February 13, 2010

Blackened Salmon Salad, Two Ways

It's be a rough few weeks here in More Cheese More Chocolate land. Matt and I suffered a huge loss a little over a week ago, and cooking, let alone blogging, haven't been much of a priority. (Thanks to my big brother for filling in a little while I've been gone!) We spent many, many days surrounded by family and friends and ungodly amounts of comfort food, with nary a vegetable in sight. While the outpouring of support in the form of home-cooked meals was completely overwhelming, there comes a time when you're ready to stop eating platefuls of meat and bread and you no longer want to be surrounded by a dozen varieties of cookies, brownies, and cakes.

When I returned to Minneapolis a few days ago I was excited to get back into the kitchen, and a big salad was at the top of my list of things to make. I had originally planned on making a niçoise salad, but when I realized that my co-op didn't have tuna steaks my plans changed a bit. My focus shifted from my list of ingredients for niçoise salad to random things that sounded good and seemed to fit together. The next thing I knew I was making blackened salmon, crumbling blue cheese, and slicing new potatoes. This salad base would work well with steak or chicken in place of the salmon, and the vinaigrette could easily be swapped out for blue cheese dressing.

The base of this salad consisted of green leaf lettuce, spinach, boiled new potatoes, roasted red peppers, cucumber, green pepper, and blue cheese. For a dressing I drizzled it with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a little lemon juice.

Blackened Salmon
Adapted from Real Simple

Preheat the oven to 400.

For the salmon spices I combined 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a shallow bowl. The cayenne came flying out of the bottle when I was measuring it, so I probably had a little more than 2 teaspoons and it was very hot. If you're not that into spicy foods you can reduce the cayenne by half or more. This spice mixture will coat 3-4 servings of salmon.

Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan, remove it from the heat, and stir in the juice of 1/2 to 1 whole lemon. Transfer the mixture to a shallow bowl.

When the oven is nearing 400, heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Dip the salmon in the lemon butter and then in the spice mixture to coat. Cook the salmon on the stove for about 2 minutes per side, and then transfer the skillet to the oven for about 8 minutes to finish the cooking. Place the salmon atop the salad and eat, eat, eat.

The second salad had more of a Mediterranean twist with green leaf lettuce, tomato, cucumber, olives, sliced pepperoncini, and a lot of crumbled feta. The dressing was a vinaigrette made up of one part dijon mustard, one part red wine vinegar, and three parts olive oil.

Leftover salmon topped off the salad, and it was delicious.

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