My cooking brain is sometimes most creative when first given a few desperate (or not so desperate) things with which to work. For example, it’s cool to see there are almost-spotted sweet potatoes on the counter, bell peppers in the fridge shrinking, and come up with dinner. I like a conservative approach to cooking and often think of the old, “Waste not, want not” adage. I’m not perfect at using every tidbit, but I work on it. I hate throwing things away.
Last week I had some olives and peppadews leftover from a birthday antipasti tray and had just bought a bag of frozen, wild salmon fillets — two pounds for $22.00. A real bargain. You know how I love salmon.
Eggplant, red bell peppers (and a few other things) languished–leftover from making a veggie lasagna. I needed dinner in a half hour. I stuck the individually-sealed salmon fillets in a pot of water to thaw and made the nearly-instant couscous. Next, a quick sauté of the eggplant with peppers and onions while grilling the asparagus. 4 minutes in the grill pan for the salmon and I think it was done just about exactly in the time I had allotted. Try this, making the components in the order that suits you:
SALMON ON EGGPLANT SAUTÉ WITH OLIVES AND PEPPADEWS
serves 4 (If you only want two servings, the remainder of the vegetables and couscous are great for lunch or with eggs.) Watching carbs? Skip the couscous.
Fish on vegetables, or cooked in vegetables, are among my favorite dishes to create, cook, and/or eat. Quick, healthy, and sexily rich in flavors, this exuberant all-in-one dish comes together pretty quickly. Voila! Dinner. Faster than ordering out or getting in the car to go to a restaurant. Keep some cryovac salmon in your freezer, couscous in your cupboard, and fresh vegetables on your counter; you’ll be ready to cook! No olives or peppadews? Try capers OR a little fresh lemon juice or splash of red wine vinegar will suffice.
- 1 box Near East Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil Couscous
- 3 cloves garlic minced, divided
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons raisins, currants, or other dried fruit
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 4 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 1 small eggplant, peeled, trimmed, and diced
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- Kosher salt, pepper, crushed red pepper or Aleppo pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (Turkish)
- 1/4 cup red wine
SALMON AND GARNISHES:
- 4 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
- Canola or peanut oil
- Chopped olives and/or peppadew peppers, optional garnish (about 2 tablespoons for each serving)
- 1/2 pound grilled or cooked asparagus or green beans, optional
- MAKE THE COUSCOUS AND SET ASIDE: Heat two teaspoons olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan and sauté one of garlic cloves with the raisins for a minute or two. Pour in 1 1/4 cups water bring to a boil; add 1/2 of the seasoning packet (reserve the remainder for another use or toss). Stir in couscous. Shut off heat and cover couscous until needed, fluffing with a fork before serving.
- COOK THE EGGPLANT WITH THE OTHER VEGETABLES: (You can also grill or cook the asparagus now if using.) Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet or sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat over medium flame. Cook onion and peppers for 2 or 3 minutes; add mushrooms and eggplant. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and the teaspoon of oregano. Cook, stirring regularly, until vegetables are tender, adding the chopped tomato and the other two cloves of minced garlic and the red wine for last few minutes. (Wine should be incorporated; mixture should be thick.) Taste and adjust seasonings. Cover and keep warm while you cook the salmon.
- GRILL OR PAN-COOK THE SALMON: Heat a grill, grill pan (stove top), or heavy skillet over high heat until very hot. Brush the salmon well with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the fillets skin side down on the grill or pan and cook about 3 minutes one side, partially covered as this splatters plenty. Lower heat a bit, turn salmon, and cook another 3 or 4 minutes or until salmon is firm, but very tender and moist with crispy skin. (Serve medium-done.)
- PLATE AND SERVE WITH GARNISHES: If serving 4, divide couscous evenly among the plates or shallow bowls and top with at least a half-cup each of the eggplant mixture. (If serving 2, use about 1/2 cup each of the couscous and the eggplant mixture, reserving remainders for leftovers.) Top each serving with a salmon fillet. Garnish with olives and/or peppadews, adding asparagus or beans if desired. Grate a little black pepper over the entire dish. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
WINE: Red Rhone (France or try a California “Rhone”)
The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish, such as salmon, at least two times per week. The recommended serving size of fish is 3.5 ounces cooked or 3/4 cup of fish flaked. To reap the most health benefits from salmon, prepare it by baking, steaming or grilling. The American Heart Association states that salmon contains two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, which work to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Or my a bit more complex…. Salmon on Lentil Risotto with Mushrooms and Fresh Greens:
Sing a new song,