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: The Green Theme Continues … with Easy Peasy Soup

IMG_0435It appears I’m not quite done with my “Greening of the Menu”.  This is one big bowl of green! And while Spring Pea Soup with Spiced Cream is a welcome comfort on a cold rainy day, the peas, chives and swirl of cream hints that spring maybe… just maybe… is right around the corner.

The soup, which could not be easier to prepare, comes from Fine Cooking magazine and is ready in less than 30 minutes.  The only slightly unique ingredient is Za’atar, a spice blend that is available online, in spice shops, or at some better grocery stores.  There are also recipes online for making your own with spices and ingredients I guarantee you have in your pantry. The real magic of this soup is its simplicity, both in preparation and in flavor — there’s nothing to hide the taste of peas. The spiced sour cream is addictive!  Swirled in it combines with the warm soup to make is just slightly exotic tasting.

Spring Pea Soup with Spiced Cream

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling

1 medium sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise

1 small clove garlic, very thinly sliced

5 to 5-1/2 cups shelled fresh English peas or frozen peas (no need to thaw)

Kosher salt

3/4 cup (6 oz) sour cream

1 1/2 tsp za’atar

Cayenne

1 lemon wedge (optional)

3 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh chives

Flaky sea salt

Procedure:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until tender but not browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add 2-1/4 cups water and bring to a boil. Add the peas and 1-3/4 tsp kosher salt. Boil until the peas are tender, 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
  2. Transfer to a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth, adding water by the tablespoon to thin the soup if desired. Keep warm
  3. In a small bowl, stir the sour cream, za’atar, and a generous pinch each of cayenne and kosher salt.
  4. Taste the soup; if it seems a little flat, add a squeeze of lemon juice and stir.  Season to taste with salt.  Serve swirled with the spiced cream and sprinkled with the chives, sea salt, a pinch of cayenne and a drizzle of olive oil.