We all have those nostalgic recipes lurking in the back of our minds that evoke a sense of the past, maybe childhood or home, when we make them and eat them. Perhaps for you it’s your grandmother’s “top secret” recipe for chocolate chip cookies or your aunt’s best-ever potato salad. Maybe it’s the first recipe you and your spouse made together or the one thing you remember eating over and over again in a college dorm.
I have more than just one nostalgic recipe that holds a special place in my heart. But today I’m going to share with you a twist on a near and dear one: all the flavors of salmon loaf turned into a dressed-up salmon salad.
Doesn’t every little kid love salmon in a loaf? I know I did. My mom always seemed to make it just right. Her recipe was simple: just salmon, breadcrumbs, an egg, chopped vegetables (usually onion, celery, and bell pepper), and sometimes mayonnaise all mixed together and baked in a loaf pan. Unmolded from the pan and cut into slices, it was a tasty supper served alongside some warm peas and roasted potatoes. I haven’t had salmon loaf for a long time now, being gluten-free and all, but I do enjoy a good salmon salad every once in a while. Not only is this healthy meal gluten-free and dairy-free, it also replaces the mayo with a bit of olive oil for richness instead.
It was thinking back on Mom’s salmon loaf that got me inspired to make this salad. I tossed together Mom’s classic combo of onion, celery, and bell pepper along with some canned wild salmon and a splash each of olive oil and lemon juice (Mom always served lemon wedges alongside her loaf). To sort of wrap the side dish of peas right into the salad, I threw in a handful of those as well for a pop of sweetness and color. Served up on a bed of greens, this delicious salad had all the flavors and colors of Mom’s salmon loaf but none of the breadcrumbs or mayonnaise that make it a bit indulgent.
When I took a bite of this salad—though it’s quite deviant from Mom’s original salmon loaf recipe—the memories came galloping back to the front of my mind: Mom in the kitchen stirring up ingredients with her trusty wooden spoon (which she still has, by the way)…reaching over the counter to give me a few strips of celery to nibble on…sitting down at the table as a family to chat about how the day went and enjoying a satisfying meal together.
Does life get much better?
I guess that’s why we have memories. To keep us mindful of what life used to be, of the simple pleasures we once savored, of the people close to us who we continue to love through the years, and of all the time stretched out ahead of us like a canvas ready to be spattered and splotched with new memories.
What are your nostalgic recipes?
Dressed-Up Salmon Salad – Serves 1
3 oz. (half can) canned wild salmon, drained and flaked into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup each: chopped bell pepper, celery, and onion
A few cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh or dethawed frozen peas
Splash of olive oil and lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 cups mixed greens
In a small bowl combine salmon, vegetables, tomatoes, peas, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Mix it all up well and spoon onto a bed of greens. Serve.
Looking for a crunchy gluten-free cracker or slice of flatbread to go along with your salad? Check out these recipes:
- Whole Grain Flatbread - from Ali of The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen
- Sesame Crackers - from Elana of Elana’s Pantry
- Gluten-Free Crackers - from Lauren of Celiac Teen
By the way, over the winter I devoted a whole entire post just to canned wild salmon. Head on over here to read it and find another tasty salmon recipe. It’s such a versatile and healthful ingredient. I always have some stocked in my pantry.
This post is linked to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday.