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Toasted Almond Parsley Salad

The salad below was made for me by a loved one, and it jumped out as a simple but good one. It’s quick but has enough body to be a meal to itself even without protein, which is rare, so I’m recommending it here.


1 shallot
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Coarse grain salt
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup toasted almonds (slivered, chopped, or sliced)
Extra-virgin olive oil


Mince the shallot and add to a small bowl. Pour the vinegar over the shallots and add a pinch of salt. Let sit for 30 minutes. (I prefer colder dressing, so I leave this in the fridge.)

Roughly chop the capers, parsley and almonds and add to the shallots. Add the olive oil, tasting as you go. Mix again and adjust the seasonings.

For variation, try different vinegars: white wine, balsamic, and flavored red wine vinegars work. Pomegranate-infused plays particularly well. If you go with a sweeter vinegar (like pomegranate), try adding raisins as well; adds sweetness and body and makes it an even better standalone meal.

Tomato & Quinoa Stew

The recipe below has been inspired by different dishes that I combined in one bowl to minimize the number of dirty dishes. As a result, I’ve split it up into two separate parts that get combined later. The tomato soup works as a standalone soup, and the quinoa & squash also works on its own, but it’s an excellent combination, especially in the winter months.

Cream Of Tomato

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste

1. Blanche the tomatoes and remove skin and seeds.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. (Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender.)

3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, (tomato paste,) basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well.

4. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

5. Add the cream to the soup and process/blend until it’s smooth.

Quinoa & Squash

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, halved crosswise, and seeded
12 fresh sage leaves, plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped sage
1/2 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3/4 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock (low sodium works best)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Olive oil

0. (The butternut squash isn’t strictly necessary, but I like it because it adds a certain sweetness that offsets the tomatoes’ acidity. Omit it if you must.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Cut squash into 1/4-inch dice. In a bowl, toss squash dice, olive oil, and sage leaves. Place on sheets and bake until tender and just golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely. Keep oven on.)

1. Heat remaining a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. quinoa and stock; bring to a boil. Cover; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 2 minutes.

3. Stir together quinoa, diced squash, chopped sage, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.

4. (The quinoa is also excellent the next day if you do this following step: coat a glass pie plate with cooking spray. Press in quinoa mixture. Bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees. You can cut into pieces like a cake. Makes for an excellent lunch the next day.)

The Combination: Tomato & Quinoa Stew

1. Mix the soup and quinoa in equal parts and stir well. Add fresh basil, sage and finely grated Parmesan, each to taste.

2. Eat this mixture.

Grilled Salmon With Garlic Aioli And Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts And Raisins

Grilled Salmon With Garlic Aioli And Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts And Raisins

1 lb salmon, cut into fillets
salt & pepper to taste

3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 raw egg yolk (optional – beware the health hazards of raw eggs)

Mix mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. You can serve it at room temperature as well, but I highly recommend cooling the aioli: the contrast between cold aioli and fresh-grilled salmon is something to be savored.

Meanwhile, place salmon (salted & peppered to taste) skinless side down on an oiled grill heated medium or high. (Grilling, I’m afraid, is more feel than any other cooking style, so use your judgment.) Turn over after about 5 minutes – it should only be 2 or 3 more minutes until the salmon is done, with a nicely seared skinless side. Serve immediately with a big spoonful of aioli on the plate.

I recommend a fresh vegetable on the side here: sliced tomatoes or cucumbers with a bit of salt works well to balance the relative fattiness of the meal.

Recommended Side 1: Brussels Sprouts With Walnuts And Raisins
(Inspired here, with substitutions made out of necessity first and preference thereafter.)

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup dried raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon brown mustard

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash sprouts, remove hard or dried leaves, and cut into halves or quarters. Toss sprouts with olive oil, salt, nuts and raisins. Pour into a baking dish and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Combine orange juice and mustard and pour over sprouts. Stir well and put back into oven for 20 minutes longer or until sprouts start to brown and are soft.

Apricot-Glazed Salmon With Asian Slaw And Brussels Sprouts Tempura

1 pound fresh salmon
1/4 cup apricot jam (ideally no sugar added)
honey (optional)
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
Salt and pepper


Set the oven to broil and heat to ~350 or ~400 degrees – the hotter you set it, the better the texture will be, but the risk of overcooking rises very quickly.

In a small saucepan (with a bit of light olive oil or other bland over low or medium heat, make the glaze by cooking the jam with the soy sauce until it begins to bubble and thins in texture. If you prefer sweeter sauces, you add a little honey toward the end.

Place the salmon on a foil-lined baking sheet and season them with salt and pepper to taste.  Brush or spoon the glaze on on the salmon.  Place in the oven for about 8 minutes (at 350) or as little as 6 minutes (at 400).  The top should be slightly browned and the center transclucent.

I recommend adding a little glaze at the end, but that’s up to you.

Recommended Side 1: Asian Style Slaw

4 scallions, trimmed and sliced
16-24 ounces of shredded green & red cabbage (or slaw mix)
1 small red onion, sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (from about a 1-inch piece)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, optional
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper

Separate the scallion layers (squeeze the white sections to get them to split). Toss the coleslaw mix or cabbage, the red onion, and scallions together in a large bowl until everything is thoroughly mixed. You can make the slaw up to this point up to a day in advance as long as you keep it refrigerated. I recommend making the dressing fresh before serving. Most people serve at room temperature, but in the context of this meal, it won’t hurt to have it a little cooler.

Stir the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl until blended, then pour over the vegetables. Serve within 1 hour of dressing, so you can make it prior to making the rest of the meal.

Recommended Side 2: Brussels Sprouts Tempura

¼ cup flour
¼ cup rice flour
1 teaspoon iodised salt
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons iced water
16 Brussels sprouts
oil for frying – canola or vegetable works; sesame oil gives the best flavor but has a lot smoke point

Bring water to a boil and add Brussels sprouts, cooking on high for 5 minutes. (This keeps them firm.) Drain well and dry with a paper towel.

Mix flour and rice flour together with salt in a mixing bowl. Add ice-cold water slowly while stirring, making the better somewhat consistent – don’t get rid of all lumps and bubbles.

Heat oil to 325F. Dip sprouts in batter and quickly fry in hot oil until golden – it’s literally a few seconds, and be careful with the spatter. Drain on absorbent paper. Serve with dipping sauce (below).

Dipping sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon mirin
3 tablespoons soy sauce

Mix sesame oil, mirin and soy sauce together in a ceramic bowl.

Salmon Orange Beurre Blanc With Bacon-Mushroom Brussels Sprouts And Three-Bean Salad

Inspired by Keith Law’s Tangerine Beurre Blanc. See general salmon and Brussels sprouts advice here.

6 Tbsp orange juice (roughly the juice of one orange )
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar (white balsamic worked)
1 Tbsp wine/cognac
1 small shallot, minced
2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro (or flat-leaf parsley)
4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Salt & pepper to taste
1 lb salmon fillet, cut into individual servings (1/3 pound per serving is usually good)

Preheat the oven to 350.

1. In a saucier, combine the first four ingredients and simmer down until the liquid is almost gone. Add the cilantro and remove from the heat.
2. While the sauce is reducing, heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the salmon’s flesh side with salt and black pepper to taste. Sear it flesh side down in the pan in about 1 Tbsp of olive or any vegetable oil. After two to three minutes the flesh side should be browned; flip it and sear two more minutes before transferring to the oven to finish cooking, at most five more minutes, until the center of the fish is no longer translucent but is still paler and more shimmering than the exterior of the fish.
3. To finish the sauce, adding about 1 Tbsp at a time, whisk in the butter quickly, using the heat remaining in the pan to melt it. The goal is to create and maintain an emulsion, which will not be possible if the pan and sauce cool while you’re still mounting the butter. You can experiment with this addition, as different amounts of butter will change the character of the sauce.
4. Season the sauce with salt/pepper to taste and serve as soon as possible.

Recommended Side 1: Three Bean Salad In Vinaigrette

1/2 cup kidney beans
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup garbanzo beans
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup fresh chopped white onion
salt to taste
minced garlic (optional)

FYI, this is not a traditional three-bean salad with green beans and a sugar-based dressing.

Soak black and kidney beans in 4 cups of cold water overnight, garbanzos in 2 cups separately. Discard soaking water and rinse beans. Bring water to a boil, add black beans and kidney beans. Simmer for 30-40 minutes. Separately, bring water to a boil and add garbanzo beans, simmering for 20-25 minutes. (To save time, you can soak all beans together and add garbanzo beans to the others about 7-10 minutes into the simmering process.) Cool beans in fridge for about an hour. Mix and add chopped onions, olive oil, vinegar, a clove or two of minced garlic and salt to taste.

You can alternate with different beans (except lentils), different vinegars, and even different onions here. It’s a versatile recipe.

Recommended Side 2: Bacon-Mushroom Brussels Sprouts
(inspired here)
4 cups Brussels sprouts, halved (larger ones quartered)
6 slices turkey bacon, strips cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup finely chopped white onion
1 cup sliced fresh white mushrooms
salt & pepper to taste

Rinse Brussels sprouts and remove hard or dry leaves. Cut large sprouts in half. Bring water to a boil, then add Brussels sprouts and boil 5 minutes per 1/2 pound. (It’s best to taste occasionally and take out at preferred consistency – like broccoli, sprouts can be eaten at different levels of firmness, so it comes down to preference.)
Drain and keep warm. Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels and drain, but keep the rendered fat. Saute onion and mushrooms in the rendered fat for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Add salt & pepper to taste. Stir in Brussels sprouts and turkey bacon and serve immediately.

Bourbon-Glazed Salmon With Mint Salad And Brussels Sprouts

Inspired by this. See general salmon and Brussels sprouts advice here.

1 pound fresh salmon
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 tablespoon black pepper (or to taste)
3/4 cup bourbon
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

Combine the bourbon, mustard, garlic, honey, vinegar and worcestershire in a small saucepan and whisk. Heat over high heat and allow it to come to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until mixture reduces by about half. Pour mixture in a bowl and let sit at room temperature while the salmon cooks. The glaze will thicken a bit at this time.

Preheat the broiler in your oven. Make sure the salmon is dry and season it with the coarse salt and pepper on both sides. Lay it on a non-stick baking sheet.  Broil for about 5-6 minutes on each side, until the top develops a crispy crust. If your salmon is very thick, you may need to go a little longer.

Remove the salmon from the oven and brush it with the bourbon glaze, using remainder as dipping sauce. Serve immediately.

Recommended Side 1: Mint-Cucumber-Tomato Salad

2 to 4 vine-ripened tomatoes
4 medium sized cucumbers, thinly sliced
2 small white onions, diced
20 mint leaves
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a large mixing bowl crumble goat cheese. Add tomatoes, cucumbers and onions to bowl. Cut mint leaves chiffonade-style into shreds and add to salad. Add vinegar and olive oil. Mix well. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then serve.

Recommended Side 1: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

A full pan can be roasted (with olive oil & butter) in about 20-30 minutes. For best results, set the oven to 400 F, and while it’s heating, remove loose or hard leaves from the spouts, cut them in half (quarters for the bigger ones), and put in an oven-safe pan previously prepared with olive oil. (Or butter, if you must.) It should take about 25-30 minutes, and it can’t hurt to flip the sprouts halfway through.

Chili-Honey Glazed Salmon With Black Beans And Garlic Butter Brussel Sprouts

Inspired by this. Four servings. See general salmon and Brussels sprouts advice here.

1 1/3 lbs salmon fillets
2 tablespoons orange juice (optional)
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper
4 slices of jalapeno (optional)
lime wedge

Heat oven to 450 degrees and place salmon in a foil-lined baking pan. Combine (orange and) lime juices, honey, cumin, chili powder (and hot sauce), stirring well to dissolve the honey. Pour about half of the glaze over the salmon, sprinkle with salt and pepper, place a slice of jalapeno per quarter, and bake 12 minutes per inch of thickness. Halfway through the cooking time, pour the remaining glaze on top. When the salmon is cooked through, remove from the oven. Spoon the thickened glaze in the bottom of the pan over the salmon and serve with wedges of lime.

Recommended Side 1: Cold Black Beans

1 lb black beans
1/2 diced white onion
2 cloves garlic
1 medium or large tomato
olive oil

Soak black beans overnight in big pot of water. Discard the water and rise beans, discarding any damaged ones. Cover beans with two inches of water and bring to a boil. Cook for ~40 minutes, stirring once or twice. Cool the beans in the fridge for about an hour. In the meantime, dice onion, tomato, and chop garlic. Toss with beans in a large salad bowl, adding olive oil and vinegar in equal amounts and in that order (to taste). Add a little salt and serve cold.

Recommended Side 2: Garlic Butter Brussels Sprouts

Rinse Brussels sprouts and remove hard or dry leaves. Cut large sprouts in half. Bring water to a boil, then add Brussels sprouts and boil 5 minutes per 1/2 pound. (It’s best to taste occasionally and take out at preferred consistency – like broccoli, sprouts can be eaten at different levels of firmness, so it comesdown to preference.)

While the sprouts are cooking, melt butter in a shallow pan and add chopped garlic, mixing thoroughly. Add cooked sprouts over low heat until they’re thoroughly coated in butter. Place sprouts in bowl and pour remaining butter over them. Serve.

Cooking: Upcoming Posts, And General Salmon & Brussels Sprouts Advice

I spent a week earlier this year making a different kind of salmon every night for a week – readers should know by now that I am a big fan of that particular fish – along with a side of Brussels sprouts (of which I am a new fan) and usually a third side of a sort. I’ll be posting a series of these recipes in the near future, so I’ll start today with some general tips before getting into detailed recipes.

First, some tips on buying and storing fish (some by Keith Law):

  • For best salmon, live in the Pacific Northwest or Alaska, and, ideally, catch fish yourself.
  • Failing the above, strive to buy fish the day you’re going to cook it, and no more than one day ahead. (see next bullet) Buy it at a reputable store with good turnover, where the fish is stored in front of you on ice and where you don’t actually smell fish at the counter.(Seriously, it should NOT smell fishy.)
  • If the above isn’t possible, flash-frozen and never thawed salmon is the next-best thing. Usually, such fish are frozen on the boat shortly after they’re caught, To thaw, put in the fridge overnight.
  • The color of farmed fish can be affected by its feed, so color isn’t a great guide for buying fish, but the flesh of the fish should look firm and not soft or mushy. When you get it home, stash it in the coldest part of your fridge – usually the back bottom rack – and make sure it’s in a sealed bag.
  • When buying salmon, the tail end of the fish is not lower quality but the flesh can lose its texture more easily, and the last inch or so of the tail is useless. Tail pieces also cook more quickly because they’re thin. This recipe is designed for cuts from the center of the fish. Be sure to run a hand along the fish to check for pinbones, which can be removed with good tweezers or a pair of (CLEAN) needlenose pliers.
  • When cooking/baking salmon, it’s usually better to err on the side of taking it off the heat source too soon rather than too late – the biggest salmon sin is overcooking it.

Brussels Sprouts

I’m a late comer to Brussels sprouts, but I’ve become a fan, and I’ve found they are a great side to anything, with their crucial quality being simplicity. A full pan can be roasted (with olive oil & butter) in about 20-30 minutes. For best results, set the oven to 400 F, and while it’s heating, remove loose or hard leaves from the spouts, cut them in half (quarters for the bigger ones), and put in an oven-safe pan previously prepared with olive oil. (Or butter, if you must, and say goodbye to your 70s.) It should take about 25-30 minutes, and it can’t hurt to flip the sprouts halfway through.

For cooked Brussels sprouts, it’s best to bring water to a boil, then add Brussels sprouts and boil 5-15 minutes depending on volume. It’s best to taste occasionally and take out at preferred consistency – like broccoli, sprouts can be eaten at different levels of firmness, so it goes down to preference. After cooking, they can be cooled for a salad, fried for tempura,  roasted lightly in various sauces, or just salted/peppered to taste and eaten.