It’s that time of year — the time when the Pacific Northwest really starts to be amazing. That time when, growing up, we’d head north and cast our lines in the nearest river. I’d like to say we were out catching salmon and whatnot but my skills were pretty limited so catching rainbow trout was a good day. We’d pan fry it and serve it as is but, as I’ve cooked more, we’ve added sauces like this Toasted Walnut Green Sauce. It’s a toasted walnut sauce made with heaps and heaps of fresh herbs. It may seem like this Pan-Roasted Trout with Walnut-Green Sauce recipe is willy-nilly with any assortment of herbs you’d like, but, so long as they’re tender-stemmed herbs (anything from parsley to chives to chervil) it more than works out, trust me.
But I can’t take credit for this dish. This recipe is my adaptation of a classic German sauce, known as Grune Sosse. Don’t worry, I don’t know how to pronounce it either. And, seeing as I’ve never been served this sauce — in Germany or elsewhere — I just took the idea and ran with it. So, here it goes: a sauce that’s light and summer-y, with no real guarantee that it tastes anything like the original.
What I can guarantee is that it’s good. Packed with loads of nutty walnut and herb flavors, this green sauce adds a burst of bright flavor and it’s extremely versatile, working as well with this pan-roasted trout for a quick dinner or with crisp seasonal vegetables for an easy, healthy appetizer.
And the best part? It’s a go-to for an easy dinner party recipe because you’ll have the whole thing on the table before you’ve finished your first glass of wine. Which, if you ask me, should be something mineral-y and crisp like a good Pinot Grigio.
Pan-Roasted Trout with Walnut-Green Sauce Recipe
- 2 ounces (about 2 packed cups) mixed fresh herbs such as chives, chervil, dill, parsley, tarragon
- 2 ounces (about 2 packed cups) spicy mixed greens such as watercress, sorrel, or dandelion
- 1 ounce (about 1 packed cup) baby spinach
- 1 cup (about 2 ounces) toasted walnut halves
- 3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
- 3 tablespoons walnut or olive oil divided
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice plus lemon slices for garnish
- Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 small boned and butterflied whole rainbow trout head and skin on (about 10 to 12 ounces each)
- For the green sauce: Combine herbs, spicy greens, spinach, walnuts, buttermilk, yogurt, Dijon, 2 teaspoons of the oil, 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Chill for at least 30 minutes before using.
- For the trout: Heat the remaining oil in a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish all over with salt and pepper. When oil shimmers, add whole fish, and cook until flesh is opaque, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn fish over and cook on second side until just opaque in center, about 3 to 5 minutes more.
- Transfer fish to plates (you can serve one whole fish per person or separate it into filets as desired), serve with a few slices of lemon, and a few spoonfuls of green sauce. Pass additional sauce on the side.