These timbales, in beautiful spring colors, make a simple, stylish entrée. They can be mostly prepared ahead. For a really special occasion, stir a spoonful of pink salmon roe into the sauce at the very end to punctuate the dish with elegance.

Makes 4 servings.

1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ pounds salmon fillet from the tail section (no pin
bones), skin removed
Salt and white pepper to taste
3 or 4 spring onions (scallions, both white and green parts),
chopped
½ pound spinach, stemmed, trimmed, washed and dried
½ cup cream
½ cup white wine (or fish stock)
A few drops of lemon juice
4 small ovenproof molds (Pyrex 6 ounce/175 milliliter are
perfect)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Smear the inside of the molds with about ½ tablespoon butter.

If the salmon skin has not been removed, lay the fillets skinside- down on a cutting board. Holding the tip of the tail with your fingers, slip a sharp knife between the skin and flesh; from the pointed end toward the wider part, detach the skin. If you’ve never done this, it’s not hard. Cut the salmon fillets in half lengthwise along the seam into four long, equal pieces (you might find it easier to do this before skinning). Cut off any grayish part of the flesh. Line the molds with the fillets, skin side in, leaving a hole at the bottom. Patch if needed with trimmings: only the outside
will show. It’s fine if the salmon doesn’t reach the top of the mold; if it’s taller, trim it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Melt the remaining butter in a medium-size saucepan and gently soften the spring onions without letting them color, stirring. Add the spinach leaves and cook them in low heat, stirring, only until wilted; season with salt and pepper. Divide the spinach mixture among the four molds, spooning it inside the salmon. Cover each mold with foil and set the cups slightly apart in an ovenproof baking pan. (The dish can be prepared ahead up to this point and chilled; if so, add 3 minutes to the cooking time.)

To cook, pour boiling water into the pan around the molds to reach halfway up. Cook in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Take the pan out, remove the molds from the hot water bath, and keep them warm while you make the sauce. Remove any bits of green from the saucepan but do not wash it. When cool enough to handle, one at a time remove the foil from each mold and invert it onto a saucer held over the saucepan; tip to spill the juices into the pan. Slide each mold off the saucer onto a warm serving plate; unmold and keep the timbale warm. (If there’s white on the surface of the salmon, simply wipe with your fingertip remove it.)

Add the cream and wine (or stock) to the pan and boil to reduce it to a nice sauce. Season with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper; taste carefully for balance. Mop up any juices from the serving plates, if necessary, and spoon the saucearound the timbales.