Friday, March 13, 2009

Easy Salmon with Butter and Olive Oil

I know lots of people are afraid of making fish - but there are some simple techniques that make it a snap.

The best one I know - roasting. Easy, no fuss, and usually - no mess.

Simple Roasted Salmon with Butter and Olive Oil

3 4 oz pieces of salmon fillets (make sure they are about the same size)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter cut into thirds (or the number of fillets you have)
salt and pepper

Note: You will want to use a small frying pan or other small pan that has sides - just big enough to fit the salmon without crowding, so the olive oil is about 1/8 inch deep and coats the pan. You are not looking to "fry" the salmon - but place it in enough olive oil so it doesn't stick and there starts to be a sauce in the pan.

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Put olive oil in bottom of small heat resistant frying pan so there is a nice layer of olive oil on the bottom of the pan.
3. Place salmon in the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes.
5. After 10 minutes, place one tab of butter on each fillet. Return to oven for another 5 minutes of cooking - or until just done (salmon should 'flake' - the salmon will continue cooking once it is removed from the oven)
6. Remove from oven and with a spoon, gently spoon olive oil and butter over fillets.
7. Serve and enjoy!

I served this salmon tonight with some quinoa mixed with diced carrots and peas for a quick quinoa pilaf and a salad. Simply follow the directions to make the quinoa (1 cup of quinoa + 2 cups of water bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until all water absorbed) and add some diced veggies at the beginning to the pot (essentially throw everything in together - simmer for 15 minutes and voila!)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring Peas, Asparagus and Pasta

It's almost Spring. I can taste it. Last week we had a couple of warmer days - even though it rained. And, you can just begin to see the buds coming out on the trees. Oh, it's there. Believe me! Personally, I cannot wait! Chicago has had a terribly long and snowy winter and the thought of walking around a farmer's market and starting to plan out our veggie garden makes me giddy (and thank you Target for putting out your garden stuff early... SO tempting!!)

Anyway, I digress.

Question, as always - what's for dinner? As we look toward spring, I want green. Lots of it. And I want peas. The best days are when early in the spring season you go to the farmer's market and there are FRESH peas - in the pod - so sweet. Unadorned, they are a great snack. Slightly steamed works too. In addition to peas, Spring makes me think of tender asparagus. Thin stemmed. Slightly steamed - delicious.

However, there are certain (ahem) wonderful significant others who really don't like asparagus. However, if you saute it (or roast it) - it loses a lot of the bitter taste and sweetens up. Pair asparagus with some fresh (or frozen) petite green peas - mix with pasta and you have a winner! If the kids don't go do sauteed veggies in their pasta, make everything separate (I always have a bowl of plain steamed carrots or peas just in case) and they can put it together as they like.

Spring Pasta with Asparagus and Peas
(serves 4)

1/2 box favorite pasta (rotini, etc... something that will hold up to the veggies)
1 bunch asparagus
2 cups fresh peas (or frozen)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh minced sage
kosher salt

1. Start making pasta (boil water, add salt, add pasta, etc...)

2. As pasta is cooking, prepare vegetables. For asparagus, snap off the ends (there will be a natural break where the stem is tough), and cut into 2 inch pieces (thirds).

3. Heat oil in pan. Toss in garlic and swirl gently so it doesn't burn. After about 30-45 seconds (before garlic turns brown), throw in asparagus. Cook for about 5 minutes, tossing gently so it is coated with olive oil and garlic.

4. When the asparagus turns bright green, sprinkle with a small amount of salt and pepper (layer the flavors people!!)

5. Toss in rest of ingredients (peas, sage) and saute gently until the peas are just bright green and warmed through.

6. By this time, the pasta should be done.

7. Drain the pasta, toss with the veggie mixture and serve with grated parmesan.

By the way, if you like a bit more of a "sauce," you can always add a bit of vegetable stock to the veggie mixture as it is cooking - about 1/2 cup should do - a tbsp or two of cream at the end (my family doesn't really do "cream sauce")

That's all folks! Enjoy!!