Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Salmon with Leeks and Asparagus

Yesterday was a cooking marathon!! Okay not really, but I did cook up a storm. It's crazy how long it can take to cook a big main dish and two side dishes when you have zero help in the kitchen.

My heart goes out to my mom on Thanksgiving, I don't know how you do it!! The husband has been working what seems like non-stop for a while now, and I made this meal back when we first got married and he loved it. I thought while he was at work last night I would take the opportunity to cook a big meal.

Salmon with Leeks and Asparagus
    side of rosemary potatoes and lemon butter cous cous with fresh scallions
  • 1 pound fresh caught wild salmon, about 2 small-medium fillets (1 pound is more than enough for two people, if it's just for one I suggest getting one of the smaller fillets they offer)
  • 1 large bunch of leeks, or a couple small bunches
  • fresh asparagus (I did 5 pieces on each plate)
  • Light Smart Balance (or butter, or another margarine)
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 2 shallots
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup prepared vegetable bouillon
  • saffron (I had the tiny bottle from TJ's, so I just used a pinch) optional
  • salt + pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add desired amount of asparagus to water and blanch until soft. Place on paper towels or cloth to drain (you don't want them overcooked).
Set aside. Chop leeks into small, bite size, pieces and soak in cold water to eliminate dirt. Drain well. Melt 2 tablespoons Smart Balance in skillet over medium heat, saute leeks until soft and slightly more transparent. Add 1/2 cup light cream, salt + pepper, and reduce heat to low until thickened. Set Aside.

Chop shallots and saute with about 1 teaspoon Smart Balance. De glaze with white wine *that means when your onions cook down and stick to the pan, adding the white wine will un-stick them and bring up all the good flavors from the skillet*, and reduce heat to dry. Add vegetable bouillon, saffron, and reduce by half. Incorporate a couple tablespoons of butter and whisk together until thick and creamy (I actually left it on the heat a little longer than I wanted, and added a splash of more wine. You want it to be liquid enough to pour over salmon and veggies when finished).Set aside.

Saute the salmon, skin side down, on medium heat. Once well cooked on the skin side, carefully flip over and cook the other side (while the other side is cooking, very carefully remove the skin. It's easy to get off once it's been sauteed, usually separates very easily). If your salmon has no skin, you will just need to saute both side until the middle of the fillet is almost cooked. Cut salmon fillet in half (if you're using one large one).

Plate your leeks in the center, lay the asparagus on top, and the salmon on top of that. Cook in 400 degree oven for just a few minutes. You should place the salmon facing toward you so you can see the middle, it will be obvious when it's fully cooked because the center will look like the sauteed outside. Remove plate from oven, pour shallot sauce on top of salmon, and around the vegetables.

Rosemary Potatoes

  • 1 can New Potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Light Smart Balance
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • salt + pepper
  • rosemary
Quarter your potatoes, lay them on baking sheet. Microwave you butter and garlic for about 20 seconds or so until melted, pour over potatoes to evenly coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and heavily season with rosemary. I always sprinkle rosemary in the palm of my hand, crush with my fingers, then sprinkle over potatoes (I don't want big sprigs of rosemary when I'm chewing).

Bake in 400 degree oven, while you're prepping and cooking the rest of the meal. You'll want to flip them over after about 15 minutes, and continue cooking the other side for another 10 minutes (or until golden brown, and crispy).

Lemon Butter Cous Cous

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cous cous
  • 2 tablespoons Light Smart Balance
  • handful freshly chopped scallions
Bring water to a boil, add the cous cous and Smart Balance. Remove from heat, cover. This will cook on it's own in just a few minutes. Just set it aside until you're ready to serve. Once ready to serve, stir in scallions and additionally Smart Balance (or butter) if it need extra moisture. You want it to be able to stick together on it's own, and not be too crumbly.

Okay, I know that all sounds like way too much work. It took me over 2 hours to prep, cook, and plate my meal. That's mainly because I didn't have any help, and I wasn't rushing it. If you're only doing the salmon, leeks, and asparagus it wont take nearly as long. Prepping the potatoes took some time, as well as waiting for enough space on the burners to cook the cous cous.

Some cooking tips: Preheat your oven first thing, you'll want to have enough time to fully cook the potatoes before you need to put the salmon in. Also, the potatoes will have a few minutes to cool before serving, so all your food will be at a great temperature to eat right away. Also, prep everything before you start cooking! Chop your potatoes, set aside, chop, rinse & drain your leeks, set them aside, cut the ugly ends off your asparagus, set aside, so on and so forth. This makes cooking so much easier, everything you need is on hand and ready to go. There's nothing worse than having everything ready, and realizing you never chopped the onions for your sauce and now everything has cooled too much and will have to be reheated. It's not a big deal, but it can add a bit of stress.

I started cooking my potatoes first thing, then while my water was boiling I was chopping my leeks. I added my asparagus into the boiling water, and sauteed my leeks at the same time in a skillet. After a few minutes the asparagus was ready to come out, and I was ready to add cream to the leeks. Once the leeks had reduced, I plated them, wiped the skillet clean, brought it back up to medium heat and sauteed the salmon fillet. This is when I took the pot the asparagus had cooked in, rinsed it out, added the 1/2 cup of water and brought to a boil. Cous cous is awesome because it cooks all on it's own. While the first side of the fillet was cooking, I turned over my potatoes and let the other side brown for a few more minutes.

Once both sides of the fillet were cooked, I removed my potatoes from the oven and set aside to cool. I plated the asparagus on top of the leeks, the salmon on top of that, and placed in the oven for a few minutes. While the salmon was cooking in the oven, I actually finished my sauce. I hadn't added the vegetable bouillon or butter right away like the recipe says. You can do this if you'd like, but I like the sauce hot when I pour it over the salmon because I serve it right away. So let the shallots reduce with the white wine, and set aside until the salmon is in the oven. Put the skillet back over the heat, add your bouillon and a little butter and let it simmer until hot. Then once everything else is finished, pour the sauce over.

There you have it! Took my sweet time, but it turned out fantastic. Hubby was thrilled, he was hungry when he got home from work and this meal was ready and waiting. Halfway through he said, "I need 4 more stomachs, so I can keep eating." It was definitely a ton of food, and our leftovers happily await our return in their Tupperware homes.