Monday, August 11, 2008

Salmon on request . . . with homemade Pesto!

Recently a friend who had read and loved my Caesar Salad post texted me desperate for a few quick and easy Salmon recipes. So Huffy, in honor of your text, I thought I'd make one of those tonight and feature it here.

The recipe that follows is one that I usually make with store bought pesto, but having purchased a huge bunch of basil at a farmer's market last week . . . what was a girl to do but make pesto to ensure that it didn't go bad. I'll share the recipe for pesto also noting that if you keep prepared pesto on hand like I do, this makes for a super quick meal that is flavorful and easy.

Pesto Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Greens (serves 2)
  • 2 4-6 Oz pieces of Salmon, size it to your calorie needs, fresh or defrosted frozen (see my tip below)
  • 2 Tbsp Pesto (store bought is fine, but I just learned how easy it is to make my own . . . see below)
  • 1 C Quinoa
  • 2 C Water
  • 2 Oz Lowfat Feta, cubed
  • 10 Grape tomatoes diced
  • 1/2 Avocado, 1/4 diced & 1/4 sliced
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3 C Mixed Greens & Baby Spinach
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinaigrette (see various options on my Summer is for Salads Post)
  • 1 Oz Lowfat Feta, cubed
  • 6-8 Grape tomatoes sliced
Place both the quinoa and the water into a small pot and bring to a boil with the lid closed, immediately reduce heat to low. Keep the lid on and heat on very low until the quinoa is cooked and looks fluffy. This will take approximately 20 minutes. FYI - the quinoa LOVEs to boil over in my kitchen. This is not a disaster, just a little messy. So keep an eye on it as it goes from simmer to boil over within just a few moments.

While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the salad & salmon. Spray a baking dish that fits the salmon with Pam or another non-stick cooking spray. Rinse the salmon with cool water whether you have just purchased it or defrosted it; pat dry with a paper towel. Place the Salmon in the pan and top each piece with 1/2 of the pesto, spreading it so you get good coverage on the fish.

When you only have about 10 minutes left on the quinoa, place the salmon under the broiler set on high. The fish will take between 8 - 12 minutes depending on your cut of salmon, oven and preferred doneness. I, blasphemy, like mine pretty well through and find that 11 minutes does about right.

While the salmon is broiling, chop the ingredients for the quinoa and green salads. Toss the greens with dressing, feta and the tomatoes. Put the remaining quinoa salad ingredients in a bowl, feta, tomatoes, avocado, salt & pepper.

The salmon should be done, remove it from the oven and let it sit for a moment while you assemble the rest. Toss about 1/2 of the quinoa into the bowl with the feta mixture and mix well. Split the quinoa salad on the two plates, top with the salmon and accessorize with the green salad.

Voila! Quick and easy meal that can take less than 30 minutes once you get the multitasking down, and leaves you with some quinoa left overs for tomorrow. If you make more salmon, it tastes pretty good cold tomorrow too . . . just a time saving thought . . .

Tips & Tricks from Kir's Kitchen

Home Made Pesto: I love the Sunset Valley Farmers Market here in Austin and almost always buy basil when I am there (sadly I don't have a green thumb, else I'd grow my own:). But it is rare that I can enjoy it all fresh within about 3 days . . . so I have taken to chopping it up and just putting it in a tupperware covered with olive oil. I can then use it as is to cook with or as I was inspired to do for pasta yesterday, throw the basil oil combo in the cuisinart with a piece of garlic and some pine nuts (maybe 1/2 cup of basil oil, 1/2 cup pine nuts & 1 clove garlic - but you can tweak to your own specs). Done and done. Actually, I added a little salt and pepper, but it was so simple and fresh. Yummmmm . . .

Salmon: We buy our Salmon at Costco - shocker I know - and then I portion and freeze it. This is much cheaper than buying fresh each day, gives me flexibility to have it on hand and lets me ensure the quality and freshness personally. The trick is to cut the salmon in proper portions first, then rinse it, dab it dry and wrap it in saran wrap. These wrapped packets should then be placed in freezer bags and as much air removed as possible before you freeze them. I find that putting them in the fridge the night before has them defrosted & broil ready when you come home from work.

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