Rosemary Salmon with Balsamic Green Beans and Tomatoes

Rosemary-Salmon

My daughter can eat salmon any time, any where. For my last birthday, we were at Disneyland and had lunch at The Blue Bayou, a nice restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Little Miss O orders salmon, of course. When it arrives, she grabs it off of her plate and hoofs it down in 2 minutes flat, and eats it just like it is a burrito.

Needless to say, salmon is probably the most popular dinner in the Fearless Flying Kitchen.  This is also the dish that means I will always have a rosemary plant growing somewhere at my house. I don’t know what my family would do if salmon just up-and-disappeared one day.

I have made other (very delicious) versions of salmon, some with pesto and tomatoes, others with a miso glaze, but the hubs always tells me that this very simple preparation is the best. And I would have to agree! it is easy, simple and delicious.

We usually alternate the veggie that gets served along side. This time, I decided to fancy up a bag of green beans with a little balsamic glaze and grape tomatoes.  In the past, I have also added some chunks of goat cheese, which is always a plus in my book.

Now, I don’t think you can talk about salmon without bringing up the different types you can purchase and their overall controversial nature.  (Didn’t know salmon was controversial?! Now you do!) These two articles (one from The Cleveland Clinic, the other from The Washington State Dept of Health) do a great job with taking the research that is out there and outlining the pro’s and con’s to consider when choosing between wild or farmed salmon. In a nutshell, farmed fish is more readily available, costs less, has slightly more omega-3’s, and to some (self included) it taste better. But it also has a bit more saturated fat and calories, and with that extra fat, it stores more pollutants and carcinogens (such as PCBs). Either type of salmon is not considered to be high in mercury, with farmed salmon being lower in mercury than wild. Regardless of which option you choose, salmon has a lot of health benefits, such as omega-3 fatty acids (great for your brain, eyes and heart and just keeping inflammation down in general) and it is a great source of muscle building protein. So, I would recommend including salmon in your healthy diet, try the wild first, and if that isn’t possible, farmed is fine…but keep it to a weekly meal as opposed to a daily occurrence.

Rosemary Salmon and Balsamic Green Beans

Getting this salmon party started!

Start by pre-heating your oven to 400 degrees, and then prep your salmon. I always purchase salmon that has the skin still on, but it really doesn’t matter what type you purchase. If you do purchase the “skin-on” salmon, just make sure you discard the skin prior to eating. Most of the salmon is already de-boned that you purchase from Trader Joe’s, but I have, on occasion, come across some tiny bones, so I always rub my finger across each fillet to make sure I can’t find any hard spots.

Prepare your baking sheet. You can place the fillets directly on the sheet, or if you want an easier clean-up, place fillets on top of foil or parchment paper. Pour a little drizzle of Olive Oil over each fillet, and rub in. Then sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and sea salt. As I previously said, I always have a rosemary plant (originally purchased in the Garden department of TJ’s) that I can go raid, but you can also purchase organic rosemary in a small package from the refrigerated section. Pop that bad boy in the oven for 15-18  minutes (depending on the size of the fillet). You’ll know it is finished if you insert a fork in the fillet and it flakes and will not appear “raw.” Know that there will be some carry-over cooking in the few minutes after it is removed from the oven, so if it is still slightly pink, that is ok. You will also notice that the white fat starts to appear on the top and sides of the filet.

While your salmon cooks, prepare your side items. For these green beans, I simple sautéed them in a little bit of Olive Oil for a few minutes, then added tomatoes and the Balsamic glaze. If you are following a low-carb diet, then your dinner would be done at this point. If you are a member of my family, you love your carbs, so we always have microwave brown rice in the freezer to serve alongside meals like this. Easy peasy.

Voila! Gourmet dinner that will impress, with minimal effort!

Rosemary Salmon

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 Salmon Filets
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary, chopped fine
  • Sea Salt, to taste
  • Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Place salmon filets on a baking sheet, skin side down (if there is skin). Run finger along the meat to make sure no bones are present. Drizzle a tsp of olive oil on each filet. Then adorn with rosemary, salt and pepper. Place in oven for 15-18 minutes, or until it no longer appears pink and “raw” on the inside. Remove from oven and let rest for about 3-5 minutes before serving.

Balsamic Green Beans and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 Bag of Organic Green Beans
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp (approx) Balsamic Glaze

Directions:

Add a small amount of olive oil to a skillet and turn heat to medium-high. When hot, add green beans and sauté until they start to soften. Throw in cherry tomatoes and a squirt of balsamic glaze. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until tomatoes just barely start to break down. Add more or less balsamic glaze to taste.

Grilled Polenta with Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade and Perfectly Perfect Artichoke

Come on, get appy! No, not an iPhone app, not an appendectomy…an appetizer!

I could eat appetizers all day long. Cheese boards. Baguette. Hummus. Artichoke and spinach dip. Everything just seems to be more decadent and taste better when it is in amuse-bouche form (in fact, quit what you are doing right now, and do a google image search of amuse-bouche. ooooooohhh, aaaaaahhhh). And quite honestly, if I were on Top Chef, this would be my specialty, because I LOVE hors d’oeuvres.

Fun fact about me: I once co-hosted a book club with my best friend just for the appetizers.

Any way, I am sure you can imagine that I try to pass off appetizers as “dinner” from time to time. For some reason, I always feel like it would be transformed into a “meal” if we added a simple salad. Here are some from my repertoire:

Polenta and Artichoke

Left: Grilled Polenta with Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade
Right: Perfectly Perfect Artichoke

Perfectly Perfect Artichoke

Ingredients:
  • 2 Artichokes
  • About 2 cups veggie broth (home made or store bought)
  • 2 Cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/3 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Aioli Mustard
  • 2-3 Tbsp Reserved veggie broth liquid
  • pinch of salt and pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp basil  (optional)
  • 1 tsp oregano (optional)

Directions:

  1. To prepare the artichoke: rinse them, cut the stem off, trim the top of the leaves (because they can be a little prickly.) Cut each artichoke in half and remove the bitter, flower-y part in the middle, between the leafs, and the “choke.” (This also helps get flavor throughout and cook faster.)
  2. Store Bought is Fine

    Store bought is fine

    Place the artichoke, cut side down in a pot. Add two cloves of garlic, two lemon slices and two bay leafs and cover with veggie broth. You can easily make your own, which will be coming in a future post. However, in the words of my favorite celebrity chef, Ina Garten, store bought is fine.

  3. Cover and simmer until artichokes are tender. Then remove and serve along side of sauce (but don’t toss the veggie broth just yet! You’ll need that for the sauce)
  4. To make the dipping sauce: combine mayonnaise, mustard, and then a few tablespoons of the veggie broth mixture you just boiled the artichokes in. I think I also added a couple other spices, but I really can’t remember. Maybe some dried basil and oregano? Salt and pepper? I don’t know, but it was delicious. I am sure whatever spice you put in there would be delicious.

Perfectly-Perfect-Artichoke from The Fearless Flying Kitchen

Grilled Polenta with Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade

This is REALLY easy to make and will seem very gourmet. I have done this with home made polenta as well as store bought polenta as well as different varieties of olive tapenade. They are all delicious, and it really just depends on how much time you want to invest into this.

Ingredients:

  • Home-made polenta (like this Rosemary Polenta recipe) or the store bought Organic Polenta
  • Approx 1 Tbsp Olive oil or Butter
  • 3-4 Tomatoes (“on the vine” or Beefsteak varieties are best)
  • 1 container of Olive Tapenade
  • 1 container of creme fresh or sour cream
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat griddle over medium high heat and spray with some cooking spray, butter or a little olive oil. Slice polenta into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces and place on grill. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, not very long because it is already cooked. Just until heated through and has some delicious looking grill marks. Remove form heat and arrange on dish.
  2. Slice tomatoes into thick slices and grill like you did with the polenta.  Once it gets beautiful grill marks, place on top of each polenta slice. Top with a half Tbsp of Olive Tapenade of your choice (I have used three different Olive Tapenades from Trader Joes, and all are excellent, probably leaning more towards the one found in the refrigeratedsection), a dollop of Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream (or, on that note, Greek Yogurt if you are really trying to make this healthy) and then a sprinkling of fresh basil.

Grilled Polenta and Olive Tapenade from The Fearless Flying Kitchen

Bell Pepper and Steak Stir-Fry

 BELL-PEPPER-AND-STEAK

As much as I love to cook, some nights, I just want to pop something in the microwave or order take out. Call it laziness if you want. I call it just, being human. But, what I consider the ultimate, is when I can cook dinner from scratch that involves minimal effort on my part. My biggest TJ’s  “splurge” is usually on pre-cut meats and vegetables. I call it a splurge because it usually costs a few bucks more to get a food item processed. But those few minutes I am spared are well worth it! I mean, come on, the thought of making soup from scratch was a little daunting before I the wonderful Mirepoix Mix, am I right?? Another pre-sliced and diced item I regularly purchase is the Beef Steak Tips, which I decided to bust out for dinner tonight. You can, of course, always use regular tenderloin or sirloin, and just slice into chunks or strips.

When I think of “easy dinner,” my mind jumps right to clean up, which means my easy dinner usually involves no more than 1 pot or utensil. I have seen a bunch of one pot pasta dishes on Pinterest, and I’ll admit, I am a little nervous to try them. I just can’t wrap my head around how it would taste good to throw raw onions and uncooked pasta and tomatoes in a pot with water and have it com out tasting delicious. I hope to prove myself wrong in the future, but, For now, I’ll just stick to crock pots and woks.

Some of my favorite veggies to cook with beef  are bell peppers and onions. I often pair my carne asada with fajita style peppers and  onions. Same with sausages. I wonder why I even thought I would choose a different veggie for my easy mid-week stir fry? I am sure there are great combinations out there. What do you put in your stir-fry? Leave me a comment!

 

Bell Pepper and Steak Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive or peanut oil, divided
  • 1 lb package of beef tips
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut into chunks
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bag of microwave brown rice

Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar

Directions:

  • Put 1 Tbsp of oil in wok or large pan, and heat on hight. Once oil is hot, add onion and bell peppers and cook until they just start to get soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan.
  • Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for sauce in a separate bowl.
  • Add other tbsp to pan, and add beef tips (salt and pepper to taste prior to cooking). Cook until no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add cooked bell peppers and onions, diced tomatoes and sauce mixture cook for another 5 min. Sauce will thicken a little bit. Remove from heat and serve with your favorite whole grain rice. I prefer the frozen brown rice that can be microwaved for 3 minutes and serves two.


Estimated Nutrition Information Per Serving (does not include rice):
Calories: 316   Carbs: 18g   Fat: 17g   Protein: 24g   Sodium: 720 mg   Sugar: 7g