks with a slotted spoon and pat dry.
    4. Heat butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add sliced leeks and cook until leeks are softened, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
    5. Pour in 2 T. white wine and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
    6. Add heavy cream, salt, and pepper, and simmer until cream thickens significantly, about 4-5 minutes. You should be able to scrape the bottom of the pan with your spatula and not have the cream run back into the empty area.
    7. Make sure all liquid has been squeezed out of thawed spinach. Then add spinach and lemon juice to saucepan and stir until well coated. Set aside while you prepare the salmon.
    8. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C.
    9. Roll puff pastry sheet into a long rectangle, roughly 8.5 inches by 12 inches (21.5 cm x 31 cm), and about 1/4 inch thick. It should be wider than the length of your salmon fillets by at least an inch on each side.
    10. Cut in half width-wise, so you have two rectangles that are 8.5 x 6 inches.
    11. Place one salmon fillet in the middle of one of the rectangles, and season well with salt and pepper.
    12. Then arrange half of the creamed leek/spinach mixture on top of the salmon. The spinach mixture should be about 1/2 inch thick.
    13. Now flip over the fillets so that the spinach is on the bottom and the salmon is skin-side up.
    14. Wet your finger with some water, and then wet the edge of one long side of the pastry. Then fold up the other long side over the salmon.
    15. Fold up the side with the wet edge next, and seal the two sides together.
    16. Cut off excess dough on the two short ends. You just need enough to crimp and then fold under.
    17. Flip salmon packets over, and crimp each end with a fork. Then fold the crimped edges underneath.
    18. Now score the tops of each packet first in one direction and then the other.
    19. Move packets to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
    20. Brush with egg wash.
    21. Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until pastry is golden brown.
    22. Take out baking sheet and put on a cooling rack to rest for a few minutes.
    23. Slice each packet in half to serve.

Notes

Salmon Wellington packets can be assembled through step 19 and frozen to bake later. Wrap each packet in plastic wrap or in a freezer-safe plastic bag and then keep in freezer for up to 3 months. To bake, take directly from the freezer and put onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Brush with egg wash and bake. Note that you’ll need to add about 15-20 more minutes of cook time.

Also note that I've called this a two-serving recipe. That said, I have made this several times and never can eat more than half a packet for a serving, especially if you are serving it with a side of vegetables or salad.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 649 Total Fat: 43g Saturated Fat: 17g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 22g Cholesterol: 224mg Sodium: 1664mg Carbohydrates: 27g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 10g Sugar: 4g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 42g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.

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