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Archive for the ‘Seafood’ Category

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?

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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:

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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.

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One stretch of warm weather—by which I mean 60-degrees—and I’m already cranking out salads for every meal! With the balmy temps and sunny skies, my thoughts have turned to lighter cuisine airing on the cleansing side. Nothing tastes better than a big entree-size salad after a long winter of warming, hearty foods.

Last week I posted about greens and how they are such a delicious facet of spring. Shortly after I wrote that post I came up with the recipe for this salad featuring a tender mix of baby greens as the base. Use whatever blend of greens you like or that are in season. I made the salad with a few handfuls of spicy baby arugula, some tender spinach, and a little bit of romaine for some crunch.

Regarding the fish for this salad, feel free to use whatever is available and suits your tastes. I used tuna steaks, which I marinated in a splash of orange juice, olive oil, orange zest, and black pepper and then grilled. I’m eager to make this salad again with wild salmon or halibut, both of which I prefer over tuna but just didn’t have around at the time I first made the recipe. Of course, if you’re not much of a fish eater you could certainly swap in grilled chicken as well. But with spring on it’s way and, yes, even summer not far off, my tastebuds are asking for the light but satisfying flavor of fresh fish these days.

The dressing here is just your basic vinaigrette sweetened up a bit with some orange juice and made a tad crunchy with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. One of my biggest pet peeves is when a salad is over-dressed—in other words, swimming around in a gallon of dressing on the plate. So if the dressing here doesn’t seem like enough to you, that’s why. I air on the side of less when I dress things, especially vegetables, since I like to taste the flavor of the actual ingredient being dressed and not just a plateful of dressing. But if you prefer a more heavily dressed salad, I give you permission to double the dressing recipe and douse on as much as your heart desires. I’ll never know.

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Grilled Fish and Baby Green Salad with Orange Sesame Dressing – Serves 4

For the salad:

7-8 cups mixed baby greens such as arugula, spinach, and romaine

3/4 – 1 lb. firm fish such as cod, halibut, tuna or salmon, grilled or broiled and flaked into bite-sized chunks

1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded

3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/4 medum red onion, thinly sliced into rounds or half-moons

1 avocado, diced

For the dressing:

2 tbs. olive oil

Juice of 1/2 large orange

1 tbs. red or white wine vinegar

1 tbs. sesame seeds

1 tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Arrange the greens on individual plates or a large platter. Top with the flaked fish, shredded carrot, peas, red onion slices, and avocado cubes.

In a small bowl whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until emulsified. Drizzle evenly over the salad and serve.

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Looking for more delicious recipes as you usher in the spring season? Check out Slightly Indulgent Tuesday over at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

 

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Photo courtesy of Brianna Tittel

Five weeks. Five ingredients. Five mouthwatering recipes.

I’m so excited! Today marks the first week of the five week blog series I am doing on 5 Pantry Essentials. Here’s the deal: for the next five weeks, I’ll be posting a different ingredient each Tuesday that should be stocked in every cook’s pantry. I’ll list what the ingredient is, some need-to-know nutritional information about it, what makes it an essential, and how to use it creatively. There will also be a featured recipe each week to go along with each ingredient. Ready to get started? I certainly am!

 Week One: canned wild salmon.

 

Nutrition Spotlight

  • Save your skin: salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. According to research presented in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, omega-3s may act as a shield for the body’s cell walls, therefore preventing them from getting free radical damage. Free radical damage leads to premature aging and early wrinkle formation. Eating omega-3s in salmon, even as little as two 3-ounce servings of the fish per week, will give you a good start on combatting cell damage and saving your skin.
  • Go wild: when consuming any type of fish, it’s always important to choose wild-caught whenever possible. Studies have indicated that farm-raised salmon can have up to 11 times more chemicals and pollutants in it than wild salmon. One study revealed that PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls, which the Department of Health and Human Services has determined are cancer-causing carcinogens) are up to 10 times higher in farm-raised fish than wild-caught. The wonderful thing about canned salmon is that it’s almost always wild. Be sure to scour labels just in case, though. If it’s not clearly stated that the salmon is wild Pacific or Alaskan fish, don’t buy it. Call the manufacturer first to double-check.
  • Protein: salmon is a super source of protein, which may help to curb carb cravings and decrease the appetite when eaten in proper amounts. Whether you choose to have a scoop of salmon salad atop a bed of greens for lunch or enjoy a bit of canned salmon with some whole grain crackers for a snack, it packs a big protein punch that will help you stay satisfied.

 

What Makes it Essential

If nothing else, canned salmon is very versatile. Because it flakes up easily with a fork into bite-sized pieces, canned salmon is perfect for…

  • Topping salads in a pinch
  • Adding to fritattas or omelets for added protein and flavor
  • Combining with a little plain yogurt and lemon juice for a quick salmon spread
  • Mixing with whole grain pasta and veggies for a delicious and hearty pasta salad

Stock a few cans of salmon in your pantry for days when you need a quick protein to go to for lunches or dinners. Good quality canned wild salmon is widely available in markets across the country such as Whole Foods, but here’s another source available for purchase online.

 

The Recipe

Today’s recipe features canned salmon in these delicious Salmon-Potato Cakes. They are kind of like crab cakes (except with salmon, of course), but contain no gluten or dairy. Serve these up with a tossed vegetable salad for a light and nutritious supper or lunch. If you can tolerate dairy, they would be tasty topped with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream and a sprig of parsley for garnish.

Come to think of it, these cakes would make a lovely addition to a breakfast or brunch buffet as well. You could even experiment with serving them as a healthy appetizer at parties (hint, hint: Super Bowl!).

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Salmon-Potato Cakes – Makes 8 small cakes

2 small (or 1 large) Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into cubes

2 tbs. olive oil, divided

Pinch of salt

1 14-oz. can wild salmon (or 2 6-7 ounce cans), drained, skin removed, flesh flaked with a fork

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 tbs. parsley, finely chopped

3 tbs. scallions or red onion, finely chopped

1 tbs. ground flaxseed meal

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Lemon wedges (optional), for serving

In a small pot, cover potato cubes with cold water and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cook until tender when pierced with fork, 10-15 minutes. Drain and—using a fork—mash potatoes with 1 tbs. olive oil and a pinch of salt. Place 7 tablespoons of potato mixture in a large mixing bowl. (Reserve any remaining potatoes for another use.)

To potatoes in mixing bowl add salmon, egg, parsley, scallions, flaxseed, and pepper. Mix well until all ingredients are combined and cohesive. Form the mixture into 8 patties of equal size. (To get evenly sized patties, divide mass of salmon mixture into quarters. Then divide each quarter in half to form one patty.) Chill salmon cakes in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.

Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet or griddle pan. Add salmon cakes and cook 4-5 minutes per side until golden. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

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Be sure to stop by next Tuesday for Pantry Essential #2. You won’t want to miss it! Until then, enjoy your salmon cakes and omega-3s!

(This post is linked up to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Fight Back Friday.)

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I make salmon for dinner probably once a week or at least once every other week for several reasons. Not only is it super healthy and full of good fatty acids, but it also pairs well with almost any side dish. It tastes great as a leftover and–because it is a firm fish–holds it shape well after being refrigerated for a day or two.

Last night, as I was preparing a couple of salmon filets, I got to thinking about how I could dress them up a little. Weeknight suppers can get to be so hum-drum, if you know what I mean. After a while I just get weary of preparing salmon the same way all the time. Not that salt, pepper, and lemons aren’t delicious (they are!), but sometimes you need a change of pace and new flavor palatte to work with. Lemons are lovely, but they aren’t the sort of thing I crave in late October. Isn’t it funny how your tastes can change so dramatically with the seasons?

I ended up pairing sweet-but-tangy honey mustard with some chopped walnuts as a topping for the salmon. It was so easy and quick, I was a little worried it would come out tasting bad. (For some reason I often fool myself into thinking that only difficult, laborious, “gourmet” meals are the tasty ones. It turns out that sometimes the best meals are the ones thrown together in a flash.) Surprise! The combo was great. Crunchy walnuts, sweet mustard, flaky salmon. A perfect trio.

I served the salmon with a nice big salad and some smashed red potatoes. Smashed potatoes are the lazy cook’s way of making mashed potatoes, but certainly not lacking on flavor. To make them, boil up some red potatoes (with the skins on) until they are tender. Drain them off, then return them to the hot pot. Add a splash of cream(for me this was about a 1/4 cup), a few tablespoons of salted butter, a handful of finely chopped parsley, and any other herbs or spices you’d like. I usually throw in some garlic powder and a salt-free blend of dried herbs I get from Penzey’s Spices. Mash everything up with a potato masher, the back of a slotted spoon, or even a fork. Keep them sort of chunky and “rustic” looking. Then give the potatoes a taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.

Now. On to the salmon recipe. You’ll probably be able to read it in less than 30 seconds. That’s how quick and easy it is! Enjoy.

 

Honey-Mustard and Walnut Crusted Salmon

2 (6 oz) salmon filets, with skin

2 tbs. honey mustard

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup raw walnuts, chopped finely by hand

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees. Place salmon in a baking dish, skin side down. Spread honey mustard on salmon filets with a spoon. Sprinkle the salt evenly over each filet. Divide the walnuts among the salmon and–using your hands-gently press onto the honey mustard to adhere.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until salmon is cooked through and walnuts are lightly browned.

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Tonight’s dinner was a delicious combination of local summery flavors. 

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Above is a flavorful Brown Rice Salad with parsley, dill, farmer’s market tomatoes and onion, celery, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Just combine whatever veggies you’ve got lying around with some cooked brown rice.  It’s different every time I make it, but always delicious!

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Our other side dish at dinner were these green beans, above, from a local farm about 20 miles away.  They are completely organically grown and so good!  I cooked them in boiling water for 6 minutes, then tossed them with a light vinaigrette: 2 tbs. olive oil, 2 tbs. white wine vinegar, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tsp. minced dill.

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Pictured above are a few pieces of Roasted Salmon atop Sauteed Kale…the picture doesn’t do it justice.  It’s very tasty and prettier in “person.”  To saute the kale, just chop up a big (and I mean big!) bunch of it and throw it in a skillet with a bit of olive oil.  Season simply with salt and pepper after it has wilted, which takes about 2-3 minutes.  Before roasting the salmon, I brushed it with a bit of Sungold Tomato Preserves from the farmer’s market.  The jam is made from tomatoes, which gives it this earthy and savory flavor.  It was superb as a glaze on salmon, but I’m sure it would be equally tasty over chicken breasts.

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