Monday, May 15, 2017

20 Minute Dinners are the Best

I am usually skeptical when a recipe says it takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and consist of more than bread, peanut butter, and jelly.  This recipe from Cooking Light promised to be a 20-minute dinner and I put it to the test. I did more than that though, I changed the recipe, made it better, and also made it in under 30 minutes, keep reading to find out how you too can recreate this meal on a weeknight.

Baked Salmon with Balsamic Blistered Tomatoes will make your taste buds dance with the marriage of fresh tomatoes and tangy balsamic vinegar that both mirror and amplify each other - both benefiting from the high heat of a cast iron skillet.

Notes on Salmon

  • I like to cook with one 12 ounce filet of salmon as opposed to buying two pieces because I think I'm getting a better cut if I ask the fish monger for one large center-cut. This may be my imagination, or maybe I'm on to something. 
  • I always put the salmon on foil, on a baking sheet and then add my olive oil and seasonings. This ensures the salmon skin sticks to the foil and I can easily remove the fish with a spatula after it cooks. Some people like crispy fish skin, I'm not of that camp. Another bonus is the quick and easy clean-up!
  • Often times I score the fish before I put it in the hot 400-degree oven. Scoring the fish through the meat but not cutting through the skin gives me pretty edges but not everyone cares, and I sometimes forget. The alternative is cutting the fish after it bakes, and the flaky meat leaves you with jagged edges. It will taste delicious no matter what you decide. 
  • One last note about the salmon - even though we have tried all varieties of salmon, our taste buds always come back to Fresh Atlantic.
This recipe that I altered/created calls for the following ingredients:
Olive Oil
Salmon Fillets (2)
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
1 Large Thinly Sliced Shallot
1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes
3 Springs Fresh Thyme
1 Minced Garlic Clove
1/4 C Chiffonade Fresh Basil
1 T Balsamic Vinegar

As I mentioned above, I heat the oven to a hot 400 degrees first. While the oven heats, I begin to mise en place (French pronunciation: [mi zɑ̃ ˈplas]) a French culinary phrase which means "putting in place" or "everything in its place."

Pull out the foil and place on top of the baking sheet with the salmon filet. I drizzle the salmon with a little olive oil and then sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. (The topping is so big in flavor the fish doesn't need much.) If the oven is still preheating, start prepping everything else. When the oven beeps, add the salmon and start your timer for 14 minutes.

Wash the tomatoes, thinly slice the shallots, mince the garlic clove, chiffonade the fresh basil.

To make the delicious balsamic blistered tomatoes, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Let it get REALLY hot until the oil just starts to smoke. Throw in the cherry tomatoes and get ready because if there is any water on them they will sizzle and pop.

I turned the heat down to a medium-high and didn't even pull the thyme off the stems, but threw the three sprigs right into the pan along with the sliced shallots. Shake the pan a little to get the tomatoes to blister all over. Stir to make sure the shallots get nice and caramelized. This takes 2-3 short minutes.

Throw in the garlic along with half the basil and shake the pan or stir until the garlic is so fragrant your mouth waters (30 seconds). Pull the sprigs of thyme out and throw in a pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper. Turn the heat off and add the vinegar, stir to coat all the ingredients.

By now the salmon should be done. I served the fish topped with the blistered tomato mixture and it was so healthy and delicious. It could have used a side of thick Texas garlic toast in my opinion and a glass of wine but Jim and I are on another health kick. Next time!

You all enjoy!

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