Monday, July 12, 2010

Maple Salmon and Mediterranian Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

      As you've probably gathered from reading this blog so far, I LOVE seafood. Shrimp, mahi mahi, swordfish, lobster, albacore and ahi tuna are among some of my favorites (or, they were before I got pregnant. Swordfish, I'm talking to YOU). More than any other fish though, salmon is king in my book.  It is a nutritional powerhouse, loaded with Omega-3's, high-quality protein, vitamins A and D, plus B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorous, and magnesium. Oh, and it tastes reeeeeally good, too. 

     When choosing salmon (or any seafood), it's important to opt for wild-caught, and avoid any fish that is farm-raised, for a lot of the same reasons that it's better to buy grass-fed beef over the commercially-raised kind. Most farm-raised salmon contains (in addition to a laundry list of other toxins): pesticides, antibiotics, and artificial colorings to give them that rich pink or red hue they wouldn't otherwise have (which has been linked to eye defects and retinal damage). Farm-raised salmon has less Omega-3s than wild-caught, less protein per ounce, and more PCBs, which have been shown to increase cancer risk. Not to even mention the environmental havoc these fish farms are wreaking.

     You get the picture.

     I wasn't trying to ruin your appetite there, but it's definitely something to keep in mind when you're out perusing the fish counter.

     On to the NOMS!

As you can see, I'm not very good at flipping salmon properly. :)

      This Maple Salmon recipe dates back to my Pre-Paleo days, where it's been one of my top salmon preparation methods for the past couple years. I wish I could take credit for it, but it is only slightly modified from a recipe from allrecipes.com (the original found here).

Maple Salmon
Serves 4

 Ingredients:
   1/4 cup maple syrup
   2 tablespoons coconut aminos or wheat-free tamari
   1 clove garlic, minced
   1/8 teas. salt
   1/8 teas. ground black pepper
   1 pound salmon

  • In a small bowl, mix together the syrup, coconut aminos/tamari, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  • Place salmon in a ziploc bag and pour marinade in with it.
  • Let marinate about 30 mins - 1 hour, tops. (Salmon has a richer flesh and can hold up to marinating a little longer, but generally speaking, seafood shouldn't marinate longer than 30 minutes or else it will turn mushy. Or, in the case of an acidic marinade, begin to 'cook'. Think ceviche.)
  • Grill: Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place salmon on lightly oiled grill grate and cook for 4-6 minutes per side.
  • Oven: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place salmon in shallow baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, or until it flakes easily with a fork.
A few things about this recipe: Like honey, maple syrup is considered "Paleo-friendly" because it is an all-natural, from-the-earth sweetener. But while it is Paleo-friendly, it should only be used sparingly. If you really want to reap the true benefits of the Paleo lifestyle, including weight-loss, balanced energy, and optimal performance (particularly with high intensity workouts), you should definitely keep the consumption of these things to a minimum. Eating Paleo doesn't mean that you can eat as much sugar as you want, as long as it's within the confines of the "natural sweeteners" category. It's still sugar!
     Mark Sisson does a good job outlining what he calls the "Carbohydrate Curve" Here.--Stay within those guidelines and you'll be fine. Keep in mind that our brains are trained to desire sweetness in food--once you veer away from using things to sweeten, you will find that the cravings for them will diminish (former candy addict, speaking here.)
         But hey. Don't be afraid to live a little. A little maple syrup or honey here and there isn't going to kill you, and if it'll keep you from going off on a full-on candy binge, by all means, have it! I just feel like I needed to clarify on the topic, since my last couple posts have involved honey/syrup. It's definitely a once-in-awhile treat.

       The next recipe I made as a somewhat salty, savory companion to the maple salmon. I drew inspiration from this recipe on Epicurious, adding a few things along the way. It's a hearty, filling salad made with some of my Mediterranian veggie favorites. Oh! and Bacon!

Mediterranian Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
Serving Size depends on how much you decide to make.
The dressing usually makes enough for 3-4 servings.

Ingredients:
   Salad: (Try and use your best judgment here. Use more of what you like, less of what you don't)
   Baby spinach
   Olive oil
   Artichoke hearts, halved or quartered (I used the frozen ones from Trader Joe's, defrosted.)
   Red onion, sliced
   Portabella mushrooms, sliced
   Roasted red peppers (to save time, I just used the ones from a jar--in water, not oil. Again, Trader Joe's.)
   Pine nuts
   Salt and pepper to taste

   Dressing:
   One package of uncured, all-natural bacon (the package I used had 10 slices of bacon)
   2 garlic cloves, minced
   1/4 teas crushed red pepper
   1/2 teas. dried thyme
   1/2 teas. dried oregano
   1-2 T Sherry wine vinegar
   1/4 teas salt or to taste
   
  • Cook bacon over medium heat to desired doneness. Transfer to paper towels.
  • Turn off heat, set skillet with drippings aside
  • Heat olive oil in a separate, medium-sized skillet on medium-medium/high.
  • Saute onions until they begin to soften, then add artichoke hearts, red peppers, and mushrooms.
  • While veggies are cooking, start heating the bacon skillet again on medium heat. Add garlic, red pepper,thyme, and oregano, stirring until garlic begins to brown slightly (about 1 min). Add vinegar and stir, then add salt. Scrape up those browned bits. Trust me, you want them in your mouth.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Place baby spinach in salad bowl or plate, top with cooked vegetables and a small crumble of bacon. Pour dressing on top, as well as a sprinkle of pine nuts. You may also want to add some crushed black pepper or a little more salt here.
A few things about this recipe: Not much to add here, except to say that the bacon dressing may need tweaked to suit your tastes depending on what kind of bacon you use. Some bacon produces more grease when cooked than others, and some brands are saltier than others, so you may need to adjust the amount of vinegar/salt.  Regardless though, you really can't go wrong with anything bacon.
    The night I made this, the bacon fat was actually from bacon I cooked for breakfast--we didn't add any to the salad (because there wasn't any left). It's never a bad idea to save some bacon fat to use in recipes like this, or to use to add a little extra (BACON!) flavor to a vegetable/meat you're cooking. Any bacon left over from this recipe can be stored in a ziploc bag in the fridge for a quick meat snack fix.  Also, it's a good idea (it's always a good idea) to make extra veggies. These ones are great in an omelette the next day!

      That's all for now.

In case you wanted to learn more, here are some good links to stuff about wild caught vs farm-raised salmon:

1 comment:

Kelsey said...

i need to save this dressing recipe!! NOM NOM

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