Slow-Roasted Salmon

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Sometimes when entertaining you need to adjust your menu to a guest’s needs. For a recent dinner party, I was planning a menu around grilled baby lamb chops, when one of my friends called and announced that she just had gone through oral surgery. “Chewing may be a problem,” she said.

Although a meatloaf was the first dish that came to mind as a replacement, I opted for a more elegant alternative: slow-roasted salmon with cherry tomatoes and couscous that I haven’t made in quite a while. The center-cut piece of salmon slowly roasted over a bed of herbs would pose no problem and the tomato and parsley studded couscous would be an easy-to-chew side.

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Cherry Tomatoes and Couscous from Bon Appetit. (Click here for the original recipe.)

INGREDIENTS
YOGURT SAUCE
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used full fat.)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt

SALMON
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided (I didn’t measure, but used considerably more, especially in the pan.)
1/2 bunch dill fronds
1/2 bunch thyme sprigs
1 3-pound piece center-cut skin-on salmon fillet, preferably wild king, pin bones removed (I opted for farmed salmon, which almost eliminates hunting for pin bones.)
Kosher salt
8 ounces small cherry tomatoes on the vine (optional)

TOMATOES AND COUSCOUS
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons za’atar (optional)
Kosher salt
2 cups Israeli couscous (I went for quick cook, regular couscous.)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I omitted the butter.)

PREPARATION

YOGURT SAUCE
Mix first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined. Season with salt. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

SALMON
Preheat oven to 325°. Pour 4 Tbsp. oil in a roasting pan just large enough to fit the salmon. Make a bed of herbs in bottom of pan; top with salmon, skin side down. Drizzle salmon with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil and season with salt. Top with tomatoes, if using. Bake until salmon is just cooked through in the center (a small knife will slide easily through flesh), 25–30 minutes.

TOMATOES AND COUSCOUS
Toss tomatoes with 3 Tbsp. oil, parsley, and za’atar, if using, in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.

Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add couscous and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain couscous; transfer to a large bowl. Stir in butter and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil. Season to taste with salt. Gently fold tomatoes into couscous.

Use a large spoon or fork to serve salmon, leaving skin in pan. Serve with yogurt sauce and couscous.

Wine Pairing: Pinot Noir, Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc

Asian Grilled Salmon

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Friends are always surprised when I cook something other than Italian. But once in a while, a little change is good.

Tuesday is typically a fish night for us, and we hadn’t had salmon in quite some time. So I turned to one of my go-to recipes for it: Ina Garten’s Asian Grilled Salmon. (The link will take you to the recipe.) It’s perfect for a weeknight meal, with minimal prep and maximum flavor.

Salmon fillets marinate for around 10 minutes in a blend of olive oil, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and minced garlic. Half the marinade is reserved for a sauce. Rather than mincing the garlic, I use a microplane rasp and also add some rasped fresh ginger.

The fish grills for about 4 to 5 minutes a side and is served with the reserved marinade.

As a side, I prepared a quick cooking couscous tossed with some cherry tomatoes, chopped basil, zahtar, and olive oil.

When you don’t have a lot of time and want something homemade, this salmon and side can be on the table in under an hour.

For wine, I chose a 2013 Mille Sauvignon Friuli Grave DOC. Not as grassy as some new-world entries, it’s fresh and crisp with good citrus notes. At around $17 for a liter bottle, it’s a wonderful value.

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Fregola with Manila Clams

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Last night we had a tasty dish of fregola (Sardinian couscous) with Manila clams. The attached recipe is from BBC television cook Nigella Lawson. The link below to the BBC site also has a helpful video of the recipe.

Lawson calls for tomato puree, which is actually a concentrated tomato paste. I used an imported one from Italy that comes in a tube. After adding it to the pan, I let it toast slightly while stirring it before I added the broth and the vermouth. I think toasting the paste makes for a deeper tomato flavor.

For the small clams called for in the recipe, I used the Manila variety, which I find have a delicious briny sweetness to them. Note that the clams may take a minute or two more to open than the 3 minutes called for in the recipe. Shaking the covered pan may help the clams to open.

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This is a quick and easy to prepare dish for a weeknight meal.  And if you don’t have fregola in the cupboard, it’s worth a trip to your Italian specialty store or an online search to find some. Here’s a link to the BBC Recipe.

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I paired the dish with a 2013 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare, a Rhone-style blend rosé. A crisp dry rosé, with hints of strawberry on the nose and an earthy minerality, it was the perfect complement to the briny fregola.

Wine Pairing: Dry Rosé, Dry Riesling, Pinot Grigio