Salmon, Arugula and Friends
Everyone talks about what to do when your pantry is bare. There are hundreds of sites dedicated to showing you super easy meals that you can make in 10 minutes with things you have on hand. That’s great the for the average american running around super busy, not caring about food. But what if you have just gone shopping and have a fridge full of fresh food? If you ask me, that’s almost harder. You have to be smart and use the freshest things with the shortest shelf life or else you’ll be tossing half of your groceries in the compost pile by the end of the week. One such ingredient that Erin and I (especially Erin) love is fresh Arugula.
So arugula was the center of the meal we wanted to build on. We needed some other fresh ingredients that have a short window too. We happened to have Avocado at the PERFECT ripeness, and if you know how amazing a perfect avocado is, you would understand the need to put that into our meal. We also got this amazing looking blue cheese from Wegmans so naturally wanted to include that too. Some fresh beets were a part of the bounty so good to get those in too. And finally we had a salmon to fillet to cook up too. Those are some darn good ingredients to work with and just had to figure out how to put them all together.
Since Arugula/Beet salad is one of our favorites, it was the first thing that came to mind. Erin had a great idea of serving the salad deconstructed style on the plate with the salmon pan cooked. That way you can cruise around the plate making every bite an adventure. I’m a huge fan of making a salad this way, and if you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out. We got right to work…. right after making sure we had a glass of red wine to assist us in the cooking. (very important step, do not skip!)
After we were properly armed with our cooking beverages, we had to figure out the timing of everything. We were pretty hungry and didn’t have 2 years to wait for the beets to cook in the oven, so peeled them, sliced then, and started them in the cast iron with some olive oil. That is probably the longest prep of the entire meal! Once the beets were going, Erin washed the arugula and got to work on the simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing.
I, on the other side of the kitchen, was working with the salmon. After years of cooking salmon, I have always found the best way to prep it is to wash it off in cold water, get it as dry as possible, and then season with kosher salt and pepper. That’s it! A dry piece of quality fish with salt and pepper is the basis of the perfect fillet. Start getting the pan hot with some oil in it. (in our case, we had some leftover bacon grease from earlier so used that). Our salmon still had the skin on one side, and personally love it. Not only does it keep tons of flavor in, but you don’t have to really worry as much about overcooking that side.
Once the pan is hot, lay down the salmon, skin side down and let it be for a few minutes. Most of the time you can even look at the thick cut side and see about how far up its cooked. Once you think its about half way, flip it (carefully) onto the meat side and do not move it. By letting it sit there in one place, you ensure that it will develop a nice “crust” and color. After a couple minutes, flip it back to the skin side until its done to your liking.
After the salmon is done, you can start plating! We laid out the sliced Avocado, then the beets, salmon, a generous chunk of blue cheese, the dressed arugula, and added a bit of prosciutto for good measure. Now just take your plates and glasses of wine to your table/couch/floor etc, and enjoy!