Baking is science and I don't like formulas, but cooking is art and anything goes...and the simpler the better. It's all about less time at the stove and more time at the table. With a forty year passion for food I'm excited to share what I do in the kitchen nearly every day.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Zaatar Salmon with Tahini Lemon Vinaigrette

This is a great dish for July 4th as it can be prepared ahead of time, cooked in the oven or on the barbeque, served hot, cold, or at room temperature, and most importantly, it’s a summer crowd pleaser! I used zaatar which is a Middle Eastern mixture of dried herbs, but you could also use dill, tarragon, basil, thyme, sage or rosemary.

Start with the vinaigrette, these quantities will yield enough for the salmon and a salad to serve it over. Mix together the juice of one and a half to two lemons, two minced garlic cloves, two tablespoons of tahini, a quarter cup extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Adjust the consistency by adding some more oil or even a little bit of warm water.

Next, place your heaviest oven proof frying pan on the stove over medium heat, or on high if you’re cooking on a gas barbeque. Cut a pound and a quarter of salmon into four serving sized pieces, generously salt both sides, then season the top with zaatar. Swirl a teaspoon of vegetable oil around the hot pan to coat the bottom then place the salmon in skin side down.

After approximately four minutes, no need to flip, simply transfer the pan to a preheated 350-degree oven and cook for another five minutes, or until it’s done to your liking. For grill users, turn the burner off under the pan, leave the far burner on medium, and close the lid of the barbeque. Either way, when it’s done be sure to remove the salmon from the pan immediately to prevent it from cooking further.

For the salad, coarsely chop some endive, radicchio, and cucumber, then toss with a handful of kalamata olives, and the dressing…making sure to save some to drizzle over the salmon when serving.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Lentil Salad

Our local farmers are amazing! It’s only the beginning of June and at last week’s Waitsfield farmer’s market I saw asparagus, spinach, Russian Kale, radishes, broccolini, onions, herbs, scallions, turnips, greens, and more. Be sure to check it out!

I used the parsley, spinach, and onions I bought along with the first of the Florida corn from the grocery store for my first lentil salad of the season. Lentil salads are about three things, lentils, dressing, and all the other stuff.

You want your lentils firm…not hard or mushy.  For a cup of dry lentils, eleven to twelve minutes at a low boil is usually about right. Rinse with cold water and drain after cooking.

The dressing is where most of the flavor comes from, so don’t hold back on the garlic, herbs, and spices! Start by mincing a clove of garlic or two in the Cuisinart. Next, add a full bunch of parsley, stems and all, a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt, and a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil. Pulse into a coarse paste.

The oil and vinegar go in later, but for now, stir the parsley paste together with the drained lentils in a large bowl and set aside. 

As far as all the other stuff goes, there are countless options. Some of my go to ingredients include kale, arugula, squash, sweet potatoes, dried cranberries, scallions, carrots, celery, cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, dates, garbanzo beans, corn, feta cheese, olives, capers, and fresh herbs.

For ingredients like squash and sweet potatoes, it’s necessary to either sauté or roast them ahead of time. Corn, onions, and peppers can be used raw or cooked.

This time around I sauteed the onion and corn before mixing them together with the lentils and some sun-dried tomatoes. I then added some extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and red wine vinegar using a 50/50 oil to acid ratio. And as always, salt and pepper to taste.

For an easy one plate meal, throw some spiced shrimp, chicken, or tofu over the top.