salmon en croute

(with a herby spinach-stuffed crust and a gorgeous cheesy sauce)

This is such a nostalgic dish, and making it is not only super-satisfying, it creates a brilliantly exciting centre piece.

serves 8, 1 hour 10 mins, plus cooling

2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
50g unsalted butter
a bunch of fresh oregano (about 15g)
1kg frozen chopped spinach
1 x 375g packet of all-butter puff pastry (cold)
1 x 1kg side of salmon, skin off, pin boned (ask your fishmonger for a fillet from the top end of the          fish), from sustainable sources
1 large free-range egg

for the sauce
1 leek
50g sun-dried tomatoes
100ml white wine
1 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
250ml semi-skimmed milk
50g red Leicester cheese
Cayenne pepper

Peel and finely slice the onions and garlic, then place in a large pan on a medium heat with 1 tbsp of oil and half the butter. Pick in the oregano leaves and cook for 10 mins, stirring regularly. Add the spinach and cook for a further 15 to 20 mins or until the liquid has evaporated, still stirring regularly. Remove from the heat, taste, season to perfection and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: wash, trim and finely slice the lock, then place in a large pan on a medium-low heat with 1 tbsp of oil, the remaining butter and the sun-dried tomatoes. Cook for 15 mins or until sweet and tender, stirring regularly. Pour in the wine and let it cook away, then stir in the flour and, splash by splash, stir in the milk. Leave it to simmer for 5 mins, then liquidise in a blender until silky smooth. Grate in the cheese, add a pinch of cayenne and blitz again. Taste and season to perfection, then leave to cool completely.

On a large sheet of flour-dusted greaseproof paper, roll out the pastry so it's 10cm bigger than your salmon all the way round. Pour away any excess liquid from the cooled spinach mixture, then spoon it onto the middle of the pastry and spread it across the surface, leaving a 3cm border at the edges. Place the salmon in the middle, then roll up the sides of the pastry to create the crust, going right up to the salmon and pinching it at the corners to secure it in place. Lightly score the top of the salmon in a criss-cross fashion, then pour the cool cheesy sauce over the fish. Brush the exposed pastry with beaten egg and you're ready to cook. You can cook it now or cover and pop it into the fridge overnight if you want to get ahead.

When you're ready to cook, heat the oven to 220C (240C non-fan) and place a large baking sheet in there to heat up. Carefully lift the greaseproof paper and salmon en croute onto the tray and bake at the bottom of the oven for 30-40 mins, or until golden and cooked through. This is delicious served with a garden salad and lemon wedges on the side, for squeezing over.

per serving 657 kca1, 43.5g fat (14.8g saturated), 37.3g protein, 367g carbs, 7.1g sugars, 12g salt, 2.9g fibre