Cinnamon Crusted Salmon over Leeks

Cinnamon, a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum, can be used in both sweet and savory foods. Cinnamon was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even for a god: a fine inscription records the gift of cinnamon to the temple of Apollo at Miletus. Though its source was kept mysterious in the Mediterranean world for centuries by the middlemen who handled the spice trade, to protect their monopoly as suppliers, cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka. It was imported to Egypt as early as 2000 BC. The tree is now grown commercially at Kerala in southern India, Bangladesh, Java, Sumatra, the West Indies, Brazil, Vietnam, Madagascar, Zanzibar and Egypt.

salmon over sautéed leeksI love the smell of cinnamon, but have never really cooked with it. However,  I recently read that cinnamon is good for you – among other benefits, studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol – and decided to give it a whirl. Not being keen on baking, I decided to incorporate cinnamon into a savory dish, so I paired it with salmon. Not disappointed, this dish produced some really nice, unexpected flavors.

sautéed leeksWash and slice one leek. Sauté in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of butter and a dash of cinnamon until tender. Add one sliced yellow summer squash and sauté about 3-4 minutes more. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons each of olive oil, cinnamon and maple syrup over medium high heat. Sear the salmon, skin side up. Turn over and cook 4 minutes. Turn back over, remove skin and finish cooking until tender and moist. Serve over reserved leek mixture.


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