Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Salmon Salad with Asparagus and Raspberries

I have a confession.  I don't really like salmon.  Until fairly recently, I refused to eat most seafood. I would only eat it if it was heavily fried (calamari, fish fries, fried shrimp) or in sushi form. I absolutely love sushi but I refused to eat cooked fish. Weird, I know.  I think it has something to do with the smell of cooked fish that seems to linger in the kitchen.

Well, I am a firm believer that you can train your taste buds to like something if you really want to.  Here's the perfect example.  When I studied in Costa Rica, on my first morning, my host family made a huge fruit salad, which contained papaya. I had never tried papaya but figured I would like it because I like all fruit (colorful, sweet... what's not to love?). I was wrong.  The consistency was somewhere between hard and soft, the taste wasn't really sweet or sour. It tasted sort of like what I imagine carrot baby food would taste like. I hated it but was too shy to tell my family.  So I ate it every single morning and each day I hated it a little less.  Then, like magic, I woke up one day and liked it!  I don't know how it happened but I'm glad it did because I was sick of dreading breakfast.

Anyway, back to the seafood issue. I started out with ordering mild white fish (like tilapia) and shrimp smothered in other ingredients when I went out to dinner.  It went well. Then I started making dishes that included shrimp and tilapia and I found that I actually liked them!

I knew that my next step needed to be salmon because of all the health benefits.  I tried to eat it plain and baked and I just couldn't do it.  The taste overwhelmed me and all of the other food on my plate. Then I tried to bake it topped with pesto and loved it! I think I mostly loved the pesto, which is strong enough to counter the salmon. Therefore, I decided that I will continue trying to sneak salmon into meals by pairing it with strong flavors.  I think that once I get used to the flavor, I will eventually like it all on its own.  Just like the papaya.

This salad is the perfect combination between light and hearty.  It's lighter than having meat on a salad but heavy enough to be eaten as a meal on its own.  I love the combination of the salmon and asparagus, the salmon and raspberries, and the raspberries and walnuts. The sweetness of the raspberries cuts the fishy quality of the salmon quite nicely.  Plus, I love the short bake time of salmon and the ease of throwing together a salad.  Make this if you're craving a quick meal that's light, sweet, and savory!

Salmon Salad with Asparagus and Raspberry Vinaigrette (2 servings)
  • 12 asparagus spears (8 to 10 oz. total) or broccoli florets (1 in. wide and 3 in. long)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 pieces (4 oz. each) boned salmon fillet 
  • lemon juice
  • 3 cups mixed baby salad greens, rinsed
  • 1 dozen cherry tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz container of raspberries, rinsed 
  • 1/4 cup of toasted walnut pieces
  • Raspberry vinaigrette 
1. Preheat the oven to 425.  
2. Toss the asparagus with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Put on a baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper.
3. Rinse salmon and pat dry. Coat season the salmon with salt, pepper, and lemon. Place a piece of tinfoil on a baking sheet, spray the tinfoil with cooking spray, and put the salmon the the tinfoil. Bake both the salmon and the asparagus for about 15 minutes (I like my salmon a little more done than most people, so feel free to cut down the baking time to about 10 minutes).
4. Combine salad greens and tomatoes on plates.
5. Arrange asparagus equally around edges of plates. Top with warm salmon. Sprinkle servings equally with walnuts and raspberries. Serve with raspberry vinaigrette.

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