Sometimes a dish comes out so good that I regret not taking pictures for the blog of my preparing it. Then, all too often, dishes like these get lost in my files and are never written up here. Well, last night, I prepared such a dish and decided to blog about it even though the only photos I have were taken after it was cooked.
Perhaps the pandemic’s blurring of time, Passover seemed to creep up on us unexpectedly on Saturday afternoon. As a result, I hadn’t planned anything for our first Seder. Almost all of our meat was in the freezer and wouldn’t defrost in time for dinner. That’s when my calmer better half suggested fish as an alternative. We had plenty of salmon on hand, and although that too was in the freezer, it only required a couple of hours to defrost.
Once again, the recipe highlighted in today’s post was suggested by my better half, who informed me that we had a haul of salmon in our overcrowded freezer that needed to be pared down. The recipe, “Orecchiette with Salmon, Arugula and Artichokes” is by cookbook author Grace Parisi and comes from the December 2012 issue of Food and Wine.
When one hears “comfort food,” I’d bet most people wouldn’t think immediately of fish. But when I read Ina Garten’s recipe for pan-seared salmon in her latest cookbook, Modern Comfort Food, the photograph illustrating this “pretty-in-pink” dish prompted me to make it.
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.)
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
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.)
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)
2 cups Israeli couscous (I went for quick cook, regular couscous.)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I omitted the butter.)
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.
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
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.