Kale and Artichoke Salmon Packets

I love cooking salmon in foil packets. Super easy, fairly fast (with almost no hands-on needed), absolutely delicious. If I make salmon 3-4 times a month, I cook it in a foil packet at least once. Sometimes twice.

It’s also one of the easiest clean-ups ever. Salmon goes in foil, foil is wrapped up, packet is placed on foil-lined pan in case of leaks, everything goes into the trash after dinner. It’s great.

Normally, for a salmon packet, I just top the salmon with butter and lemon slices and serve a vegetable side dish alongside it (broiled asparagus goes perfect, especially if you dare to have Hollandaise sauce!). Every so often, we like to change it up, and since kale was on sale, this seemed like a natural choice for this week. I still did the butter and the lemon slices and added shopped kale and halved artichoke hearts to the packet. Cooked in the oven at 425 degrees for 18 minutes, they came out a little more done than I like my salmon (I like it very pink) but still not too done.

Overall, we felt this has potential. The artichokes should definitely be chopped, not just halved. I wasn’t impressed with the kale; maybe less of it would have been better. I served the foil packet with roasted potatoes, which were tasty (and a sure win for Miss H) but not the best side dish for this meal. What would have been best would have been taking the salmon out of the foil, skinning it, and dumping everything over a heap of Israeli couscous or rice. That would have been great for catching all the lemony, buttery juice that just got lost in the foil packet.

I also wonder how it would be if I cooked it at a lower temperature for a longer time. Usually, I do my foil packets for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. In the higher temperature, the kale was beginning to brown and not in a good way. Higher temperatures make for faster cooking, but I think you also run the risk of overcooking everything. Something to think about for next time.

As for Miss H, she likes salmon, especially if we make a little sandwich of it for her. She also ate her fair share of potatoes, but she wasn’t interested in kale or artichokes, not that I blame her. After opening up the foil packets, I topped the salmon with a small spoonful of capers, which MIss H absolutely loves – probably the brininess that gets her. She’s got a super big sweet tooth, but she’s also a big fan of sour, vinegary things. A rather successful dinner from her point of view.

Rating: 3 out of 5. We liked the idea of this, but the details need a little tweaking. Chopped artichokes would be a good start, along with a better side dish. Since salmon foil packets are already in our regular rotation, it’s nice to do something a little more interesting than just lemon and butter. We’ll try it with the changes and see if it works any better.

Taken from “Real Simple: Dinner Made Simple


Shrimp Pizza

Shrimp is awesome on pizza. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. You might be surprised.

Pizza is a fun, easy weeknight meal, especially when you have pizza dough in the freezer. The pizza dough recipe I use (another favorite from Julia Child) makes 2-3 dough balls, depending on how I break them up. A small-ish pizza is usually all we need for the three of us.

Or, if you don’t have a dough ball in the freezer – like I didn’t this week – use naan. Or any other flatbread. Works just fine and adds a little variety to the world of pizza. We used naan this week, and we really liked it. But then, naan is a a nearly perfect food and is awesome all the time. Miss H could live off of it if we let her.

So, shrimp pizza. Is it really that weird? Maybe the years of living in Japan skewed my perception. Seafood pizza is not unheard of there.

For our pizza, I made marinara sauce, which is super simple. Throw a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes in a saucepan (or 2 cans, if you want to have lots of leftover sauce to use in more delicious ways). Add herbs to punch it up a bit. This time, I used garlic powder, oregano, and thyme. Basil and bay leaves are also good additions. Toss in a little black pepper if you like, and if you’re in the mood for some heat, a pinch of crushed red pepper. Simmer for an hour, stirring every ten minutes or so. Throw in some brown sugar, a tablespoon or two depending on your taste. Finish it off with a tablespoon of butter. Season as necessary. Boom, marinara sauce that is to die for and goes with just about anything.

Seriously, it does go with just about anything. I took some to a playdate once after I had mistaken it for a jar of raspberry jam. We all had a laugh, but the joke was on us because it was still tasty on my homemade bread. Marinara for the win.

Take your piece of naan and turn it upside down so you have a slightly flatter surface. Slather on some marinara. Top that with precooked shrimp (saute in butter for 2-3 minutes), sliced grape tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella slices. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Done. Pizza. Seafood pizza. Better than it sounds.

Miss H, however, would disagree. She has a shrimp aversion. Put fish in front of her, and she’ll dig right in. Shrimp? Nope. She also does not like mozzarella cheese for some weird toddler reason. Put any other cheese in front of her – including a nice, pungent blue or a tangy goat – and she’ll devour it. Mozzarella? Uh-uh. Granted, it’s the blandest of cheese, and she likes a strong cheese flavor, so maybe she’s got a good reason for it other than that she’s three and likes to be troublesome.

Also, more fresh mozzarella for the rest of us.

Rating: 4 out of 5. It’s not perfect, but it’s close. It’s super messy, because the naan soaks up the sauce and gets a bit soft and soggy if you let it sit too long. But it’s pretty super fresh out of the oven. Would definitely make again.

Inspired by this recipe from Babaganosh.

Salmon with Miso Glaze, Roasted Cauliflower, Forbidden Rice

I know what attracted your attention there. Forbidden rice. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

I am not a fan of plain white rice. Even after three years of Japan, I never got used to eating it. I like it but not all by its lonesome. White rice needs a friend, like a sauce or a raw egg or something. The more friends you add, the better it gets (mmm, stir-fry). But even then, white rice doesn’t bring much to the party. I like something a little more exciting.

Forbidden rice is exciting. It’s called forbidden rice because, supposedly, it was so out-of-this-world fabulous that it was reserved for the emperor. You could call it black rice, because that’s what it is, but that’s boring. Forbidden rice is a much more fitting name. While “beautiful, lovely, delicious black rice” fits, that doesn’t slip off the tongue as easily. Still, forbidden rice is all those thing. It has a slight nuttiness to its flavor, subtle but adding just a little more to the plate. Paired with roasted cauliflower and miso salmon? Oh, yeah, that’s the good stuff.

Let’s talk about the salmon. We eat salmon three times a month around here, because we all really enjoy it. Even Miss H, though she prefers her on a sandwich. I cook it a couple different ways, but I don’t often do it with a glaze. But this salmon with miso glaze recipe is one I’ve done a couple times, and it’s nice when we want a little variety with our salmon. It also helps to use up miso, which you buy in a one-pound container but you only use a tablespoon or two of it at a time. It lasts a while in the fridge, but not indefinitely, so you can get a lot of use out it. And it’s nice to have several different recipes to try out so you’re not eating the same thing over and over again. (I have plans for the rest of this container. Oh, yes, I do.)

There is no way to talk about miso that makes it sound appetizing to someone who has never tried it before. “Fermented soybean paste” isn’t going to turn anybody on. And once you have tried miso, it’s not that easy to describe it to somebody who has no idea what you’re talking about. Salty? Yeah, it’s salty, but that’s not all it is. There’s really nothing else like it, and it’s not a flavor that everybody enjoys. If you do try it, take it a little at a time. It’s a big flavor, you don’t need much.

Miso-glazed salmon and forbidden rice go really well together, it turns out. The roasted cauliflower really didn’t stand a chance against that combo. It’s a reliable standard in this house, and it’s used to playing back-up to bigger, bolder flavors.

Rating: 4 (will make again). This is already in my recipe book as something I’ve made more than once already. It’s not something we eat once a month, but when I have miso in the fridge, this recipe makes nice work of it.

Also, sorry no pictures, but none of them turned out. My dining area doesn’t have the best lighting for pictures, unfortunately. Eh, I’m a writer, not a photographer.