Weekly Winner: Sanity-Saving, Sublime Salmon

IMG_0578This has been a crazy week. We’re having some major renovations done here in the house which means my beloved, sacred schedule has been knocked for a serious loop! Between construction workers traipsing through the house, the mind-numbing noise and the never-ending dust, cleanup and minute-by-minute decisions to be made, dinners have not been the most thought-out and carefully planned.

However, I’ve had a stack of new recipes I’ve wanted to try out and a few nights ago when our contractor left a bit early to let cement and tile glue dry, I pulled out this one to give it a shot.

Salmon has always been a bit of a comfort-food for me. By that I mean, I just always feel better after eating it. The same can not be said for a lot of other “comfort foods”. You love eating them and are happy while you are consuming them, but then afterwards? Not so much.

This however was wonderful. Elegant, sumptuous, and easy. Just what was needed to restore some semblance of order and sanity to our little corner of Chicago.

The recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine and is incredibly simple.  The recipe just calls for brown basmati rice, but I went ahead and mixed some spinach into ours.

Coconut Curry Salmon with Basmati Rice

Recipe serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp fresh lime juice

1 1/2 tsp red curry paste

1 (15 oz) can light coconut milk

4 salmon fillets, skinned

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

brown basmati rice for serving

Procedure:

Place brown sugar, lime juice, red curry paste, and coconut milk in a large skillet, stirring to combine.  Add fish to pan; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 9 minutes or until desired degree of doneness, turning once after 5 minutes.

Place fish on plate.  Prepare brown rice according to package directions.  Bring remaining sauce to a boil in the skillet; boil 5 minutes or until reduced to 1/2 cup.  Serve with fish and rice.

 

Weekly Winner: Autumn on a Plate

I love the change of seasons — especially the entrance of fall. As the leaves change, oddly I find myself craving food that matches the colors of the falling foliage — orange squashes, sweet potatoes and peppers, red apples, red peppers and beets, and and the rustic brown of roasted meats, potatoes and of course, bacon! (but that’s another post).

So when I found this recipe for Spicy Chicken Breasts with Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Cranberry Salsa I knew I’d be making it and that it would be delicious, which is was. What I didn’t expect was that it would be so gosh, dang perdy! I mean seriously, if this dish doesn’t just scream “Fall”!! then I don’t know what does.

The recipe came from Fine Cooking and while it certainly is “fine” it is also incredibly easy. But there’s something to be said for just the right combination of colors, textures and tastes to bring absolute joy to the dinner plate. And this recipe does that beautifully.

Spicy Chicken with Black Bean, Cranberry, and Sweet Potato Salsa

4 Tbs. canola oil; more for the broiler pan
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup finely diced red or Vidalia onion
Kosher salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 large clove garlic, mashed to a paste
1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
2-1/2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/8 cup chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

Position a rack about 6 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler to high.

Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the sweet potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the onion, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook for 1 minute. Uncover and cook, stirring, until the onion and sweet potatoes are tender and the water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, combine 1 tsp. salt with the chili powder, cumin, and cayenne in a small bowl.

Butterfly each chicken breast by slicing it horizontally almost but not entirely in half so you can open it like a book. Rub the spices all over.

Lightly oil a broiler pan, put the chicken on it, and broil, flipping once, until just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes total.

In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, lime zest, juice, and 2 Tbs. of the canola oil. Add the potatoes and onions, black beans, cranberries, and cilantro and toss gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with the chicken.

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Weekly Winner: Superfood Salvation

Travel wreaks havoc with my best intentions. I always think I will make wise choices while traveling and visiting my family but alas, it never happens. Between running through airports to grab a quick bite and festive reunions with too many tasty temptations (and plenty of wine) around I always fall way off my healthy eating track. So on my first full day back at home, I needed salvation. I craved something that inherently tasted healthy and would reset my system.

IMG_0571.JPGEnter Seared Salmon with Lemony Barley Salad With Kale Pesto.  The seared salmon was just that:  salmon seared with salt and pepper.  Therefore there is no recipe for that.  The Barley Salad however comes from Food & Wine Magazine.  I adore salmon and it is always my go-to thing to prepare when I want something healthy.  The barley salad was a total surprise awhile ago.  I made it for a client, tried it, and adored it.  The two together saved me.  Salvation on a plate!

Lemony Barley Salad with Kale Pesto

Ingredients:

1 cup pearled barley (about 8 ounces)

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup currants

1 tablespoon minced shallot

6 ounces kale, stems discarded and leaves torn into small pieces (4 cups)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt

Procedure:

  1. In a medium saucepan, cook the barley in salted boiling water until al dente, 30 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl. Let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over low heat, stirring, until lightly golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the currants and shallot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the shallot is golden, about 3 minutes. Scrape into the barley and add the pine nuts.
  4. In a food processor, pulse two-thirds of the kale with the lemon juice until chopped. With the machine on, slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil until smooth. Season with salt. Scrape the pesto into the barley. Add the remaining kale leaves, season with salt and toss well. Serve.