Normally, canned wild-caught red sockeye salmon is my go-to for salmon burgers — mainly because a can of salmon on the shelf means that we’re never more than 15 minutes away from an easy and tasty dinner. But two nights ago, we had about six ounces of salmon leftover from the previous evening, and I took a stab at turning it into salmon burgers.
The fact that five ingredients resulted in the best salmon burger ever should have been a good thing. Unfortunately, it rocked my world view on the virtues of canned salmon.
My new position on the salmon-burger subject: when grilling, baking or poaching salmon filets, think big and anticipate a leftover portion that could be repurposed into a burger or two the next day.
Discovery No. 2 for the evening: Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries are not only the same color as salmon burgers, they are an awesome combination.
6 oz. cooked salmon
3 oz. crumbled feta
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1 slice whole grain toast or bread crumbled in a food processor or sliced very fine.
I’m a big advocate of always being stocked with a can of red, wild-caught, Sockeye salmon. When in doubt, salmon cakes are always tasty on top of a salad — or rice. For most of the year, Pesto Salmon Cakes have been my go-to salmon cake recipe. Last night, without any pesto on hand, I whipped up a more standard batch of salmon cakes and was reminded just how many fish there are in that big sea of salmon cake recipes.
Broccoli Pancakes with Pesto. Seriously, these were delicious. One of my favorite blogs, Beyond the Peel, came out with a recipe for 3 Ingredient Savory Pancakes, and I had to try them immediately, largely out of disbelief that
2 cups chopped broccoli,
4 eggs and
2 Tbsp. of ground flax
zapped together in a food processor could turn into a game-changing pancake batter. They cooked up in a skillet with a little oil, just like a regular pancake.
Topped with warm pesto, we had the pleasure during dinner of experiencing something truly new under the sun. Gluten free to boot. Great for dinner, I can’t wait to serve these for a brunch and convert a whole new crew of doubters to the concept of a broccoli pancake.
It’s fairly recently that I’ve started pushing the envelope of pesto possibilities, stirring in a tablespoon of pesto here, spreading it liberally there, and discovering more and more reasons to love pesto.
Pesto is simply amazing. Packed with more flavor per square centimeter than any other item on the savory shelf, it also serves as a vehicle for some of the finest superfoods out there — garlic, olive oil, fresh herbs, walnuts, lemon juice. One could almost make an argument for popping a pesto capsule on days when it did not make it onto the plate.
What we’re talking about here are dishes that incorporate pesto — not recipes for pesto. But first, a few words on pesto itself. Earlier this year, I experimented with a Basil Arugula Parsley Pesto, which became my standby. Recently, I took a crack at a Basil Almond Pesto, and even though I’m thinking that might be my new go-to, I’ll never tire of new pesto possibilities. My only rule when making pesto: make a lot. A refrigerator that’s stocked with this wildly versatile standby tends to spark the creative juices.
Here are some more of the ways that pesto has managed to spice up our lives lately.
I bought a few ears at the Farmer’s Market. Shucked them. Immersed them in boiling water for a few minutes and was about to bring them to the table with a stick of butter and a shaker of salt — like I’ve done since I was 10 years old — and I stopped myself in my tracks thinking, “I wonder what a little pesto would be like instead.” There are those who would advocate mixing half butter and half pesto, and that’s one way to go. We went for straight pesto and loved it.
Pesto Pilaf. A side dish doesn’t get much easier (or better) than this: One cup of brown rice, 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the water is fully absorbed. Stir in 2 Tbsp. of pesto. Top with toasted, sliced almonds. Perfect.
Cheese and Pesto Sandwich. A cheese sandwich began as a very blah lunch-on-the run until I eyed some pesto in the fridge, spread some pesto on a slice of whole wheat bread, and added a slice of cheddar along with a few arugula leaves. The transformation to an entirely new sandwich stratosphere was immediate.
The next day, Sarah took the same concept and grilled it. Even better.
Pesto/Lemon Dressing. Equal parts pesto and fresh squeezed lemon juice. That’s all it takes to unseat the standard Dijon vinaigrette.
Pesto Frittata.Fun with frittatas — brunch, lunch or dinner — is a big theme around our kitchen these days. A recent addition of a tablespoon of pesto into five beaten eggs, took a potato, onion and tomato frittata up several notches.
Pesto Omlette. And next we have the obvious extension of the pesto frittata. Two large eggs, a tablespoon of pesto spread in the center, and about a half tablespoon on top.
Baked Salmon with Pesto. Once again, pesto comes to the rescue. 30 seconds is all it takes to transform a plain plank of salmon into a perfectly moist and flavor-packed filet. Spread about 2 Tbsp. of pesto across the skinless side of a 1 to 1 1/2 pound salmon filet. Wrap in foil and bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Pesto Salmon Cakes. I’m a big proponent of always having a can of wild-caught sockeye salmon on the shelf (as well as a container of pesto in the fridge), because it means that Pesto Salmon Cakes will always be an option. One 14 1/2 oz. can of red salmon, 3 Tbsp. of pesto, 2 eggs and 2 slices of whole wheat bread ground into crumbs, and that’s it.
Pesto Croutons. Bill could not be a bigger fan of homemade croutons and pesto couldn’t be a more perfect crouton mix. Combine 2 cups of cut up cubes of bread with 3 tablespoons of pesto mixed in with additional olive oil to ensure that the pesto spreads evenly. Toss gently until all of the bread cubes are coated and toast in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minute. Toss again after about 10 minutes and monitor closely to ensure croutons don’t burn.
Pesto Pasta. Serving as the poster child of this blog’s Auto Pilot page, pasta with pesto is where my love of pesto began — and the point from which is did not stray for many years.
Broccoli Pesto. And for a variation on the basic pasta with pesto, steam broccoli for a good seven minutes and mash it with a fork along with a few tablespoons of pesto. Mix with hot pasta and top with parmesan.
A very shallow dive into the Mediterranean Diet over the past week or so revealed that it does not require knowledge of the fish that swim in the Mediterranean Sea or the produce that grows near the shores of Alexandria or Morocco. That’s a good thing, because I did a little Google search on the fish that swim in the Mediterranean and found neither tuna nor salmon. What I did find was a very long list that included the Monrovia Doctor Fish, the Mediterranean Sand Eel, the Highfin Lizardfish and the Blackmouth Splitin — all of which sound scary and none of which are available at a fish counter in Austin.
Last week was indeed a big week for learning. After writing about some of my favorite foods, I’ve learned, once and for all how to spell tzatziki and spanakopita. So I’ve got that going for me.
Best as I can figure, aside from the absolute requirement of olive oil (cold pressed extra virgin) the Mediterranean Diet is fairly open ended, and just calls for a diet that’s centered around
Nuts, legumes and seeds,
Fruits and vegetables,
Fish, and of course,
It seems a given that we also need to add to the list: LOTS OF GARLIC.
Here’s a list of the recipes that I had fun with over the past week or so, along with a few other recent posts that appear worthy of inclusion in the Mediterranean Diet.
Greek Week moved a few hundred miles West down the Mediterranean last night for one of our longstanding favorites that can absolutely take a seat at the table of the Mediterranean Diet. While I suspect that my version of a Salade Nicoise might be lacking in authenticity, this is my story of what a Salade Nicoise is all about and I’m sticking with it.
4 hard-boiled eggs
10-12 extra small potatoes (red, white or purple!)
1 large can of white, Albacore tuna fish
Two medium tomatoes
12 oz. fresh spinach
1/3 cup Kalamata olives
(Fresh green beans did not make it to my list of 100 Ingredients this year, so I did not include them, but they are a welcome addition to a Salade Nicoise).
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Place 4 eggs in a pan of lukewarm water and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and keep eggs in the hot water for 12 minutes. Immerse cooked eggs in cold water. Peel and cut in half.
In another pan, cover potatoes with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until soft (about 15 minutes). If larger potatoes are used, cut into halves or fourths.
Cut tomatoes into wedges.
Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and Dijon mustard. Shake or whisk thoroughly.
Cover a medium-sized platter with fresh spinach leaves.
Drain tuna and add to the center of the platter.
Line with potatoes, tomato wedges and hard-boiled eggs. Add Kalamata olives to the top.