Mediterranean Salmon Salad (2nd Salmon dinner for the week)

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Thank the good Lord for dinners that you don’t have to put together from scratch……and just because they’re made from “leftovers” doesn’t mean that they have to be boring, or even the same thing you just ate.

Remember this happy little piece of salmon from the other night? The cute guy on the right with just a little bit of EVOO, salt and pepper?

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Well, for this dinner, he’s front and center.

Now, I have a confession to make. This whole combo of flavors and ingredients for this meal is not my original creation; I got the idea after eating a very similar salad at Panera this past summer. But, it’s only served seasonally, and after making a special trip there just to order that salad and finding out it wasn’t on the menu and having a mini-meltdown, I thought it would be a good idea to make my own. So this is my take on it, from what I remember.

So, you gotta start out with some lettuce for a salad, right? If I had the time to pick up some fresh field greens, I would have gone with those. But alas, life happens, and after an emergency trip to the vet for my poor little Zelda who hit her eye, it didn’t happen. I always have romaine hearts in my fridge, so I knew I would still be okay.

Another confession- I absolutely hate washing and drying off lettuce. Abhor it. Almost as much as I hate buying the pre-washed and chopped lettuce in a bag that goes slimy in 2 days and having to throw it out and wasting my money. So, while I may not own tons of fancy cooking gadgets, I do own a cheap salad spinner which I absolutely love.

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So once I have my nice clean lettuce that’s been torn into bite-sized pieces, I can start to adorn my green foundation: I have here 1/2 of my cooked piece of salmon,chopped walnuts, feta cheese, red onion, mandarin orange sections, kalamata olives (the purple ones), and some croutons. I can say with certainty that there were no croutons on the Panera version, but I love croutons and will add them to pretty much any green salad I am having if at all humanly possible.

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So now to assemble a citrus vinaigrette! I started with a good splash of orange juice (maybe 1/4 cupish, if you’re measuring), a spoonful of dijon mustard, a pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, and whisked in some extra virgin olive oil until it looked and tasted like a dressing. If I had a fresh orange, that juice along with some of the zest would have been wonderful, but it was fine with the orange juice I already had at home.

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Fancy shmancy chefs will say that you should toss your salad with the dressing in a bowl before serving. I say, eat your salad the way you want. Often times, I will toss everything together before serving as opposed to pouring the dressing on top of everything, but I didn’t want to toss my salmon and have it break up into lots of little pieces. So, I went for the pour on top method here.

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Looks pretty. Tastes yummy. Healthy, AND super quick to put together, because I took a little extra time when I was making dinner for the night before. All reasons this is a winner for me!

 

 

Honey-Mustard Glazed Salmon with Lentils (Dinner 1 of 2 Salmon Dinners)

ImageFlavorful salmon on a bed of lentils, flavored with bacon. A super yummy, not-so-complicated dinner!

If you don’t eat pork, you can omit the bacon. If you don’t have chicken broth, you can use water.

To feed 2 people, you will need

For the main components:

About 3/4 lbs of salmon filet, I am doubling this to cook extra for tomorrow’s dinner

1 cup of lentils

4 slices of bacon

1 med shallot (or 1/2 a small onion + 2 gloves of garlic, minced)

3 big or 4 petit baby carrots

2 cans of chicken broth

For the honey-mustard glaze:

2 big spoonfuls of dijon mustard

2 big squeezes of honey

a couple pinches of fresh or dried thyme, if you have it

For the lentil dressing:

a big spoonful of dijon dressing

a splash of OJ (a couple of tablespoons)

a couple of tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

And, of course, salt and pepper to taste for all components

So let’s get started! I have chopped up the bacon into smaller pieces and thrown them into my pot for the lentils over med high heat. They will start to cook up and render their fat in the pan.

I always find that when I take off my bacon just a bit before I actually think it’s done, it comes out crispy and perfect.

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While my bacon is working it’s magic, I chop up my shallot and carrots. You may have noticed that I measure the amount of carrot I use by unit of baby carrot….is this unconventional? Yes. But, that’s how I buy my carrots. They are already clean, peeled, and ready to go. and I can use them in their current form, or I can chop them up as I need them. If you have regular carrots, I would use 1/2 to 1/3 of a whole normal sized carrot. Be thinking of me while you have to peel and clean that sucker……because I skipped those steps!

I love shallots. If you have never worked with them, they are like a cross between an onion and garlic, with a great not-overpowering flavor. So as I mentioned above, you can substitute some onion and garlic if you don’t have any shallot on hand.

Also similar to garlic, it can burn easily and doesn’t taste very good if it does, so I would thrown in the chopped carrots for a minute first, then add your shallot. Since this is going to all cook in with the lentils anyway, we are just cooking a bit first for flavor.

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So once the bacon has become crunchy and delicious, remove from the heat and place on a paper towel lined plate. And just try not to eat it all while the rest of the meal is coming together!

Now, it’s time to throw in our chopped veg. (If you have decided to omit the bacon, you would first heat up a couple of tablespoons of EVOO, then add your veggies.)

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You want to cook just for a couple of minutes, because as I mentioned above, the shallot can burn quickly!

Then, it’s time to add the lentils and cooking liquid; broth or stock if you have it, water is fine if you don’t.

ImageThen it’s time to put a lid on it, and move onto salmon and dressing prep. They can take a good 40-45 minutes to cook, so I set a timer for 20 minutes, and then put my salmon in the oven once it goes off, so that everything is done at the same time.

The honey mustard glaze could not be any easier…….it’s literally just equal parts of honey and mustard. So it is easy to adjust for however much you need.

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Then you slather it with love on your salmon. I am making 2 meals worth of salmon, and tomorrow’s meal doesn’t call for it, so I am only covering the salmon being used for this meal with honey mustard. I cut down into individual servings first, but that’s not necessary. I also sprinkled with a bit of dried thyme, though I would have used fresh if I had it on hand. Not totally necessary, but I think it gives it a little extra somethin’.

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I am a follower of the Pioneer Woman method for cooking salmon: a whole piece in a cold oven, set to 400 degrees, baked for 25 minutes.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/07/pams-day-of-deliciousness/

Since I cut off smaller individual pieces first, I pulled those out at about 18 minutes, and continued cooking the larger piece for another 5ish minutes.

So whilst the salmon and lentils are working away, I make the dressing for the lentils. Right in the same bowl I made the salmon glaze; they both have dijon mustard and a sweet element, so no need to dirty another bowl!

I add my dijon mustard and orange juice to the bowl first, and then whisk in some EVOO until I have dressing, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper at the end. This is just to dress up the lentils, but we don’t want them drowning in it so it may not look like much, but we don’t want a ton. Just enough to flavor.

Hopefully, your lentils and salmon will be finishing up at about the same time. When you pull the salmon out, there will be some black burned areas where the glaze spilled over on the foil, but don’t fret, because we are removing the salmon from the foil and skin for serving, so it won’t be seen or tasted.

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You know the lentils are done when they taste tender throughout, not hard/crunchy in the middle. I like them soft, but not too mushy. They will need to be drained from the extra cooking liquid.

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Add back to the pot, mix in the dressing, then the bacon that was cooked at the very beginning of the dish.

ImageAnd now all you have to do is plate it up, and enjoy it! I like to take a couple of big scoops of lentils and create a nice bed in the middle of the plate for the salmon, which I remove from the skin and place on top. And I like to eat it with some good, crusty bread.

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You want to get that good bite of salmon, bacon and lentils all on the same fork…..

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This makes a nice dinner for 2, with some leftover lentils you can enjoy the next day. The boyfriend review gave this 2 enthusiastic thumbs up, and was pretty stoked about the leftover lentils…….he’ll be enjoying them with his staple snack of corn tortillas heated on our gas stove, and queso blanco.

AND, I’ve already got a great start on tomorrow’s dinner!