Salmon with Baked Couscous

I didn’t grow up eating much fish, so this recipe for salmon with couscous was the only fish recipe I made for several years. It was salmon, baked under a layer of couscous flavored with olive oil, lemon juice, olives, capers, and raisins.

I came across this recipe in graduate school, back in the days where I (and many others) still printed out recipes to try. One of my primary sources back then, and source for this recipe, was Food Network, although I didn’t watch the show this recipe aired on. Salmon with a Couscous Crust purportedly served two, but easily served three or four. It was easy to make as written, and delicious. I loved, and still love, how quickly it comes together. Simply mix together couscous with seasonings, pour on top of salmon, and bake.

Salmon with Baked Couscous and Sauteed Zucchini

Of course, I made changes. The recipe took more olive oil than needed in a weeknight dinner, so I cut it back. I omit raisins since I don’t care for them. I inexplicably like capers but not olives, so I use extra capers as a substitute. I’ve substituted almonds for pine nuts, and forgotten them altogether before; both ways are fine. The recipe is delicious even when I forget parsley. No matter the variation, though, the salmon is moist since it’s poached in the water, and the couscous is flavorful.

This recipe doesn’t take long to put together, and is pretty hands-off. The quantity of couscous easily feeds three or four once you serve it alongside a vegetable, so I usually use extra salmon and plan on leftovers for lunch or dinner for the next day.

Salmon with Baked Couscous

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Eggplant and Barley Salad

Summer has been very hot in New Jersey this year. I don’t think it’s usually quite this hot, although I don’t know for certain as it’s only our second summer here. When the heat rivals summer in the Midwest, meals for us usually consist of whatever Alex has grilled that day, leftovers from when Alex grilled, pancakes (because I use an electric griddle), or BLTs, which are really cooling if you (perhaps heretically) microwave your bacon and don’t heat up your oven or a frying pan.

This Eggplant and Barley Salad from Smitten Kitchen is really very nice in the summer, once you get past the steps of roasting vegetables. I first made this salad a few years ago, and I really liked it. Alex doesn’t like eggplant, but he enjoys this salad. Roasting the eggplant makes it a little less eggplanty and more delicious. The barley is tender yet chewy, flavored with cumin and coriander. The grain is surprisingly good cold. I usually don’t like salads because dressing is too vinegary or assertive, but this salad is dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic, all of which I like. Tomatoes and roasted zucchini (and olives, if those are your thing) give the dish extra flavor. I love the balanced flavors in this dish.

This is a delicious, flavorful summer salad. It works great as a make-ahead vegetarian/vegan meal and is perfect as leftovers on a lot summer day. We had 4 dinner-sized servings plus some for a toddler, but it would yield more as a side dish.

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One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes

One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes is one of my favorite new dishes. I’ve made it several times already since I first tried it. It involves minimal prep – maybe about 10 minutes while you cut everything up and heat the pot. It’s easy enough to do with a toddler playing at your feet, or sitting on the counter watching you. It’s ready after 30 minutes of hands-off cooking. It smells amazing by the time it’s done, more amazing than you think anything with this few ingredients can be.

This will serve two and a toddler as a vegetarian meal, or more as a side dish.

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Multigrain Bread Extraordinare

My goal in closing out the year – beyond just meeting my goal of making 50 bread recipes this year – was to not double-up on blog posts as 2014 counts down. However, it’s either post two recipes today or tomorrow or not share 50 bread recipes with you, and not sharing all the recipes with you in 2014 is unacceptable! So this morning, I share with you Bread 48, Multigrain Bread Extraordinare from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

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A few things I really liked about this bread – it took whole grains, which increased its fiber and other nutritional content, and was low in fat. It was also easy to make, and happened to be very soft and delicious.

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Applesauce Oatmeal Bread

Bread, Week 10: I wasn’t sure what to bake this week. I was out of town over the weekend so I had no time to make yeast bread. I didn’t have ingredients (mostly bananas) for other bread recipes I had bookmarked. This Applesauce Oatmeal Bread recipe was perfect because I had everything available to make it. I wish I could tell you I had a burning desire for an autumn bread after the additional snow we got during the first weekend of March, but no! Convenience was the sole reason I made it, but I was happy with the results.

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Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Sorghum Salad

The other day I made a delicious Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Sorghum Salad. I’d never used sorghum before, but I had to try it when I saw an inexpensive bag of it at a supermarket a few months ago. I decided to try it when I had a squash around that I wanted to use. I cooked the sorghum while I roasted the squash. In addition to the cranberries, the salad also included pecans and pumpkin seeds (which you can toast while you dice squash) and a few bites of dates. The dressing was a touch of olive oil and salt – nothing more. This salad is nice in that you can prepare all your ingredients in advance and assemble it hot or cold.

Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Sorghum Salad
Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Sorghum Salad

This was pretty good. I didn’t know what to expect from the sorghum, but it was a very mild, soft grain. The flavors went together well. This was a great place to use a good, fruity olive oil as you can really taste it, since it’s the only dressing on the salad. The cranberries and dates provided lots of sweetness for the salad. You could probably go with cranberries only for simplicity. I enjoyed both the pumpkin seeds and the pecans, but you could also go with one to make the ingredient list shorter. I had more squash and sorghum than the recipe called for, so I tossed it all into the salad after we tried it. It was still tasty with the extra ingredients.

I really enjoyed the simplicity of this dish. It was tasty and easy to make, and I can see myself making it again – perhaps with a squash I already have. I might try barley or another chewy grain in it next time.

Granola Muffins

Granola is one of those foods that I go through phases with. I enjoy making it and eating it, but then I move on to something else. I had made granola a little while ago and still had a jar or two of it sitting around. Definitely time to get that food eaten up.

So, granola muffins seemed like a great way to use up my granola. Why is making it into breakfast muffins better than just eating it? …I guess that once I bake something, I’m forced to eat it. When I’m not on a granola kick, I can easily let the granola languish, becoming just another fixture in my kitchen, cluttering my counter. After all, it doesn’t go bad.

I’ve made these muffins twice. The granola muffins call for no egg. The recipe calls for buttermilk, but I used an equivalent amount of yogurt both times with great success. Pick the fruit pieces out of the granola you use for topping, and bury them inside the muffins so they will remain moist; if you leave them on top, they may burn (particularly in my oven). I think this works best with a strongly flavored granola – the last batch I included had dates, which tasted great against the whole wheat.

Yogurt Granola Muffin
Yogurt Granola Muffin

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Big Sur Hide Bread

This weekend, I made Big Sur Hide Bread again. I first tried it two years ago, and I liked it, but I honestly wasn’t quite satisfied with how they turned out. The rolls were flat (didn’t rise), and incredibly dense, and the crust was too tough after the day I baked them. I didn’t think there was a problem with the recipe – I thought there was a problem with my implementation of it. I liked the flavor of the rolls and I liked how quick they were to make, so I wanted to try again and do the recipe justice.

To prepare, I took a look through the comments on the original recipe to see if other bakers had the same issues I did. It sounds like they did, so the lackluster results of my original attempt couldn’t entirely be my fault, unless I just measure very heavy cups of flour. I made a few changes in ingredients, and I’m really happy with the results.

Big Sur Hide Bread
Big Sur Hide Bread

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How I used up the rolled oats in my pantry (making Power Bars and lots of granola)

I’ve published a new blog post every day for the past 14 days. So exciting! I didn’t get blog posts up so regularly even when I was doing my 365 recipe challenge in 2010. It’s addictive; I don’t want to stop! I’ve more-or-less blogged about everything interesting that I’ve made recently, so I’m reading some old drafts of mine to see what I meant to tell you about but never got around to.

I wrote the majority of the following in July and August, while I was preparing to move from our house and while we were house-sitting, and in fact, before we had rented our current apartment.

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Quinoa with Latin Flavors

I found the recipe for Quinoa with Latin Flavors a while ago, and after making it tonight, I’m sad that I waited this long to try it.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a South American grain; it’s gluten-free and a great source of protein. I’ve had some in my pantry for a while now (they sell it at Trader Joe’s), but I’ve generally been at a loss of what to do with it. I know that I could cook it just like I would rice or couscous, but honestly, brainstorming side dishes isn’t a strong point of mine.

This quinoa recipe was easy to make. First, you toast a cup of quinoa in a skillet for about 5 minutes. Next, you saute chopped onion in a tiny bit of oil for a few minutes; add garlic and a small can of green chiles, and then add broth and the toasted quinoa. (They call for a 14oz can of chicken broth; I used 14oz water and 1.5 cubes of vegetable bouillon.) Simmer until the quinoa has soaked up all the liquid; the recipe says this will take 20-25 minutes, but mine took less time since I had my gas range turned higher. Remove the quinoa from heat, and toss with lime juice, cilantro, scallions, and roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds). I had plenty of time while the quinoa cooked to chop up the cilantro and scallions. I used squash seeds that I roasted a few days ago in place of pepitas.

Quinoa with Latin Flavors

Alex and I really enjoyed this dish. It was bright from the lime, but not too bright. I enjoyed tasting the cilantro and scallions distinctly as well. The roasted seeds really added a nutty flavor to the dish; however, they were a little stale and chewy after two days so I would (re)toast them if you’ve got fresh seeds you’re using. This dish had green chiles in it, but it wasn’t spicy. You could serve the quinoa with chicken or fish, but we served it with… nothing, since I made a dessert for later.

This recipe was fast, easy to make, and delicious. It’s definitely a keeper. I wouldn’t do anything different except to make sure I toast my pumpkin/squash seeds right before making the dish (or buying some that were already toasted). If you want to experiment with quinoa, I recommend you give this recipe a try.