Spice-Roasted Salmon with Green Beans and Rice

The whole spring-forward-daylight-savings-thing is a killer. In spite of the fact I tried to go to bed early last Saturday night, I was dragging every morning thereafter. My distaste was only slightly dampened by noticing sunlight later in the evenings. If only there was a way to experience the thrill of extra daylight without losing sleep. Can’t the clock switch from 4:00 to 5:00 pm on a Monday?

I really didn’t feel like cooking when I got home from the gym last Tuesday evening. I was tempted to make my dinner out of a mishmash of snacks and cheese; maybe I’d go as far as to open some boxed pasta or a can of beans. The fact that I had fresh fish in the refrigerator, waiting to be cooked, meant I needed to overcome these impulses.

I’m glad I sucked it up. It doesn’t take long to put together a fresh, complete weeknight meal like this, getting in my omega 3s and vitamins. Green beans and salmon cook quickly (especially with subjective measures of done-ness, so you can be even quicker if you want) and rice is hands off. I only had to chop 3 small things and measure a couple of others. Easy breezy!

The spice seasoning for the fish is garam masala. I have been making garam masala by toasting fresh whole spices at home, and one of the last times I made it, I made a pretty large batch.
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While we’re on the topic of spices, I have a reason to mention my spice cabinet organization.
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As you can imagine, it can be hard to keep track of a dozen little by-the-ounce plastic baggies of spices. Occasionally I relocate them to other empty spice containers, but they take less space in the bag. I found stackable plastic flat containers at the Container Store which have 6 shallow compartments. I can arrange several spices front to back in the compartments. Then I label the front with dry erase marker with each item in order. This way, I can see what I have with a quick glance, and I’m maximizing the space.
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What’s my organizational scheme for the rest of the spices? Well, you know how it is with your own kitchen. I just have a feel for where to find certain ones, particular ones that are used together in the same recipes. This is one of the reasons it is so utterly challenging to cook in someone else’s kitchen, isn’t it? (At least, the majority of someones who don’t alphabetize their spices.)

Back to the cooking! A note on timing and temperature: the steps to this meal include boiling some basmati rice, blanching the green beans, sautéing the green beans, and pan-roasting the fish. My husband will tell you, I have a “thing” about my food being served at the proper temperature (and I pay close attention to this at restaurants). That usually takes the form of me wanting hot food to be served noticeably hot. You’re going to want to eat your salmon freshly cooked, so it should be the last thing you finish, obviously. I wanted to minimize dirty dishes, so, while the rice was cooking, I blanched the green beans and then sautéed them first in the same pan I planned to use for the salmon. While the salmon was finishing up later, I gave the beans a quick reheat in the emptied blanching pot.

Then everything got cold as I was taking pictures, of course. No one ever mentions that!

Spice-Roasted Salmon with Yogurt Sauce
For 2
Adapted from Cooking Light

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 sustainable salmon fillets, 6 ounces each
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt,
divided
about 4 Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, 2% preferred
1 Tablespoons green onions
, thinly sliced, plus extra to garnish rice
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 lemon
, cut into wedges

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat.

Sprinkle fillets evenly with garam masala and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add fillets to pan, skin side down. Cook about 7 minutes; turn over, and cook 1-2 minutes or until desired degree of done-ness and temperature.
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While the salmon is cooking, combine ingredients for the sauce. Whisk 2 1/2 teaspoons oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, yogurt, green onions, and lime juice in a small bowl.

The original recipe called for a combination of creme fraiche or sour cream and yogurt for the sauce. I only had Greek yogurt, which is my go-to substitute for creme fraiche and sour cream anyway, so I used the yogurt alone. It still tasted great to me.

Dollop mixture onto fillets, when serving, along with lemon wedges on the side.


Indian-spiced Green Beans

From Martha Stewart Living

1 teaspoon kosher salt
, plus more for seasoning
1 pound string green beans, stem ends trimmed
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 large or 1 small yellow onion (about 4 ounces
), thinly sliced into rounds or half-moons
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced

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Remember, you can keep your fresh ginger in the freezer to make it last so much longer!

Remember, you can keep your fresh ginger in the freezer to make it last so much longer!


Bring a pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Once water is boiling, add 1 teaspoon salt and string beans.
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Cook about 3 minutes (the beans should turn bright green), and drain into a colander. Transfer to ice bath and slosh the beans around. Drain again.

Set the large skillet over high heat, and add vegetable oil. When hot, add mustard seeds, and cook about 30 seconds, until seeds start to pop.
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Add onion, and cook, stirring until they begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add ginger, and cook 1 minute more. Add reserved string beans, and cook, stirring until hot. Season with salt to taste.
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Dinner is served! I realized later that my salmon was incorrectly placed here with the skin side up.

Dinner is served! I realized later that my salmon was incorrectly placed here with the skin side up.

Mmm, that's better.

Mmm, that’s better.

Healthy Choice

Remember the leeks from the broccoli soup recipe? Well, the store doesn’t sell leeks individually — you have to buy several — so I had some left over.  I also wanted to use fish in a meal I cooked one of these days.  As you may know, one of the those recommended habits for healthy eating is incorporating 2-3 servings of fish per week, to gain the benefits from healthy fats.  This meal was going to be shared with my husband for once, and while quite fit in general, Matt’s blood work has shown that he could improve his cholesterol levels.

I came across a recipe on the Food Network website by Ina Garden for “Salmon with Lentils.”  Subsequently, while searching for a particular recipe among my saved selections and reading through several, I discovered that leeks and salmon and leeks and lentils are common combinations. I am going to try to store this tidbit in my memory for future planning. This recipe also used–surprise surprise–more celery and carrots from my refrigerator stock.

Salmon with Lentils

adapted from Ina’s Barefoot in Paris

Serves 2 plus 1-2 servings of leftovers

Ingredients
6 ounces lentils (I had this much left of black beluga lentils I bought in a whim with a gift card to Williams Sonoma. These are great lentils though, if you can find them, and they work well in place of green lentils, which could also work here).
a few tablespoons of olive oil
1.75 cups chopped yellow onions
1.5 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (Leeks can acquire a lot of dirt and grime during harvest. To prepare, cut to separate white and light green part from green leaves. Cut once lengthwise. Submerge in a bowl of cold water and slosh layers around. Drain and then arrange pieces together to chop crosswise).
3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup homemade chicken stock, or good canned broth
1.5 tablespoons tomato paste (Hint: when you open a can of tomato paste, which rarely needs to be used in its entirety, measure individual tablespoon amounts into small pieces of plastic wrap or into ice cube trays and freeze.  Keep scoops together in a container for later use)
1.5 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
6-8 oz center-cut salmon fillets, in the quantity of the number of people you are serving (in my case, 2, wild-caught all the way)

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Place the lentils in a heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 15 minutes, then drain.

Heat oil in a medium-large saute pan.  Add the onions, leeks, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. 
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Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the drained lentils, celery, carrots, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Add the vinegar and season to taste.

While the lentils are simmering, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

For the salmon, heat a cast-iron or other oven-proof saute pan over high heat for 4 minutes. Rub both sides of the salmon fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

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When the pan is very hot, place the salmon in the pan and cook over medium heat without moving them for 2 minutes, until very browned. Flip fillets, and move pan into preheated oven.  Cook 5-7 minutes, until the salmon is cooked rare and still moist. Scoop lentil-vegetable mixture on plates and place a salmon fillet on top.
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Enjoy your meal, and look forward to the dessert you can afford to have because you made a healthy choice for dinner! 🙂