The week after Thanksgiving is always a bit of a rough re-entry into reality. Back to work, back to school, back to meals that (most likely) don’t include 10 starches and 3 Jello salads. Even though it’s the beginning of December, I start craving something lighter, fresher and healthier to help balance out the rich food frenzy that tends to occur in my family during the months of November and December.
Thanksgiving has just barely come to a close and already the Christmas menu planning begins along with the multiple, back and forth emails about who’s bringing what. I’m already looking forward to artichoke stuffed baguette bites, mini grilled cheeses with creamy tomato soup shooters, water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and Lindie’s famous black bean dip with chipotle raspberry preserves, poured over cream cheese (um, yup). Over the years, Christmas dinner in my family has morphed from the traditional turkey or ham into an hors d’oeuvre buffet on steroids and I have NOOOOO problem with that what-so-ever. 🙂 BUT, in preparation for what is certain to be a delectable array of
booty padding (ahem) amazingness, a little lighter fare is a welcomed change.
Because I am also working up a storm these days (fall-wintertime in the education world is busy yo!) I really appreciate it when a meal is also quick and easy to make and uses simple ingredients that I already have in my cupboard. Salmon bakes up fast in the oven and goes wonderfully with a delicious chopped salad tossed in my favorite maple balsamic dressing. It is light, crisp and savory with lemon and garlic flavoring the salmon, paired with hints of sweet maple syrup and the salty bite of feta cheese. I whipped this together in about 35 minutes which is just about as much time as I want to spend making dinner on a Wednesday night. Enjoy!
Simple Baked Salmon
1 Whole Salmon Filet
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush the foil with olive oil (to prevent sticking). Lay the salmon filet on the oiled foil and roll the edges of the foil around the salmon to create a sort of foil boat around the salmon. Brush salmon with olive oil and season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. The amounts on this are completely up to you. We really love garlic and black pepper so we tend to season a little heavier with these. I really love that the seasoning on this is simple and allows the salmon flavor to come through rather than masking it with heavy marinades. Slice the lemon in thin slices and arrange slices on top of the salmon.
*At this point, I allowed the salmon to rest and soak up the flavors of the seasoning for about 15 minutes while I made my salad. The longer the salmon sits the more flavor from the seasoning that will seep into the filet.
Bake the salmon for 15 minutes 375 then boost the oven to broil and broil for an additional 5-7 minutes to brown the top. Slice into smaller filets and serve over the salad.
Chopped Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing
For the Salad
2 Romaine Hearts (chopped)
2 c. Arugula (chopped)
3 Hard Boiled Eggs (sliced)
Chopped Pecans (I used the Sweet and Spicy Pecans from Trader Joe’s)
In a large bowl, toss together romaine, arugula, eggs, cranberries, pecans, feta and croutons. Add as many cranberries, pecans, feta and croutons as make you happy. I really like lots of “stuff” in my salad so I tend to be a bit heavy handed with the toppings. I’m a grown up, I do what I want (well at least when it comes to salad) and you can too. Add all the cheese, I won’t judge you. Toss with your favorite dressing or with my Maple Balsamic Dressing (recipe below), top with salmon (or your favorite protein) and enjoy!!
For the Dressing
1/4 c. Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 c. Maple Syrup (get the real stuff, no Mrs. Butterworths here)
1/2 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove (minced)
1 tsp. Mustard (I used regular ole’ yellow mustard)
Salt and Pepper
Combine first five ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over tossed salad. This is also a great marinade for chicken or pork.