salmon

Spinach & Feta Stuffed Salmon

The other week we had a friend couple over for dinner and I got to test our my Spinach & Feta Stuffed Salmon again.  It was a crowd pleaser and, therefore, a keeper.  I used my original recipe that I included in my "Dinner Without a Plan" post but doubled the ingredients so that it could serve 4. I've included my updated recipe below.  Hope you enjoy it!

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SPINACH & FETA STUFFED SALMON

Serves 4

 INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 6 cups of fresh spinach

  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta

  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts

  • Four 6-ounce salmon filets (I used Coho salmon)

 

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DIRECTIONS:

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  1. In a medium-sized skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

  2. Add the fresh spinach to the skillet and cook until the spinach starts to wilt down, about 4 minutes or so.

  3. Add the ricotta cheese and feta cheese to the spinach and mix until it is all starting to melt and blend together and the spinach is completely wilted.

  4. Meanwhile, while the spinach mixture heats, add your pine nuts to another small skillet and toast on medium-low heat until they start to brown and become fragrant, about 4 minutes (watch these and you'll know when they are done. They start to brown and you can smell the nuttiness - so good!). You don't need to add any oil to the skillet because as the nuts heat they release their natural oils into the pan. I would actually take them off the heat before they are completely toasted because you will be toasting them again with the salmon and you don't want them to burn. When the pine nuts are done add them to the spinach & cheese mixture, incorporating well with a rubber spatula, and set aside.

  5. Now prep the salmon. Lay the filets out on a cutting board or baking sheet skin side down. Next take a small sharp knife and cut a slit lengthwise down the top of the filet, making something like a pocket to stuff some of the spinach mixture in.

  6. Divide the spinach mixture up evenly between the four salmon filets, stuffing each with a good portion of the spinach mixture (and some will rest on top of the salmon like in the picture).

  7. Spray a grill pan with vegetable oil or canola oil, heat it to medium-high heat and turn the oven broiler on high.

  8. Once the grill pan is hot, add your salmon filets and let those cook for about 5 to 8 minutes until you start to see it cook / turn light pink from the bottom up.

  9. Place your grill pan with the salmon filets under the broiler and let that cook for about 1 1/2 minutes or until the filets reach your desired doneness.

  10. When the filets have cooked to your desired doneness, use oven mitts to take the grill pan out of the oven. Allow the salmon to rest while you plate the rest of your meal.

  11. Serve the salmon hot and enjoy!

Chili Lime Spice Mix

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Remember back in the spring when I made those roasted salmon tacos by Ina Garten?  If you missed it, I made them right before Cinco de Mayo and they were one of my best discoveries yet.  If you are looking for a simple & delicious taco recipe I hiiiighly recommend you try this one.  It was basically "love at first bite" for me and this spice mix and after dinner I started to think up what else I could use it with.



Super Simple & flavorful Chili Lime Shrimp  Salad!

Super Simple & flavorful Chili Lime Shrimp

Salad!



Since then, I've used the rub for my Chili Lime Shrimp Salad.



Originally vegetarian dishes. But the Chili Lime Chicken on these Burrito Bowls was delish!

Originally vegetarian dishes. But the Chili Lime Chicken on these Burrito Bowls was delish!

I have also used it on chicken, which I added to a fall vegetable salad one week and burrito bowls another.  Both recipes were from the cookbook Eat Real Food by Kathryne Taylor.






WHY DO I LOVE THIS SPICE MIX?  I LOVE THIS SPICE MIX BECAUSE:

  1. There are only 3 ingredients!

  2. These 3 ingredients happen to be items I always have in our kitchen, so that's (1) less thought and (2) less groceries to buy.

  3. It takes no time at all to prepare!


This spice mix has come to the rescue several nights already and it is guaranteed to stick around as one of my go-to simple flavorings for meats and fish to add pizzaz to even the simplest weeknight dishes.  Here's how you make it.  I hope you enjoy it and that it helps you get some deliciously simple meals on the table like it has for us!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor


CHILI LIME SPICE MIX

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By Ina Garten

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt (or less if you prefer)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

  2. Toss with shrimp, salmon, chicken or flank steak.

  3. Cook your seasoned protein of choice.

  4. Serve and enjoy!

 

NOTE:  This original recipe was for about 1.75 pounds of salmon. (to serve 6)  You could double or halve the recipe depending on how many people you are serving.  I have done both and it's turned out delicious either way!

Dinner without a Plan

Tuesday night's dinner had pretty much no plan at all but turned into something really delicious!  I want to share it with you to demonstrate that just because you don't have a plan, doesn't mean you can't get something simple and tasty on the dinner table after a long day of work / school / practices / motherhood / fatherhood / etc..  I mean, some days you just can't. Period.  I totally get that.  Been there,  This, however, is for those days when you think you can't but you know you have just a little left in you.

We were out of town last weekend and so I didn't do my normal recipe brainstorm and planning.  However, when we got in town on Sunday evening I quickly ran to the store and bought items for big salads plus a few veggies and other staples.  I also knew I had some uneaten veggies from last week that were still good.  

My initial plan was baked salmon with lemon, a spinach salad and bread.  Nothing fancy but it was dinner and it would do.  I actually talked to my husband after work around 6:15 and we almost threw in the towel and went out.  But then we decided to stick with the plan of salmon and somewhere between picking up the salmon at the grocery after work and pulling into the driveway I had concocted a whole new dinner idea pulling together simple ingredients that I knew we had at the house.

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In this post I'm going to list the ingredients I used for this dinner and how I went about getting it all on the table in about 30 minutes.  I didn't measure anything so these are ball park amounts.  I'll make it again and update with exact measurements in one of the upcoming weeks.  However, I think that's the great thing about cooking, sometimes measurements don't have to be exact.  You can play around with it to your liking and it can still be great!  

Before I give you the rundown of dinner, I want to leave you with 3 take-aways to remember so that you can create your own weeknight dinners when you have no specific plan in mind.

 

THREE THINGS TO REMEMBER FOR DINNERS WITHOUT A PLAN:

  • Always have your favorite go-to ingredients stocked in the fridge / pantry. They will be so handy when the unplanned dinner rolls around! (For me this includes things like: feta or goat cheese, a bell pepper, an onion, mushrooms or summer squash, dried herbs, fresh whole grain bread, quinoa or pasta)

  • Tasty & healthy dinners don't have to be complicated. If you have a few great herbs and spices, you can have a delicious dinner!

  • It's ok to keep parts of the meal basic. I used to feel like every part of dinner had to have it's own recipe and be something glamorous. Then I realized (a) that's a lot of pressure for one weeknight meal and (b) that's just not how it has to be. For this meal, I focused on the salmon, then kept the veggies fairly simple and our starch even simpler with one of our favorite hearty whole grain breads toasted in the toaster. Protein, veggies, complex carb, DONE!

 

FOR THIS DINNER YOU NEED:

  • Two 6-ounce salmon filets (I used coho salmon b/c it's a little meatier and a little less "fishy")

  • About 2 to 3 cups of fresh spinach

  • About 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

  • About 1/4 cup of part-skim ricotta cheese

  • About 1/3 cup of pine nuts

  • Pinches of salt, for the spinach stuffing and for the veggies (maybe about 1/4 tsp total but taste test if for yourself)

  • Pepper, to taste

  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced and then each slice halved (so you end up with half circles)

  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, cored and chopped into about 1/2 to 1 inch dices

  • 1/2 white onion, peeled and sliced into half moons

  • About 2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

  • About 1/2 tablespoon Herbs de Provence seasoning (or more, if desired)

  • 2 slices of whole grain bread (we used the Seeduction Bread from Whole Foods)

 

HOW I PULLED THIS ALL TOGETHER:

  1. My thought process on the drive home that got me from plain baked salmon & spinach salad to what was actually on the dinner table went a little something like this....... "Can I step it up a notch so that dinner is a little more interesting? I really don't want a salad if I think about it. I know I have an extra pepper in the fridge and, oh yeah, the rest of that zucchini that I didn't make last week (if it's still good. I'll have to check that). And what if I stuffed the salmon?! I know I always keep feta in the fridge and I bought some ricotta last week for something I now honestly can't remember, ha. And toasted pine nuts take everything up a notch! Yep, I think this will work". That's how deep my thought process went - clearly, not too complicated.

  2. I got home and found an onion to add to my veggie medley, which was perfect. I quickly sliced up the yellow bell pepper, zucchini (which I found to still be good) and half of that white onion.

  3. In a small skillet, I heated about 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium low heat. To that I added about 2 to 3 cups of fresh spinach, about 2 tablespoons of crumbled feta (I used the last of what we had) and about 2 big spoonfulls of part-skim ricotta so about 1/4 cup, I would say but you could use a little more if you want.

  4. While the spinach wilted and the cheeses all melted together (you need to stir these a little) I heated about 1 - 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Once that was heated I added my sliced peppers, zucchini and onions and let those cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies were softened and browned and the onions looked caramelized (probably around 15 minutes or so). A few minutes into cooking the veggies I added one of my favorite seasonings, Herbs de Provence, and a pinch of salt, stirred and continued to let those cook over the stove while I finished the rest of dinner.

  5. After I got the veggies started I added about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of pine nuts to another small skillet and toasted on medium-low until they were browned and fragrant, about 4 minutes (watch these and you'll know when they are done. They start to brown and you can smell the nuttiness - so good!). You don't need to add any oil to the skillet because as the nuts heat they release their natural oils into the pan. When the pine nuts were done I added them to my spinach & cheese mixture, incorporated well with a rubber spatula, and set aside.

  6. Then I prepped my salmon by cutting a slit in the top of each filet and creating sort of a pocket. I then divided my spinach-cheese mixture evenly and stuffed it into the "pocket" of each salmon filet. I sprayed a grill pan with vegetable oil , heated it to medium-high heat and turned my oven broiler on high. Once the grill pan was hot, I added my salmon filets and let those cook about 5 to 8 minutes until you start to see it cook / turn light pink from the bottom up. I then put my grill pan in the oven under the broiler and let that cook for about 1 1/2 minutes.

  7. While the salmon cooked I gave the veggies another stir and then turned the heat as low as it would go just to keep them warm. The veggies should cook in about 15 minutes.

  8. After 1 1/2 minutes I used oven mitts to take the grill pan out of the oven. While the salmon cooled down just a smidge I toasted 2 slices of whole grain toast in our toaster and set the table. When the toast was done, I prepared each plate adding a stuffed salmon filet, big scoops of warm veggies and the slice of whole grain toast.

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This was delish!  The stuffing was mild but had a little bit of a bite from the feta and a nuttiness from the toasted pine nuts.  The veggies were tender but not mushy and the toast was simple but just as good as always.

I hope this post not only leaves you with a new recipe idea but that it also encourages you and helps you get dinner on the table the next time it's 5:30 PM and you haven't yet really thought dinner through.  Remember to use what you have, keep it simple, get creative & don't be afraid to play around with ingredients.  Sometimes the best things happen when you don't have a plan!

 

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

Salmon Nicoise Salad

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Hello, friends!  It's been quite a while since my last post.  This season has been a packed one that seems to have flown by.  I was super excited to get away this Memorial Day weekend.  Kyle and I took a trip to the ranch, which meant no phones or computers or social media - just family, exploring, reading, writing and grilling.  It was just the right balance of exploration and rest. We navigated our way along streams that opened to fresh pools of cold water surrounded by the greenest grass (a very unique find in the Texas - New Mexico desert) and we made ourselves at home on the large rocking chairs that lined our front porch with plenty of reading and writing material in hand (& morning visits from our peacock friend, which you know about if you saw my IG post, ha).  Given the time and lack of technology, I got to catch up on all of my fun reading, brainstorm new recipes and articles, and start making progress on recipes I have been wanting to post for some time now.

As summer is quickly approaching, I thought getting my Salmon Nicoise Salad up would be a good first step.  It's fairly simple to throw together and, although a salad, it is hearty enough for a filling and satisfying weeknight or weekend dinner.  Not only is it simple and filling but wild salmon is also reaching its peak season as we speak, making it a perfect time to give this recipe a try!  Parts of this salad can also be prepped ahead of time, which is great if you're making this for company and want more time to talk and hang out vs being in the kitchen. I'm excited to finally get this recipe up and here it is - my Salmon Nicoise Salad.  It's recipe that friends and family have enjoyed these last few months and I think you will enjoy as well!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

 

SALMON NICOISE SALAD

Serves 3 - 4

INGREDIENTS (for Salad):

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  • Two 6-ounce salmon filets

  • 1/8 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

  • Pepper, to taste

  • 1 medium lemon, sliced into 6 thin slices

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced (about 4 cups diced raw)

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, to cook potatoes

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced lengthwise

  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed

  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives (drained of juice)

  • 2 tablespoons capers (drained of juices)

  • 3 cups mixed greens

  • Champagne Vinaigrette - see recipe below

INGREDIENTS (for Dressing):

  • 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard



DIRECTIONS:

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Dressing whisked!

Dressing whisked!

Olive mix & greens tossed together with dressing and added as base of dinner plate

Olive mix & greens tossed together with dressing and added as base of dinner plate

Layer roasted sweet potatoes, steamed green beans & flaked salmon to dish. Serve with the roasted lemon slices.

Layer roasted sweet potatoes, steamed green beans & flaked salmon to dish. Serve with the roasted lemon slices.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and place both salmon filets on baking sheet.

  3. Sprinkle salmon filets with a pinch of salt and cracked pepper (<1/8 teaspoon salt on each).

  4. Top each salmon filet with 3 slices of lemon, covering the length of the filet and set salmon aside.

  5. Line separate large baking sheet with parchment paper (may need 2 - see step #7).

  6. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the sweet potatoes, 2 teaspoons of olive oil and 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

  7. Spread the potatoes out onto the large prepared baking sheet (use 2 baking sheets if the pan gets too crowded).

  8. Place sweet potatoes in the preheated 400 degree oven on the top rack and cook for about 35 minutes, flipping the potatoes about 15 - 20 minutes into cooking. If cooking potatoes on bottom shelf, turn or stir about 10 minutes into cooking to prevent burning on one side.

  9. While potatoes cook, add capers, olives, tomatoes, and mix greens to a bowl and set aside.

  10. Now start the green beans.. Fill a medium pot with about 1/2 - inch water and bring to a boil. Add the steamer basket to the pot followed by the green beans. Cover the pot and allow beans to steam about 5 minutes. After the beans have cooked, turn the burner off but leave beans in the basket covered to stay warm.

  11. When the potatoes have about 15 minutes left, add the salmon filets to the oven and cook for another 15 - 20 minutes (cooking time of salmon will vary. A general rule is to cook the salmon 10 minutes for every inch thickness).

  12. While the salmon & sweet potatoes cook, make the dressing by whisking together all dressing ingredients. Or add to a small jar and shake really well!

  13. Add about 1 tablespoon of the dressing to the greens-caper mix and toss to combine.

  14. After the last 15 minutes, remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and turn the oven on broil, cooking just the salmon filets about 1 more minute. The lemons will brown and caramelize slightly. Remove from the oven.

  15. Now that all items are cooked, to a dinner plate: Place 1/2 salad mix. Add 3/4 cup green beans to one side of plate. Add 3/4 cup of sweet potatoes to another side of plate. Flake the warm salmon in the middle.

  16. Serve with the remaining dressing, caramelized lemon slices and warm crusty bread.

  17. Enjoy!

 

NUTRITION NOTES:

Green Beans:  folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A

Sweet Potatoes:  beta carotene (vitamin A), vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese

Lemons: vitamin C

Dressing:  monounsaturated fat, vitamin E

Salmon:  omega 3 fatty acids, protein, B12, selenium

Spinach:  vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, iron

FUN NUTRITION FACTS - SALMON

Did you know what the different types of salmon mean?  I didn't really until recently when I asked the man at the fish counter about it and then read an article on it in my new Cook's Illustrated magazine.  Yes, knowing the difference between these can play a role in what you choose from a nutrition perspective, but it may also help your friend or family member like salmon!  Salmon can certainly be a fishier fish, but some varieties are more mild than others.  Here is a brief rundown of what I now know....

WILD SALMON (Coho / King / Sockeye) - leaner, tougher, a stronger flavor

FARM RAISED (Atlantic / King salmon) - milder flavor, more omega-3's (fattier fish), a softer, flakier texture (some say "buttery").

Want more details on the salmon varieties?  There's a good overview here. (Thanks Cook's Illustrated!) or here (thanks Food & Nutrition magazine)!