A few years back, I purchased a copy of The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook and have had great success with many of the recipes. One of my absolute favorites and go-to meals for midweek is the Seared Salmon with Cilantro-Cucumber Salsa. The addition of red pepper flakes and a hint of sweetener to the bright and crunchy vegetable salsa gives this dish a sultry heat that marries well with the rich, velvety salmon. As we all know, salmon is full of those fabulous omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are so important in helping to reduce inflammation throughout the body and lowering our risk for heart disease. So eat up!
While this recipe is perfection in its unaltered form, my husband and I recently embarked on a new way of eating, which incorporates leans meats, lots of veggies and other foods and ingredients that have a low glycemic index. In order to adapt this recipe to our new diet, I replaced the honey with raw agave syrup (easily found at Trader Joe’s), used red bell peppers instead of tomatoes, as tomatoes are technically a fruit, which we limit our intake of, and increased the proportion of “salsa” as it counts as our veggies.
For more information on our diet, please visit Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution and also my girlfriend’s excellent blog with loads of information and recipe ideas. And, no, this doesn’t mean I’m never making or eating cupcakes and treats again….just not as frequently!
Ingredients (original recipe found here):
- 1/2 english cucumber, quartered lengthwise, then cut into a small dice
- 1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into a small dice
- 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into a small dice
- 2 Tablespoons chopped shallot or red onion
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro,plus sprigs for garnish
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- 1-1/2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1 teaspoon agave syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 salmon fillets
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Lime wedges for garnish
- In a bowl, combine the cucumber, bell peppers, shallot, and chopped cilantro. Toss gently to mix.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, 1 teaspoon of the canola oil, the agave syrup, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Pour the lime mixture over the cucumber mixture and toss gently to mix and coat evenly. Set aside.
- Sprinkle the salmon fillets on both sides with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the black pepper. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the remaining ½ teaspoon canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the fish to the pan and cook, turning once, until opaque throughout when tested with the tip of a knife, 4-5 minutes on each side.
- Transfer the salmon fillets to individual plates and top each with the salsa. Garnish the plates with the cilantro sprigs and lime wedges. Serve immediately with another veggie, like sauteed green beans.
Cost & Time-Saving tip: My husband and I do bulk protein runs at Costco, then cut everything up into portions and freeze them for later use.
I craft and eat thriftily so I can afford to shop at places like Williams-Sonoma for my cooking vessels. During one of their holiday sales, I picked up an authentic Spanish paella pan for $29.95 and have been pining to use it.
The other night, my husband and I threw on some Spainsh guitar acoustics, sipped on a Spanish Verdejo and whipped up some tasty paella from a Food & Wine recipe. This recipe has a very light flavor with the lemon, wine and parsley and is perfect for a warm evening.
Ingredients (seves 6)
- 4 ounces fresh chorizo, casings removed
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes
- 1 cup arborio rice
- Pinch of saffron threads dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 1/2 pound cockles, scrubbed and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken (8 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 350°. In a 10-inch paella pan or ovenproof skillet, cook the chorizo over moderate heat, breaking it up with a spoon, until some of the fat is rendered and the chorizo is browned, 4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook over low heat, stirring, until softened and just beginning to brown, 8 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, rice, saffron with its liquid and the 1 1/2 cups of water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, without stirring, until the rice is al dente and the liquid is absorbed, 15 minutes.
- In a large skillet, heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil until shimmering. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, add them to the skillet and cook over high heat, turning once, until pink and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to the rice. Discard the oil.
- Wipe out the skillet. Pour in the wine and lemon juice. Add the mussels and cockles, cover and cook, shaking the skillet, until the mussels open, about 3 minutes. Pour the mussels and cockles and their cooking liquid over the rice.
- Stir the cooked chicken into the rice. Cover and cook in the oven for about 5 minutes, until the paella is just heated through. Garnish with the parsley and scallion, drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and serve.
Cooking Tips: We omitted the cockles and mussels (for shame!) due to the fact that neither of us like them as much as other seafood AND they weren’t on sale. We ended up putting the white wine and lemon juice in with the shrimp instead. The taste was great, but we like to cook our shrimp in their shells for appearance and the casings weren’t as crisp as we like them. Next time, I think we’ll add the wine and lemon juice at the same time as the rice mixture.
We also left the casings on the chorizo, only because they weren’t coming off very easily, and just sliced them into coins.
Shopping Tips: Again, buy your proteins when on sale! The shrimp and chorizo were on sale and the chicken was purchased previously for $1.99/lb. Buy your spices (like saffron) at stores like Trader Joe’s, Cost Plus or local ethnic food stores for the best prices.