May – Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

May – Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

I must admit that I have been reluctant to try all the various forms and recipes for pesto out there that aren’t ‘traditional’. I have a great love for pesto made with fresh from the garden basil. But, on the www you can find pesto made from almost anything. The greens include basil, mint, spinach, cilantro, seaweed, arugula, chard, kale and Italian parsley. The nuts can include pine nuts, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and almonds. Whew! The term pesto has stretched to include almost any green and nut whirled to a chunky paste with olive oil (although even that is not used exclusively).

But now is a different time, we are all pushed to use ingredients and our pantry in ways that would have been unimaginable a few months ago. During the past few months I have seen many creative and interesting recipes out there. Waste is not an option when you are trying to make your grocery shopping trip last as long as possible. A forgotten head of broccoli was looking a little sad in the back of the produce drawer. A few months ago I might have thrown it into the worm bin. Not now. The salmon from the back of the freezer also needed cooking. Combining the two together was a delicious surprise. This version of charred broccoli pesto doesn’t contain any nuts or basil. But it tastes delicious and you won’t miss them. The charring adds a lot of umami flavor and makes up for any lack of nuts or basil. There are only 4 ingredients; roast charred broccoli florets, garlic, parmesan and olive oil (plus salt). Whiz them all in your food processor for a few seconds and voila! It certainly perked up the salmon.

Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

Charred Broccoli Pesto

Charred Broccoli Pesto

Charred Broccoli Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 1 large head of broccoli, florets broken into smaller pieces (save the bigger stems for another dish)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of parmesan cheese, either grated or broken into chunks
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt to taste

Put any unused pesto into a small jar and top with olive oil. It will keep for at least a week.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Cut and wash the broccoli into small florets, place them on the baking sheet and coat with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Reserve the stems, they are delicious when peeled tough skin and stir fried.
  4. Roast until the edges of the florets begin to crisp and brown, and the broccoli is tender. This will take about 30 minutes.
  5. In a food processor pulse the broccoli, parmesan, and garlic cloves. In a slow stream add the additional 1/4 cup of olive oil.
  6. Taste and add salt if necessary.
Charred Broccoli Pesto

Charred Broccoli Pesto

The miracle idea of slow roasting is that it is difficult to overcook the fish. The end result is velvety soft, moist and cooked all the way through. This method has become my preferred way of cooking salmon. Although the salmon had been in my freezer for a few months, you would have thought it was caught that morning.

This was a smaller piece of salmon, just right for 3. If you have a larger piece you will need to either increase the cooking time, or cut it into individual portions before cooking.

The slow cooked salmon was one of the methods reviewed in an exhaustive testing by Food 52 where they did a comparison of salmon cooked 12 ways.

It was one of their favorites.

Slow Roasted Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb salmon filet
  • 1/2 cup of charred broccoli pesto

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil
  3. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the baking sheet and coat with the pesto
  4. Bake for 30 minutes.
Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

 

The inspiration for the charred broccoli pesto came from the blog The Modern Proper. They added basil but alas it was not to be had by me. I didn’t miss it and don’t think it is necessary.

 

Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

Served with a stir fry of red Chinese cabbage, onion, and broccoli stems.

I am taking this dish to share with the folks at Fiesta Friday, this week it’s #329. I am a cohost along with Diann @ Of Goats and Greens

Make your way over to Angie’s, the host of Fiesta Friday, to read all the amazing posts about food and crafts. It’s a amazing variety of bloggers. And, thank you for visiting me. I would love to hear from you.

May – Mustardy Chicken Thighs

May – Mustardy Chicken Thighs

For me?

This couldn’t be easier, faster or more delicious. Juicy mustardy flavored dark meat chicken with a crisp skin. Of course you could also do this with breasts as well if that is what you have. The secret is a simple paste you put both under the skin and over it. You can either cook this in the oven or on the BBQ.

Mustardy Chicken

Mustardy Chicken

In a small bowl combine:

  • 6 green onions – finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large clove garlic – pressed
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 6 large chicken thighs – bone in/skin on and trimmed of excess fat
  • olive oil for oiling the BBQ grate if cooking that way

Method: 

  1. Whisk onion, mustard, lemon juice and garlic together in a medium bowl. Using hands, loosen chicken skin on each thigh, making sure to leave 1 side attached. Spoon about a teaspoon of the mustard mixture under the skin of each thigh covering the meat evenly as possible and dividing equally among thighs (use about half the mustard mixture). Fold skin flap over to enclose mixture.
  2. Sprinkle thighs with salt and pepper on both sides of the thighs. Spread remaining mixture atop the thighs, spreading evenly. (Chicken can also be prepared up to 6 hours in advance, and stored covered in the fridge.)
  3. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat)  Brush grill rack generously with olive oil. Grill chicken until golden brown and cooked through, turning chicken occasionally and moving to cooler spot on grill if browning too quickly – about 40 minutes.
  4. Or, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until firm to the touch and the skin is browned.
  5. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Mustardy Chicken

Mustardy Chicken Thighs

I served these with spicy toasted potatoes and a green salad. The potatoes and chicken both cook at 450 degrees F so it was very convenient.

I am going to take a bunch of these over to Angie’s place to celebrate Fiesta Friday #327. Check out the posts from bloggers around the globe. You will find great recipes, craft ideas, and other tips. Please vote for your favorite 5.
April – Blistered Broccoli with Fusilli, Sicilian Style

April – Blistered Broccoli with Fusilli, Sicilian Style

This combination of anchovies with golden raisins achieves a rich, complex, and delicious result without a heavy tomato sauce. The flavors are typically Sicilian and pairs beautifully with fusilli. Add in broccoli, blistered to charred perfection in a hot pan, and you have a complete meal.

Fusilli with Broccoli, Sicilian Style

Fusilli with Broccoli, Sicilian Style

If you are a vegetarian or don’t eat anchovies (or simply just don’t like them), you can replace them with a tablespoon of soy sauce or miso or a 1/4 cup of chopped black olives. All those will give you a similar salty, briny, umami filled jolt. I used a gluten free fusilli but use whatever pasta shape you have in your pantry, fresh or dried.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch of broccoli (or cauliflower), florets roughly chopped and stalks peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 leeks or 1 onion or 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of anchovy paste or equivalent of finely chopped whole anchovies
  • Pinch of saffron threads (leave out if not available)
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes, preferably oil packed, drained and minced
  • 1/2 cup of golden raisins, or regular
  • 1/3 cup of pine nuts, toasted in a small dry skillet until golden brown
  • Pasta of choice (I used a gluten free fusilli)
  • Grated parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese for serving OR soft goat cheese (my choice)

Method:

  1. Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heart.
  2. Add the leeks or onion or shallots and saute until soft and slightly browned on the edges.
  3. Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute. Stir in the anchovy, saffron, sun-dried tomatoes, raisins, and pine nuts.
  4. Continue to cook over low heat until the flavors blend, about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the mix to a small bowl using a slotted spoon. Reserve the skillet for the broccoli.
  6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for your pasta. Cook according to the directions until just al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  7. While the pasta is cooking, start the broccoli
  8. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil in the skillet. Add the broccoli and toss to combine with the oil. Shake the skillet so the broccoli settles in an even layer. Cook, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes. Toss to rearrange and cook again, undisturbed, for another 2 to 3 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
  9. Add the drained pasta to the skillet along with the reserved Sicilian sauce. Toss to combine, adding some of the pasta cooking water if it seems dry.
  10. Taste for salt (anchovies are salty).
  11. Serve with grated cheese or crumbled goat cheese.
Fusilli with Broccoli, Sicilian Style

Fusilli with Broccoli, Sicilian Style

Fusilli with Broccoli, Sicilian Style

Fusilli with Broccoli, Sicilian Style

We have been trying to skip the meat a few times a week and this was an extremely successful dish. The combination of flavors and textures…a little sweet, salty, briny, rich, crunchy and smooth…were winners.

Inspiration came from a recent recipe in the NY Times and Cold Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase (co-author of the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook).

I am taking this dish to Fiesta Friday #324 hosted by Angie. This week’s cohosts are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and myself.

Come join the party or check out the wonderful blog posts of attendees. You will see everything from wedding suggestions, home improvement, crafts, and recipes. If you are a blogger, you can add your own link. 

Before joining, if you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please read the guidelines.

We want to be able to feature you next Friday.

April – Smashed Potatoes

April – Smashed Potatoes

What do you do when you are completely out of Tater Tots? I call it a disaster! Some of you may be in the same predicament. Tater Tots are a private (not so secret now) indulgence in our household. I buy the HUGE packages, but we were out…not a tot to be found even at the very the bottom of the freezer.

I did find one lone bag of baby yellow Finns in the pantry, the only potatoes to be found in the house. The result is these smashed potatoes.

Both the NY Times and another blog I follow (Pinch of Yum) had highlighted this method of cooking potatoes in the past week. Very timely. Could they be a stand in for those missing Tater Tots?

Smashed Potatoes

Smashed Potatoes

They were delicious, not quite the same as a tot, but still very good. The consensus was that a repeat performance would be welcome.

These potatoes are creamy on the inside and crisp on the outside, delicious and a complete success. Same as with tots, it’s impossible to only eat one. They would be wonderful as is, without any adornment except some ketchup. But I live in a crazy household of anchovy lovers. In the NY Times article the smashed potatoes (they called them roasted) had a sauce of butter, anchovies, garlic and capers. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. And again, the potatoes are fantastic as is. But, family members have been known to steal anchovies plain out of the fridge as a snack. I had to make the sauce.

One commenter suggested some crisp bacon and sour cream would be good as a topping as well. I can definitely get behind that.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of baby or fingerling potatoes (or whatever you have on hand)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Olive oil for roasting

I am going to put the sauce below

Method:

  1. Scrub the potatoes and place them in a pot, cover with at least an inch of water and heavily salt it.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, turn down the heat, and cook until the potatoes are very soft, 25-30 minutes. You want to over-cook them a little so the insides stay creamy.
  3. Drain the potatoes, and let them cool until you can handle them.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  6. Use your hands to smash the potatoes to about 3/4 inch thick.
  7. Transfer them to the baking sheet, toss with a generous amount of oil and a little salt (don’t salt if you are using the anchovy sauce). Arrange the potatoes in a single layer.
  8. Roast until dark golden brown and crisp, 40-50 minutes, flipping them once half way through.
Smashed Potatoes

Smashed Potatoes

If there are any more anchovy lovers out there, here goes:

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 10-12 anchovies, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
  • 1 cup of chopped herbs for garnish – parsley or celery leaves

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in a small skillet
  2. Add the anchovies and capers. Cook until the butter is browned and anchovies melted into the sauce.
  3. Add the garlic and remove from the heat.
  4. Pour over the cooked potatoes.
  5. Garnish with herbs.

This sauce would also be good on steak, roast chicken or fish.

Smashed Potatoes with Anchovy Sauce

Smashed Potatoes with Anchovy Sauce

Maybe some of the folks at Fiesta Friday are also running out of tots. I’m going to take them over to Fiesta Friday #323 hosted by Angie. This weeks cohosts are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Laurena @ Life Diet Health

If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please read the guidelines.

January – Greek Chicken

January – Greek Chicken

Greek chicken ready to bake

Greek chicken ready to bake

This low calorie, vegetable heavy, colorful casserole is just what is needed during the grey days of winter. It’s a riot of colors and flavors, quick and simple to make and perfect for company. All you need is some crusty bread and a green salad, your dinner is complete. You can even assemble the dish ahead of time and bake it in the oven at the last minute.

Customize it to your tastes. The first time I made it I left out the onions and black olives, it was delicious. If you want dairy free, don’t add the crumbled feta at the end. It’s still absolutely delicious and even better for lunch the next day.

Greek chicken - this time without the artichokes. onion or olives

Greek chicken – this time without the artichokes. onion or olives

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 each red, orange and yellow peppers cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 pint of multicolored cherry tomatoes, leave whole
  • 3-4 small zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 red onion, cut into 8 sections
  • zest of 1 large or 2 small lemons, save juice for the end
  • 1 large sprig of fresh oregano (leaves chopped) or 1 – 2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary (leaves chopped) or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • About 1 teaspoon of salt (salts have a differing amount of ‘saltiness’)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small package of frozen artichoke hearts or canned artichoke hearts, defrosted if necessary (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of pitted kalamata olives (optional)
  • Juice of 1 large lemon or 2 small – split in half
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta (optional)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Combine all the ingredients (except the feta and half the lemon juice) above in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour into a large casserole dish and bake (uncovered) for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is done. Breasts might be done in 30 minutes.
  4. Crumble the feta on top and give the dish a good squeeze of the lemon

 

You can assemble this a few hours ahead, cover and store in the fridge.

Greek Chicken

Greek Chicken

Greek Chicken

Greek Chicken

Greek Chicken

Greek Chicken

I have also made this with bone in chicken thighs (skin on or off). Ingredients are the same. Put the chicken thighs, skin side up, in a large shallow casserole. Sprinkle them with salt. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, mix them with the herbs and lemon zest, pour around the thighs. Bake for about 40 minutes.

Greek Chicken with Whole Thighs

Greek Chicken with Whole Thighs

I think the folks at Fiesta Friday #313 will enjoy this. Fiesta Friday is hosted by Angie, it’s a virtual collection of blog posts about cooking, gardening, and crafts. Click on the link to read all the amazing things that are going on in the world of blogging.