Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Salmon with Pesto Sauce

Salmon is one of my favorite types of fish, but lately I've been having less than the best luck with it.  Maybe it's partly because I live in the desert so fresh fish is hard to come by, but frozen is usually a satisfying substitute.  Maybe it's that I need lessons in thawing fish, so that's why I opened my much loved Better Homes and Garden Cookbook.  This cookbook is so informative and has so many classic (they call them "favorite') American recipes.  I think it's a great resource for ideas and I feel like armed with it and the Joy of Cooking I can come back from the store with whatever cut of meat was reduced and find a deliciously simple way to prepare it.  And this recipe is that.  There's three ingredients.  Three.  Four if you want to be decadent and add Parmesan.  I'll assume if you're going for the prep with mayo then you'll probably want to just go ahead and go all out and add that Parmesan as well.  I'm going to include variations in the ingredients that I have tired and tested so you'll have a few options, but I think this is a dish that fares well with some playfulness, just don't overcook that salmon.  That's the worst.

Serves 4

4 5-6oz fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillets (I used fillets with one side of skin and had a hard time figuring out the cooking time, so watch out for that)
1/4 cup mayo, or sour cream, or yogurt*
3 tablespoons basil pesto (Trader Joe's pesto works great)
shaved parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse and pat dry.

2. Place fillets on greased broiler pan, tucking under thin edges.  Broil 4 inches from the heat for 4-6 minutes per 1/2 in thickness or until fish flakes when tested with fork.  If fillets are 1 in or more, turn halfway through broiling.

2b.  I have also had this with the topping broiled the whole time with the fish and I'm not sure what the purpose for separating them is, unless you're going to need to flip them.  It's your call.

3. Meanwhile, combine mayo and pesto.  Spoon over fillets and broil about 1 min or until topping is bubbly. Garnish with Parmesan if you like.

So easy and so good.

*My sister has a variation of this recipe that calls for creme fraiche, though I have never tried it because sour cream is an easy substitute.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Sausage and Pepper Rigatoni

*This recipe is from Jenny M--many thanks!

I have to admit, this was a little scary at first.  My husband saw it in passing on the local tv show called the 'Valley Dish'.  He said "MMMM, I wish we were having that for supper!"  So I decided to be adventurous and look up the recipe a few days later.  To my ultimate delight, he loved it and it wasn't that hard!  A few side notes:  I didn't know what fennel was, looked for it at Fry's and couldn't find it, so I never used it.  We didn't know the difference :).  Second, I used all dried herbs (cut amounts in half).  I just didn't have the fresh ones on hand and it was still delicious!
12 oz ground Italian sausage (not spicy)
1 red bell pepper
1 small onion
3rd of a bulb of fennel
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup olive oil
6 cloves fresh garlic
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup your favorite tomato sauce
1 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley
1 Tbsp fresh basil
1/2 grated Romano cheese
21 oz cooked rigatoni pasta
1.  Slice onions, fennel, and peppers.  Mince the garlic and chop all the herbs.
2.  In a large saute pan, heat the oil until it's at the smoking point (between 365-400 degrees Fahrenheit), add sausage meat.  Make sure it's spread out so meat covers the full surface of the pan.
3.  Add oregano, thyme, garlic, and vegetables.  Brown all slightly.  Add wine and chicken stock and reduce by half.
4.  Add tomato sauce and bring to a quick boil.
5.  Heat pasta and toss with the sauce mix.  Then mix in basil, parsley and Romano cheese.