Lent is about half over. If you’re fasting from meat during Lent, and you normally eat a lot of meat, by now you’re probably getting kind of bored with fish sticks and macaroni-and-cheese. Time to try something new!
I’ve posted this recipe before, explaining how this delicious complete meal can be adjusted to work with whatever greens and starch you have handy. In this post, I’m making a specific version of it, helpfully illustrated with photos for all you visual learners.
Bonus Parenting Tip: If you have a child who is old enough to use a camera and is casting about restlessly saying, “I want somebody to dooo something with me!” on a Sunday evening just as you are about to start dinner, ask him to be your photographer for a cooking article! It will keep him busy, and it will enable you to get photos of every step of the process without having to pause the food preparation to wash your hands so that you don’t get fish fat and onion juice all over the camera! (That is the reason I don’t take photos of cookery more often. Well, also it’s because taking the extra time to load photos into a post rarely seems worth it to me–not being a visual learner myself.)
To make 4 servings of this particular version of Lemon Creamy Salmon with Tangy Greens, you will need:
- 15 oz. canned wild Alaskan salmon, including liquid
- 1 small onion
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 4 cups fresh kale
- 1/2 lb. whole-wheat rotini pasta
- 2 tsp. instant vegetable broth mix (We get this in bulk at the food co-op.)
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil (separately from above oil)
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 cup dried cranberries
This thrifty, Earth-friendly meal begins with a 15-ounce can of wild Alaskan salmon. The first step is to put on your apron. Get a container such as an empty milk carton, in which you will seal the bones so they won’t be too smelly in the trash.
Open the can of salmon and drain off the liquid into a measuring cup. Put the salmon into a bowl, and remove any bones you don’t want to eat. Salmon bones are soft and are a great source of calcium, so you might want to leave them in–but nobody in our family likes the gritty texture, so I remove the vertebrae and the larger ribs.
The can-shaped lump of salmon usually is a cross-section of one fish but may contain parts of two fishes. Pick up the whole lump and carefully separate it along visible grooves. When you see large bones, gently pull them away, leaving behind as much flesh as possible. Slowly crumble the chunks of fish, feeling for more bones.
If you want to eat all the bones, then all you do at this stage is crumble the salmon so it will be easier to work with in the pan.
Put water in an appropriate pot to cook the pasta. Cover it and place over high heat.
Dice the onion. Tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces, removing the tough center stems.
When the water boils, add the pasta, stir, and reduce heat. Boil it until done, about 10 minutes.
Put the onion and 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir occasionally.
In a few minutes, the kale will be less fluffy and a much brighter green. You can turn off the heat now, unless you like your greens cooked really “dead”, as my mom puts it. When the kale looks like the picture on the right, it still has some texture but is far less chewy than raw kale.
(If I’d planned in advance to take these photos, I’d have cleaned the stove! But that crud around the burner doesn’t touch the food, so it’s not hurting anyone, except aesthetically.)
(This is a good time to check the pasta. If it’s ready, drain it.)
Reduce heat under the skillet to medium and stir in yogurt, thyme, and lemon juice. Keep stirring frequently for about 2 minutes. The mixture should be bubbling slightly, not boiling hard.
Now add the salmon. Break it up into small chunks so that you get a creamy mixture, as shown at right. Heat for another few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, crush the garlic and mix it with 1/3 cup olive oil and the vinegar and salt, either in a small glass jar (which you will close and shake to mix) or in a small pitcher or bowl (where you can mix it with a whisk or fork). The advantage to using a jar is that you can store any leftover dressing by simply putting the lid on the jar. It lasts a month or so in the refrigerator; just warm to room temperature when you want to use it.
You can layer pasta, salmon, kale, dressing, and cranberries in a bowl, as shown at left. This makes a complex blending of strong flavors.
You can serve pasta topped with salmon, and kale topped with dressing and cranberries (not shown). This gives you a main dish and a salad.
You can serve each component of the meal separately, as shown at right. The dressing might go on the kale and/or the pasta, might be served on the side for dipping, or might be skipped by this diner as it is a very intense dressing that might not be favored by people who like their foods separate. Nicholas typically samples a little of the dressing but doesn’t use much of it.