Stovetop Salmon with Star Anise is one of those dishes that plates up in a rainbow of colors with varied textures and flavors, but goes together quickly and requires little fuss and muss (more nutrition with fewer dishes to wash).
Colorful veggies have high concentrations of important vitamins and anti-oxidants, and meals should always include more vegetables than protein for optimum health. Using a single stove top pan for the vegetables and salmon saves time and produces great flavor when topped with toasted spices and infused olive oil. If you want to add them, it’s easy to roast garnishes of red onions and za’atar lemons in the oven while the rest of the meal is assembled.
Preheat oven to 350.
Remove salmon from refrigerator and let come to room temperature.
Prepare the onions by slicing them into 1/3 inch sections and brushing with olive oil. Place on parchment lined sheet pan. Thinly slice the lemons and do the same–brushing with olive oil. I sprinkle za’atar on the lemon slices, but substitute what you might have on hand. Lightly salt and pepper the onions.
When the oven has heated, bake the onions and lemons for 20-30 minutes, turning lemons after 10 minutes and sprinkling the other side with za’atar. The lemons will probably finish earlier than the onions so remove them from the pan and continue cooking onions until desired doneness.
In a small cast iron pan toast the star anise and cumin see until it begins to brown and smoke just a bit. Remove immediately from heat and pour onto a small piece of paper that can be used as a funnel. Add the 1 Tbsp Aleppo chili to the mixture. Pour the spices into the grinder and grind. Because the star anise pieces are quite large you may have to shake the grinder up and down while holding it with the motor running.
In small pan pour 1/3 cup regular or flavored (I used blood orange) olive oil. Add the basil leaves and simmer on low heat for 3-5 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit in pan.
Chop, slice, and briefly sauté vegetables (except kale) in 1-2 tsp olive oil. I chose celery chunks, sliced red pepper, and fennel sections. Remove vegetables from pan. Add salt and pepper.
Add additional 1 Tbsp olive oil to the vegetable pan and carefully set fish in skin side down. Pour basil olive oil into small bowl and brush salmon with oil. Spread basil leaves over fish. Cover with toasted spices and continue cooking on medium heat Add a lid for about 5 minutes of the 9-12 minute cooking time. Time will vary depending on thickness of the fish. Overcooking will cause mushiness.
When done, remove fish from pan. Add pieces of coarsely chopped lacinato kale and briefly cook for a minute on medium stirring with tongs. Remove from pan and set on plate. Slice za’atar lemons and mix with kale and drizzle a few drops of remaining basil olive oil or splash of vinegar, if desired. Set salmon on top and add remaining vegetables.