It was, again, one of those nights. I felt in a rut with meal making, but it also was a long work day, and I needed to find something I could make fast. In general, I'd like to eat more seafood, but often feel daunted by the 1. prices, 2. origin or fishery method, or 3. mercury levels or whatever other potential toxin is sadly found in the world's seafood from the pollution of our oceans. Also, truth be told, I feel a little nervous about cooking fish--only in the sense that I feel it would be really easy for me to screw it up.
But salmon seemed a safe choice, and the fishmonger at Central Market had a nice tray of Irish certified organic salmon to sell, which I was pleasantly surprised to see.
Lately, I've been relying on the New York Times Cooking app for meal ideas. The recipe I quickly landed on for tonight's dinner did not disappoint. It helped, too, that it fell under the category of Fast Weeknight Dinners: Salmon with Anchovy-Garlic Butter.
It was so good, I wish I had taken pictures of it--but in my rush to get everything on and everyone to the table at once, while everything was still hot and our two year-old still compliant, I skipped the photo session. I'm sure the NY Times picture will do it better justice anyway.
I had a tin of sardines in my cupboard, bought over a year ago in a fit of nostalgia for my discovery of and newfound love for them while on our honeymoon to the Greek Islands. In my research for writing this, I learned that anchovies and sardines are indeed different; but I only found that out afterwards, so I can attest to the sardines (packed in olive oil) to be a worthy substitute. The anchovy-garlic butter was easy to make--although mine turned out to be more like a paste than something you could spoon over the fish as the recipe suggests. I'm sure more butter and patience would cure that mild deficiency in technique--but I really liked it that way, as a kind of thick rub blanketing the salmon. After clearing our plates, I honestly ate bits of the roasted fish skin, anchovy butter and charred capers out of what remained in the cast iron pan, it was that good.
If anchovies/sardines aren't your thing, I also ran across this easy recipe that looked just as delicious (also dairy & gluten free):
Roasted Salmon Glazed With Brown Sugar and Mustard
Along with the recipe for its suggested accompaniment highlighting the cool weather loving vegetables of the season:
Simple Braised Greens
For sides I cooked 1 cup of forbidden black rice in our rice cooker (2 parts water to 1 part rice, after rinsing the rice well), and then chopped up a head of rainbow chard (leaves and stems) and half a red onion, all of which I sautéed in olive oil and sea salt. In total, the cooking time for everything (I even cooked this while talking on the phone, which is no mean feat for me to multitask) was around 30 minutes.
A couple hours later, sitting in front of my computer and typing as I thought of this post, I began thinking about that afternoon in Greece--a once of a lifetime vacation, worthy of a honeymoon. I try to be adventurous with food while traveling--not that sardines are that exotic; after all, they are a pretty cheap and humble food as we know them here. But this particular way of eating them, as actual whole fish served on a plate instead of crammed in an oily tin, was a novelty for me at the time. I also noticed them on every taverna menu--they made up a typical, workday lunch--a given, just like traditional Greek salad and the perfect, crisp, homemade wine that were drank in every village, served chilled in little steel or glass pitchers.
We were on a small boat touring the famous pirate caves and rock formations of Kleftiko beach off the island of Milos, with maybe 2 or 3 other couples, the captain and his skipper. Lunch on these types of tourist cruises is included in the price--and this one was the most memorable for its simplicity, time and place. After snorkeling and snapping pictures, the captain cut the engine and passed around lunch. There was one plate of fried sardines, one bowl of Greek salad, one pitcher of ouza, and two forks. For everyone. What might seem strange and unsanitary here was presented with good-natured hospitality then--helped on by the fact that we were all on a boat, surrounded by the clear blue Mediterranean and cloudless sky, occasionally happening upon fishing villages suspended in time, with their multicolored house fronts carved into the cliffs. And, assuredly, every one of us on that boat passed around those two forks and bowls several times, each one of us taking a bite and passing it on until it came around again and was gone. There may have been a collective pause of uncertainty at first--but in the end, the camaraderie of the shared experience, the sunshine, ouza, and the swells rocking under the boat, memorably won the day.
So not only did I get a great meal from this found recipe, selected at random and during that weekday dinner decision duress that usually comes upon me at 4pm--I got a memory back, too, thanks to this little tin tucked back in the cupboard, like so many memories.
Broccoli and it's many close and distant cousins are making an appearance now--and the blue-green heads of brassica bunched and bound with a bright red band are always appealing at market this time of year. But if you want to change up your weekly menu a bit, while still getting all the great flavor and nutrients of broccoli, look for broccoli rabe (sometimes also called rapini).
Broccoli rabe, while also in the brassica family, is more closely related to the mustard plant. But it has edible leaves, slim stalks and little flowering buds similar to broccoli, and it's just as easy to cook. It's slightly sharp flavor and mild bitterness are a nice accompaniment to fattier meats like pork, but we've also eaten it with steamed clams or mussels and a baguette in these cooler months. You can also make classic Italian pasta dishes using nothing more than a good olive oil, spaghetti, fresh garlic, red pepper flakes and pecorino to keep it vegetarian, or add some pork or chicken sausages (Rooster Street Provisions at Central Market has excellent ones with interesting flavor combinations) or pancetta or white beans. The New York Times recipe column even features broccoli rabe on its own in a lasagna. But if you want to keep it simple, like I do 9.9 nights out of 10, all you have to do is:
Who We Are
Green Circle Organics specializes in local and organic produce, dairy and minimally processed, locally produced foods. Since 2003, we've been operating out of the historic Lancaster Central Market, providing a channel for farm fresh, organic and specialty foods to reach city dwellers and visitors. Check here for recipe ideas using the seasonal produce and other goods we sell at our market stand and for our Produce Box home delivery service.