Grilled Salmon Filet with Fennel Salad, Ratatouille and Basil Oil

grilled salmon

Douglas Merriam

The following recipe is by Chef Matt Yohalem of Il Piatto Italian Farmhouse Kitchen, and is featured in the June 2014, Farm and Ranch issue. It can be made in large part with farm-fresh, local ingredients. Enjoy!

2 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil

½ cup fresh basil, leaves only

1 Tablespoon chopped parsley

1 ½ Tablespoons chopped garlic

2 lemons, zest and juice

4 boneless 4-6 ounce salmon filets (wild salmon if possible)

1 small eggplant, peeled and roughly chopped (1 inch squares)

1 red onion, ½ roughly chopped

2 bell peppers, 1 roughly chopped

1 zucchini, roughly chopped

1 head of fennel, stalks removed and roughly chopped

1 ripe heirloom tomato, roughly chopped

½ cup white wine

Salt and pepper


In a small Cuisinart or blender, combine ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup basil, chopped parsley, ½ tablespoon chopped garlic, zest of one lemon. Puree. Set aside. Continue reading

Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Spiced Crème Fraîche

asparagus, Douglas Merriam

Douglas Merriam

In honor of our Farm and Ranch Issue, we sought out a chef who has been at the forefront of the Santa Fe farm-to-table movement. Chef Matt Yohalem, owner of Il Piatto Italian Farmhouse Kitchen, stands out for his longstanding dedication to local farm-grown produce.“I’ve been doing this since the ’80s,” Chef Matt says. In the four-star New York City kitchens where he was trained, “farm to table wasn’t a movement, it was the way people cooked.” Chefs simply wanted the best produce, and the best produce happened to come directly from the farm. “I thought that was how you were supposed to cook,” the chef says with a laugh. “It was the best quality, and you picked out exactly what you wanted.”

Today, over two decades into his Santa Fe restaurant tenure, Chef Matt remains true to his roots. He shops for his produce directly from the farmer—be it at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, from the farm or delivered by the farmer to Il Piatto. This is, he finds, “a more economical way to go. There’s no warehouse, no administration or bureaucracy—I talk directly to farmers, who deal directly with me.” Chef Matt mentions Lorenzo Candelaria, a farmer down in Albuquerque’s South Valley. “With the crazy weather here [in Santa Fe], I’ve been so lucky to have him down there,” he says. “I buy everything he grows.” Part of the beauty of buying directly from the farmer is that the menu becomes subject to the season, to the yield and even to the farmer’s suggestions. Recently, Chef Matt has been cooking with bok choy, herbs, turnips, beets and spinach from Albuquerque—including all 54 pounds of Lorenzo’s asparagus.

“When I first got here from New York, there was something that hit me—the sun, the type of soil, what’s in the water….” There’s something special, Chef Matt says, about New Mexico produce. Then he laughs and in his New York accent shares a joke he tells to his students at the cooking school: “Vegetables the size of a basketball? Only in New Mexico. [Here in Santa Fe,] we’re just south of Los Alamos—that’s why we have super vegetables.” Continue reading