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.
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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.

Weekly Winner:  Seemingly Stuck on Salmon – Another Winning Salmon Dish

Looking back at the past month or so, it sure seems like we’ve eating a bunch of salmon.  This actually isn’t quite true, but I have tried a bunch of new recipes this month and apparently a good amount have been salmon.  While it’s easily my favorite fish to cook, even I am surprised by the amount of fish that has appeared here in the past few weeks.  Truth be told, I actually tried this recipe for Slow-Roasted Curried Salmon with Corn and Tomatoes before the Asian Pork Salad (my last entry) but thought I needed to take a bit of a break from posting salmon.  Having said that, this could be one of the best yet!

Slow-Roasted Curried Salmon with Corn and Tomatoes comes from Sunset Magazine and is both comforting and exotic at the same time.  It’s got a good bite of heat which is nicely tamed by the sweetness of the corn and tomatoes.  Honestly, I could happily eat this dish once a week without tiring of it. Except for the rice, it is an easy sheet pan dinner which makes clean-up a breeze. And the fact that it’s slow-roasted at a low oven temp means it won’t heat up the house.  Both of those things, added to the amazing taste of the dish makes this a true winner.

Slow-Roasted Curried Salmon with Corn & Tomatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 pounds skinned sockeye salmon fillet

1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. brown mustard seeds

About 1 tsp. salt

1 teaspoon Madras curry powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 very ripe medium red tomato

1/2 small shallot

2 large ears corn

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

12 to 15 large fresh basil leaves

1/2 lemon (optional)

Hot cooked rice

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 275°. Cut salmon into 3/4-in. cubes and put in a large bowl.

2. Grind mustard seeds in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. Pour into a small bowl and mix with 1 tsp. salt, the curry powder, and cayenne. Sprinkle over salmon and turn to coat thoroughly.

3. Cut tomato into 1/2-in. dice and mince shallot. Cut kernels off corn cobs. Add vegetables to salmon along with oil.

4. Stack several basil leaves, roll length­wise, and slice very thinly to make a chiffonade; repeat with remaining leaves. Mix 3/4 of leaves into salmon bowl.

5. Spread salmon and vegetables in one layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake just until salmon is firm and barely flakes, 9 to 12 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon juice if you like, and season with salt.

6. Spoon rice into bowls; add salmon and vegetables. Top with remaining basil.

Weekly Winner:  Spectacular, Slightly-Spicy, Super Sloppy Salmon Sandwich

I was going to name this blog “Hey look!  I made a Muppet!” Seriously, this picture reminds me of some strange new Muppet character.  Can’t you just imagine it singing?? No? Oh well, maybe it’s just me. But this burger did in fact speak to me….it said “Dang, I’m tasty”.  There are a lot of elements to this Salmon Burger with Harissa Mayonnaise, but nothing is difficult.  The hardest thing was keeping the burger together while eating it.  It is a messy thing.  A very delicious messy thing.

This Muppet of a salmon burger comes from Food & Wine Magazine.  The only change I made to the recipe was that we didn’t grill these.  I couldn’t see the point of putting a skillet on the grill to cook them when I could just as easily cook them in the skillet on the stove top.  So that’s what I did. You do what speaks to you.

Salmon Burgers with Harissa Mayonnaise

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

Cucumber Relish

1 English cucumber—halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped dill

1 shallot, minced

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Harissa Mayo

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons harissa

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt

Pepper

Salmon Burgers

5 scallions, white and light green parts only, coarsely chopped

1 small red bell pepper, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)

1 small green bell pepper, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)

1 1/2 pounds skinless center-cut salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen for 30 minutes

1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

6 buns, split and toasted

Lettuce and tomato slices, for serving

Procedure:

MAKE THE CUCUMBER RELISH In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

MAKE THE HARISSA MAYO In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

MAKE THE SALMON BURGERS In a food processor, pulse the scallions and bell peppers until finely chopped; transfer to a medium bowl. Pulse the salmon in the food processor until finely chopped but with some bigger chunks remaining. Add the salmon to the bowl with the scallions and peppers and fold in the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and 1/3 cup of the harissa mayo. Using lightly oiled hands, shape the salmon into six 3/4-inch-thick patties. Transfer to a lightly oiled plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Light a grill. Set a large cast-iron skillet on the grill and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 2 tablespoons of the olive 
oil. Add 3 of the salmon burgers to the skillet; cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden brown and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining butter, olive oil and salmon burgers.

Spread some of the harissa mayo on the buns. Top with 
the salmon burgers, cucumber relish, lettuce and tomato slices and serve.

Weekly Winner:  Sumptuous, Citrusy, Cedar Salmon

We’ve been eating out a lot this month.  House guests, restaurant openings, dinner with friends – you name it. If there was an excuse to not eat at home, we used it. However, there comes a time when enough is enough and you just need to have a sensible, homemade dinner.  Generally when I get to that point, my go-to dishes are either pork chops or salmon.  As I wanted to lighten things up a bit, I opted for the salmon and this Mustard-Glazed Planked Salmon has been one of my favorites for quite some time.

The recipe comes from Coastal Living magazine.  It’s easy, keeps the house cool since its grilled and allows you to char up some wood – how fun is that??  The result is truly delectable salmon with a hint of cedar smoke, a mustardy punch and the sweet zing of orange.

Mustard-Glazed Planked Salmon

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 large cedar plank

4 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on sockeye salmon fillets

1/4 cup whole grain mustard

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 orange slices, halved

Garnish: chopped chives

Procedure:

1. Soak wood plank in water 1 hour; drain. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (350° to 400°).

2. Remove pin bones from salmon, if necessary. Combine mustard and next 5 ingredients in a small bowl, and brush half of mustard mixture over salmon, reserving remaining mustard mixture.

3. Grill plank 3 minutes or until grill marks appear. Remove from grill. Place salmon, skin sides down, on heated side of plank. Top with orange slices.

4. Grill planked salmon, covered with grill lid, 10 to 15 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. (Check occasionally to make sure edges of plank don’t ignite.) Garnish, if desired. Serve with reserved mustard glaze.

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