Weekly Winner: Sensational Simple Salmon Salad (with substitution)!

salmon saladWhen it’s hot and sticky in Chicago, I love a salad for dinner.  I also love salmon.  It is one of the few proteins that I don’t mind eating cold or at room temperature which makes it great for salads.  What I don’t love; however is watercress.  I find that it totally takes over a dish – much stronger than its delicate little leaves would lead you to believe!  So when I came across Nigella Lawson‘s Salmon, Avocado, Watercress and Pumpkin Seed Salad, I knew I’d give it a try — with one slight alteration. Now, without further ado, I present Salmon, Avocado, Arugula and Pumpkin Seed Salad.

Salmon, Avocado, Arugula and Pumpkin Seed Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the salmon:

2 salmon filets (approx. 8 oz total)

2 spring onions, trimmed

1 tsp black peppercorns

2-1/2 tsp lime juice

2 tsp sea salt flakes

For the salad:

3 Tbsp pumpkin seeds

5 oz arugula

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 ripe avocado

1 Tbsp grapeseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt flakes (or to taste)

Procedure:

  1. Put the salmon filets in a small frying pan and cover with cold water.  Add the whole spring onions and peppercorns, squeeze in the lime juice and sprinkle in the salt, then bring to a boil, uncovered.  When the pan is bubbling, turn the filets over, then remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand for 7 minutes. Take the filets out of the liquid and leave to cool completely.  Once cool, the salmon will be cooked through.
  2. While the salmon is cooking, start on the salad.  Toast the pumpkin seeds by tossing them in a dry frying pan on high heat.  They will start jumping a little, and will darken and get a smokier taste.  When toasted, transfer to a cold plate.
  3. When you are ready to make the salad, put the arugula into a large shallow bowl (or split between 2 bowls), sprinkle with the vinegar and toss.  Add the salmon, removing the skin and tearing the fish into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Halve the avocado and remove the pit.  Spoon the flesh out onto the salmon and arugula.  Drizzle the oil over the salad, sprinkle with the salt and half of the toasted pumpkin seeds, and toss gently to mix.  Scatter the remaining pumpkin seeds on top and serve.

Zesty Za’atar Zalmon

zatar salmonOK, sorry… couldn’t resist.  The actual name of this incredibly easy, incredibly complex-tasting meal is Mediterranean Za’atar Salmon but come on, where’s the fun in that?  Where’s the alliteration??  Seriously though, this is a stellar salmon dish.  Ha! See?  I did it again — Seriously Stellar Salmon… now that’s what this blog entry should have been titled!

All alliteration aside (sorry, I just can’t seem to stop!), this is a one-pan dish that is just different enough to make it interesting.  If you’ve never tried za’atar spice, you should!  I have a handful of recipes that I use it in and have never been disappointed.  The Za’atar gets used twice in this recipe.  It seasons the broth that is used to cook the couscous and it seasons the mayo which is spread on the salmon before cooking.  By the way, if you’ve never topped salmon with mayo before cooking, um, yeah…. it’s a very good thing.

The recipe comes from Kraft Food & Family. Now, don’t go looking down your nose at me or this recipe because of the source.  I’ve gotten some really killer recipes from the magazine.  They are always well-written, creative and definitely darn tasty.  They just need to work on their alliteration.

Mediterranean Za’atar Salmon

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

4 1/2 tsp. za’atar, divided

4 skinless salmon fillets

1 1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth

1 cup Israeli couscous, uncooked

1 5-oz package mixed baby spinach and arugula salad greens (I actually used baby kale)

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

2 Tbsp coarsely chopped Kalamata olives

1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Procedure:

  • Mix mayo and 1 Tbsp za’atar until blended.  Brush half the mayo mixture onto salmon fillets; place, mayo sides down, in a large skillet.  Brush remaining sides with mayo mixture.  Cook on medium heat 5 to 6 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness.  Remove fish from skillet and cover to keep warm.
  • Add broth and remaining za’atar to skillet; stir until blended. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Stir in couscous; cover.  Simmer on medium-low heat for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add all remaining ingredients except cheese; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or just until greens are wilted.  Top with fish and cheese and continue to cook, covered, 2 to 3 more minutes or until fish is heated through and cheese is slightly melted.

 

Weekly Winner: Silly Name, Sensational Salmon

IMG_0759Sometimes the name of a dish will draw me in.  It paints a picture of what the final dish will look like.  And if said name includes certain key words, such as “creamy, bacon, cheesy, or pork”, chances are I’m gonna read the recipe.  Then comes something called Bruschetta Salmon and I was stumped.  Was this toast with salmon on it?  Were they substituting the salmon for the bread in some paleo-gone-wild attempt at an appetizer?  How would that work?  Then I actually read the recipe and understood.  It’s basically salmon with all the flavors of a typical bruschetta used as a topping.  What a great idea!  And I might add, what a tasty, quick dinner!

A word of warning for the faint of heart:  this fish dish has cheese in it!  I know, I know…. blasphemy, right?  Wrong! It’s good. Get over it.  I’ve never quite understood the rule about no cheese with fish or seafood.  I’m sorry, a tuna melt?  Hello?  Enough said.  This tasty little rule-breaker of a recipe comes from Delish.com.  It’s quick, it’s cheerful, it’s dang yummy and I will definitely be making it again soon.  Silly name and all!

Bruschetta Salmon

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 (6-oz) salmon fillets

1 tsp dried oregano

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 shallots, minced

3 cups halved cherry tomatoes

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/4 cup thinly sliced basil

Freshly grated Parmesan

Balsamic glaze, for drizzling

Procedure:

  1. Season salmon all over with oregano, salt and pepper
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil.  When oil is shimmering but not smoking, add salmon skin-side up and cook until deeply golden, about 6 minutes. Flip and cook 6 minutes, until salmon is opaque and flakes easily.  Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add remaining tablespoon olive oil to skillet, then stir in garlic and shallots.  Cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomatoes just begin to burst. Remove from heat and squeeze over lemon juice
  4. Serve salmon with tomato mixture spooned on top.  Garnish each serving with basil and parmesan, then drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Weekly Winner: Salvation found in a Fabulously Fortifying and Stunning Salmon Salad

SalmonKaleSaladSalmon is my go-to salvation dish.  When I need to reset and rebalance, I inevitably turn to my favorite fish.  It is so versatile and incredibly easy to cook.  Since the temperatures are (finally) starting to rise here in Chicago and its beginning to feel like summer, an entrée salad is definitely the way to go.  I got this winner of a dish from Cooking Light Magazine.

Roasted Pistachio-Crusted Salmon and Kale Salad hits all the right notes.  It’s healthy and hearty all at the same time.  The nuts on the salmon add fabulous crunch and even more omega-3 fatty acids, the baby kale and red onion provide  crisp freshness, and the beets ground the dish in wonderful earthiness.  This salad will set you right with only about a half-hour’s worth of work. I streamlined this a bit further by getting pre-cooked beets.  Ain’t nobody got time to roast and peel beets for a mid-week dinner!

Roasted Pistachio-Crusted Salmon and Kale Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-size pre-cooked beets
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped unsalted pistachios, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 (1 1/2-lb.) skin-on salmon fillet (about 1 1/2 inches thick)
  • 7/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups baby kale and spinach mix
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Stir together pistachios, mustard, and lemon zest in a small bowl.  Place salmon on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Spoon pistachio mixture on top of salmon; pat into an even layer.
  2. Bake at 425 until a thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 130F, 15-16 minutes.
  3. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, remaining 1/2 tsp salt and remaining 1/4 tsp pepper in a large bowl; reserve 3 tbsp. of the dressing.  Add beets, kale-spinach mix, and onion to bowl with dressing, and toss to coat. Place salmon fillet on salad.  Drizzle with reserved dressing.

Weekly Winner: Sensational, Subtle, Salmon Salad

IMG_0468Sometimes food doesn’t have to smack you in the face.  As much as I like big, bold flavors, spice-encrusted meats, tangy sauces and a big ‘ol punch of garlic; occasionally I find beauty and comfort in subtlety.  Salmon, Radish, and Bibb Salad is that dish.

I found this winner in Real Simple Magazine.  Honestly, I was just looking for a different, simple salad to throw together for a midweek lunch.  Salmon had been on sale and, as we discussed in an earlier post I do love me a creamy dressing.  As I continued to eat this salad, picking along and marveling at how tasty it was with such few actual ingredients, the word “elegant” kept coming to mind.  This was definitely an elegant salad.  But that isn’t alliterative and you all know how much I love alliteration.   So serve up this salmon salad and savor the subtle simplicity of such a super selection. (Sorry, I’ll stop now… here’s the recipe)

Salmon, Radish, and Bibb Salad with herby buttermilk dressing

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 16-oz. skin-on salmon fillet (about 1 in. thick)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, plus leaves for serving
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus leaves for serving
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • 1 4-oz. head Bibb lettuce, leaves torn in half
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)

Procedure:

Season salmon with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook salmon, skin side down, until opaque and cooked most of the way through, about 7 minutes. Flip and cook to desired doneness, about 3 minutes for medium-well. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Break into large pieces and discard the skin.

Whisk buttermilk, mayonnaise, chopped basil, chopped mint, garlic, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Toss together lettuce, radishes, basil leaves, mint leaves, and remaining teaspoon pepper in a large salad bowl. Top with salmon and drizzle with dressing.

Weekly Winner:  The Secret to Succulent Salmon? A board and a killer glaze

There is very little you can do to salmon that I wouldn’t like. Broiled, poached, sautéed, flaked … you name it, I’m a fan. One of my favorite ways to prepare salmon is definitely on the grill. Grilling fish however, is fraught with peril. The delicate fish can break, stick or simply fall through the grates (or possibly all three!)

The answer is cedar-planking the fish.  It’s like a safety net for the fish!  In addition, it imparts more smokiness than simply throwing it on the grill.  Add an amazing glaze and you’ve got yourself a fabulous fish dish.  Plank-Grilled Miso Salmon from Eating Well magazine checks all the boxes and comes together in about a half hour (not counting the soaking of the plank).  

Plank-Grilled Miso Salmon

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp sake

1/4 cup white miso

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1-1/2 pounds salmon fillet, skinned or 4 boneless, skinless filets

4 scallions, trimmed

1/4 tsp ground pepper

2 tsps black and/or white sesame seeds

Procedure:

  1. Heat sake and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat just until warm. Remove from heat and whisk in miso until smooth. Let cool for 1 minute, then whisk in mayonnaise and lemon zest.
  2. Set up your grill for indirect grilling. Build a medium-high heat fire or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
  3. Place the plank, smooth-side down, directly over the flame and grill until the bottom is charred and smoky, 2 to 4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. Run your fingers over the salmon and remove any bones you find with tweezers. Place scallions on the charred side of the plank, leaving a little space between them. Place the salmon on the scallions and season with pepper. Spread the glaze on top and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  5. Grill the fish on the plank over indirect heat until the glaze is bubbling and browned and the fish is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve on the plank, if desired.

Weekly Winner:  Viva La Vinaigrette – Dressing up the Ordinary Midweek Meal

There is nothing new in the main components of last week’s salmon dinner.  I have made all of these things hundreds of times before — salmon, roasted veggies — many times they’ve even appeared on the same plate.  But this dinner was different…dare I say “snazzy”.

Much like the right accessory can liven up an old outfit, or a new throw pillow can add new life to your old living room, a different vinaigrette turned my ordinary “go to dinner” into an event meal.  I’m talking about Oven-Roasted Salmon with Cauliflower and Mushrooms.  See? Nothing new here.  But oh, wait…. that zippy-tangy-slightly-sweet vinaigrette drizzled over everything hooks you with the very first bite and stifles any yawns you were anticipating with the meal.

The recipe comes from Food Network Magazine and is neither complicated nor time-consuming.  You’re doing what you’ve done a million times, roasting fish and vegetables.  The only added work is whipping up the addictive dressing which actually takes about 7 minutes, tops.  I’ve just been sitting here thinking about what else I can use that stuff on!

Curtis Stone’s Oven-Roasted Salmon with Cauliflower and Mushrooms

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the vinaigrette:

1/2 cup dry red wine

1/4 cup dried currants

3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the vegetables:

1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into small florets

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

1 1/4 pounds assorted mushrooms (such as cremini, oyster and stemmed shiitakes), halved lengthwise if large

1/4 cup very finely chopped shallots

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh sage

Freshly ground pepper

For the salmon:

4 5-ounce salmon fillets

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup green pumpkin seeds, toasted (optional) – not really “optional” in my book!

Procedure:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Make the vinaigrette: In a small heavy saucepan, bring the wine, currants, shallots, vinegar and brown sugar to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the currants are plump and the liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl.

Prepare the vegetables: In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to coat. Season to taste with salt. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Meanwhile, heat a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, then add the mushrooms and cook, without stirring, until golden on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Stir the mushrooms and cook until tender and well browned, about 4 minutes more.

Stir the roasted cauliflower, shallots and garlic into the mushrooms and cook until the shallots soften, about 1 minute. Stir in the sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the cauliflower mixture to the baking sheet and cover to keep warm. Wipe out the skillet.

Cook the salmon: Season with salt and pepper. Heat the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then place the salmon skinned side up in the skillet and cook 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the salmon over; transfer the skillet to the oven and roast 3 to 5 minutes, or until the salmon is mostly opaque with a rosy center when flaked in the thickest part with the tip of a knife. Meanwhile, uncover the cauliflower mixture and rewarm in the oven if necessary.

Transfer the salmon to a platter or four dinner plates. Spoon the cauliflower mixture around the salmon and drizzle with some of the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds, if using (and you should!). Serve the remaining vinaigrette on the side.

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