Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Dinner last night
I was so pleased with my dinner last night that I figured it deserved the illustrious distinction of being my first cooking post. Even though I only cook for one person, I try to make enough to have leftovers for lunches for a few days. I only really have time to cook on weekends and Tuesday nights, because I have MCAT and dance classes the other nights. So Tuesdays often end up a foodie night of happiness.
I went to the market yesterday with absolutely no concept of what I would make for this week's lunches. I often just wander around the produce section picking out things that look good (seasonal, local, and organic are all good clues). Then I'll look in my cart and say, "Ah ha! This looks like a German meal, so I'll get some chicken to crackle." Or maybe, "This looks like a killer homemade pasta sauce, so I'll make sure to get enough parmigiano reggiano."
Yesterday, before I finished my rounds through the produce, I was caught by something even yummier: salmon! Relatively cheap beautifully red sockeye salmon, to be exact. I don't cook much meat, fish included (blame it on learning much of my cooking in a strictly vegetarian house), but I love salmon so much that sometimes I give it a go. I also don't tend to make three separate dishes, like this meat/vegetable/grains pairing, preferring instead to put everything into one pot for a stew or casserole or something. This is directly related to my hatred of washing dishes. But you know what? It turned out pretty darn good! I didn't use any sort of recipe, so here's my best attempt at recreating my meal for you:
Baked Salmon with Quinoa and Beet Greens
1 1/4 lbs. good salmon filet (mine was all one big piece, but individual filets would work too)
1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C soy sauce
1 C quinoa
2 C water
1 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic
green tops from 3-4 beets, or approximately one big bunch
1. Preaheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the salmon skin-side down in a glass baking dish or jellyroll pan. Sprinkle brown sugar on top, then soy sauce. It should be covered all over, but not sitting in a big pool of sauce or anything. Season top with black pepper, and let marinate a bit.
2. In a small pot, combine 1 C quinoa with 2 C water and a big pinch of salt. Heat on high until boiling, then turn down to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
3. Once your oven is hot (my oven takes a while, so by that I mostly mean once your fish has marinated ~10 minutes), pop the salmon in for 10-15 minutes. I baked mine for ten, ate some, and then reconsidered and put it in for about three minutes more. If you're cooking individual filets instead of one big piece, reduce the time. You want the albumin (that white protein stuff) to seep out a bit, but don't overcook! It should still be bright pink, not opaque pastel pink, in the center.
4. Meanwhile, wash the beet greens really well and pat dry. Break off only the hard red rib, saving the leafy part for later. Coarsely chop the ribs and the half onion into about 1/4 inch pieces. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, add the onions/beet ribs and a pinch of salt, and give them a stir to coat the olive oil evenly. Mince at least four cloves of garlic and throw that in the pan, too. Leave it alone for a while, stirring occasionally.
5. While your onions are cooking, chop the beet greens into strips. The easiest way I've found to cut up big leafy veggies like chard, kale, and beets is to lay 4-6 leaves on top of each other, roll them into a little compact log, and then use a chef's knife to cut off 1/4 inch slices.
6. Everything should be coming together at this point: Quinoa is cooked when it's all tan and transparent, without any white dot in the middle. Fluff it up with a fork to separate the grains a bit. When the fish is done, pour about a tablespoon of the yummy soy sauce/sugar/fishy juices from the pan into the onion/beet ribs mixture. Add the chopped leafy greens, and sautee for about two minutes until they're wilted but not smushy.
7. Plate each dinner with a big scoop of quinoa, some beet greens, and a serving of salmon on top. Ta da! A delicious, nutritious, totally amazing dinner.