Herb-Crusted Wild Salmon over Quinoa, Peas, Cucumbers, Grape Tomatoes & Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette
Yes! I can finally share some new recipes! (Until all the cookbooks were shipped out I wasn’t allowed to share new ones!) This one is NOT in Chrissy’s Clean Cookbook... I’ve got it slated for the next one. But this one was my favorite plating & flavor profile from last week’s #cleanmealprep menu. (This one may look long but I can promise you it was easy & fun to make!)
As a chef during the Quarantine 2020, I’m learning, along with all of my colleagues, how to create dishes that hold up well to the challenges of “to-go” or “take-out”. Often, take-out meals don’t fare well in boxes where food continues to cook (because you have to close them up while they’re hot), or, if something is sauced or has a dressing, you wind up with a mushy mess by the time you get the food! (By the way it’s also hard to make food look pretty in a box...that just takes a little practice…)
For me, salmon and cucumbers are a great flavor combination and I wanted to use some of the scarce fresh produce that I could get my hands on: sweet spring peas, rainbow grape tomatoes and English cucumbers. I knew any of the usual salad greens would wilt in a box under hot salmon (even undressed) so I decided to mix the veggies and dressing with quinoa, which happens to hold up particularly well to what is technically a salad dressing. I am so proud of how this dish turned out: it was easy to make, flavorful and the herb crusting on the salmon married beautifully with the lemon-shallot vinaigrette.
1. If you’re planning to re-heat this, then definitely cook it for less time. I prefer mine rare and 8 minutes was perfect.
2. Also, the vinaigrette is an easy and delicious dressing to make ahead and keep in your fridge. It will last for about a week. This vinaigrette can be used as a base to build other salad dressings. To vary the flavor of the dressing, you could add some fresh herbs, or swap the lemon juice for lime juice, or try different flavored vinegars, or even try maple syrup or pomegranate molasses instead of honey.
3. Lastly, for time management, cook the quinoa, make the vinaigrette, and chop the veggies before you start cooking the salmon.
For the Salmon-
• 4 wild salmon fillets (approx 6 ounces each)
• 1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
• 1 tbsp dried or ground dill
• 1 tbsp dried parsley
• 3 tsps dried tarragon
• 3 tsps ground coriander
• 1 tsp each sea salt and ground black pepper, plus an extra pinch of each
• 3-4 tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. In a large frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of the oil until it shimmers.
3. Add the bread crumbs and the herbs, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper to the pan. Over medium heat, lightly toast the herbs and breadcrumbs in the pan, constantly stirring the mixture as it toasts. Use the extra tablespoon of oil if needed until the mixture has the consistency of wet sand. (Don’t let this burn! You just want to incorporate everything and get it to a nice golden color.)
4. Remove the pan from the heat once the herbs and bread crumbs are toasted and set aside.
5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Spray the foil with a clean baking spray.
6. Pat the salmon dry and season on all sides with the extra few pinches of salt and pepper, to taste.
Place the salmon, skin-side down, onto the baking sheet. Top each fillet with the herb/bread crumb mixture.
7. Put the pan in the oven and bake for approximately 8-12 minutes, depending upon the temperature you prefer for your salmon. (While the salmon cooks, make sure you’re ready to go with the quinoa and the vinaigrette.)
8. OPTIONAL STEP: To get a little extra golden color onto the breadcrumbs after the salmon is baked, place the baking sheet of salmon in the broiler for 2-3 minutes. (If you choose to do this then take a minute or two off the baking time).
For the Quinoa Salad-
• 1 cup cooked quinoa
• ½ cup sweet spring peas, steamed
• ½ cup rainbow grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
• 1 large cucumber, cut into bite-size pieces
1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions and let it cool while the salmon is baking. The fastest technique to cool it down is to spread it out onto a cookie sheet after it’s done cooking and leave it out at room temperature. (I also use that time to make the vinaigrette).
2. As for the veggies, I steamed my fresh sweet peas and I cut the cucumber into salad-size bites. If you can’t find rainbow grape tomatoes, just use what’s out there now! Also if you can’t find English cucumbers, just cut the seed strip out of a regular cucumber before you chop it. Finally feel free to add more or less of any of these veggies or even add others.
3. Keep these items set aside until you’re ready to toss them with the quinoa and the vinaigrette.
For the Vinaigrette-
• 3 tbsp shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
• 1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
• 2 tbsp champagne vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar)
• 1 tbsp dijon mustard
• ½ tsp each sea salt and ground black pepper
• ¼ cup lemon juice
• ¼ cup raw honey
• ¼ cup clean oil (avocado or olive oil)
1. In a blender, add the shallots, garlic, honey, dijon mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper and pulse until well-combined and mostly smooth.
2. While on low, add the oil slowly until the dressing is smooth and emulsified (when the oil has become completely incorporated with the other ingredients and won’t seperate or “break”). Then season to taste, checking for seasoning, sweetness and acidity. Adjust as necessary.
3. Lastly, in a medium or large bowl, toss the still-warm quinoa with the tomatoes, cucumbers, peas and the dressing (as much or as little as you prefer!)
4. Plate the salmon on top of the warm quinoa salad. Garnish with a few extra slices of grape tomatoes and enjoy!