Grilled Salmon and Polenta

Salmon and polenta are two of my favorite ingredients to cook with. Usually I serve the polenta in creamed form. This dish allows the polenta to firm-up and it is then grilled, yielding a slightly sweet flavor.

Grilled Salmon with Whole-grain Mustard Sauce

Serves 4

¼ cup whole-grain mustard
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp minced chives
4 8-ounce salmon fillets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the grill to medium-high heat (about 400F).

In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, oil and chives.

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and place them skin side down on a baking sheet. Spread the mustard mixture over the tops of the fillets. Grill the fish for about 6 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Broil the salmon 6 inches from the heat for about 4 minutes, until the mustard sauce is browned and the salmon is cooked through.

Serve immediately.

Grilled Polenta with Spinach and Provolone

Serves 4

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 cup instant polenta
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pound baby spinach
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ pound provolone cheese, cut into 8 slices, at room temperature

Lightly oil a 9 inch round glass baking dish. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 ½ teaspoons of salt and slowly whisk in the polenta. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the polenta is thick, about 5 minutes. Pour the hot polenta into the baking dish and cover the surface directly with plastic wrap. Let stand until firm, about 25 minutes.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium high and add the spinach, stirring to wilt it. Season with salt and pepper. Keep the spinach warm.

Heat the grill to medium and oil the grates. Cut the polenta into 8 wedges and grill over medium-high heat until crisp and lightly charred, about five minutes per side. Place 2 wedges on each plate: top each with two slices of provolone cheese. Spoon the warm spinach on top and serve immediately.

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An Orange-infused Simply Asian Dinner

I adapted both of these orange-infused recipes from Simple Asian Meals cookbook by Nina Simonds using products from two of my favorite sources, Adoboloco, a Hawaiian hot sauce maker, and The Olive Mill, a local purveyor of quality olive oils and vinegars.

The prep time for both of these dishes combined is less than 30 minutes making this healthy Asian dinner combination perfect for a busy week night or a quick but elegant meal on a weekend.

Orange-Maple Salmon

Serves 4

1 ½ Tbsp orange zest
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 ½ Tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 ½ Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp Adoboloco jalapeno sauce (or other mild hot sauce)
1 Tbsp Olive Mill Blackberry Ginger balsamic vinegar
1 4 salmon steaks about 6 oz each
3 Tbsp olive oil, for oiling the grill

To make the Orange-Maple sauce: mix all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer for about 5 minutes. Pour half into a bowl and cool slightly. Keep the other half warm.

Arrange the salmon in one layer in a shallow pan, add the cooled sauce and turn the fish so all sides are coated. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for not longer than 15 minutes.

Preheat the grill to medium-high temperature. Brush the grill with oil and arrange the salmon on the rack. Grill until the flesh is just opaque, about 6-7 minutes per side, brushing with the sauce from the pan. Carefully slide the fish off the grill and serve with the remaining warmed sauce spooned over the top.

Spicy Orange Fennel Slaw

Serves 4

2 fennel bulbs (about 1 ½ pounds)
3 large seedless oranges
¼ cup chopped cilantro

2 tsp chopped or grated orange zest
½ cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp Olive Mill Lemon Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Japanese rice vinegar
1 tsp Adoboloco Jalapeno Sauce (or other mild hot sauce)
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 ¼ tsp Kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Trim the root end of the fennel bulbs and cut away the stalks and discard, reserving the fronds. Cut the fennel bulbs in half. Cut out the core and discard; cut the bulbs into very thin slices. Coarsely chop the fronds and set them aside.

Grate the zest and squeeze the juice of 1 orange, set aside. Peel the remaining 2 oranges cut away the white pith. Separate the orange sections and cut each section crosswise in half. Mix the fennel and orange sections with the chopped fennel fronds and the cilantro in a serving bowl.

Combine the zest, juice, ginger, oil, vinegar, garlic and seasoning in a bowl and mix thoroughly to create the dressing. Pour the dressing over the fennel and orange sections and toss lightly to coat. Cover and let sit or refrigerate to chill slightly before serving.

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Grilled Salmon and Warm Cherry Tomato Salad

Salmon is a versatile fish that can be cooked in any number of ways. Ample Bites likes Grilled Salmon the best. Other preparations include smoked, poached, planked, and salmon burgers or patties.

Grilled Salmon with a light coating of good olive oil, sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper brings out the essence of the main ingredient.

Grilled Salmon

Serves 4

4 8-oz salmon fillets
2 Tbsp good extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat you grill to a high temperature.

Brush the salmon with the olive oil and season with the sea salt and pepper.

Place the fillets skin side down on a clean, hot grill grate. Close the grill and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the fillets over, cover the grill again and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes for medium well done. If you wish to check the temperature of the fish it should read about 140F.

A perfect side dish for Grilled Salmon is a Warm Cherry Tomato Salad. The salad is light and fresh. The acidity of the tomatoes work well with the simple, meaty flavors of the fish.

Warm Cherry Tomato Salad
(Courtesy of Super Suppers Cookbook, Judie Byrd, 2006)

Serves 4 to 6

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 pints cherry tomatoes
6 green onions, bias-sliced, or ½ cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes and green onion, cook and stir until tomato skins begin to burst. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper. Remove skillet from heat. Add parsley, toss to combine.

An added plus for both the Grilled Salmon and the Warm Cherry Tomato Salad is the simple preparation. Both dishes can be completed in less than 30 minutes, which makes them perfect for a middle of the week dinner.