So, I get occasional grief from my friends and co-workers who assume that I have these gourmet healthy meals every night. Au contraire! I’m prone to the occasional pizza night, sandwich night, leftovers night, or even plain grilled chicken/steamed broccoli/microwaved rice night. Not often though, life’s too short to eat sub-par food, and as I’ve shared, I do get genuine pleasure out of preparing healthy, yummy meals for my friends and family….most of the time.
Today, I’m not going to share a recipe exactly, but rather how I reuse some stuff from my mid-week meals to throw something quick and delicious together. I had some cilantro-lime sauce leftover from last night’s dish (Asian Chicken with Cilantro & Lime Dipping sauce – check out my prior post). To be honest, it wasn’t much, just about 1/3 cup left. I’m glad I saved it though because it did inspire me to make this evening’s delish meal, which came together in a snap.
I had a business lunch today next to a huge Whole Foods store and couldn’t resist stopping in. They had some gorgeous fresh salmon on special so I grabbed enough for 3 good portions (knowing my kids would split one). I also picked up a bottle of chardonnay, a handful of slivered almonds from the bulk bin, about a pint of curried Israeli couscous salad with golden raisins from the salad bar, and some machê. Do you know about machê? Check it out here: http://www.foodreference.com/html/fmache.html. It’s a great buttery, nutty micro-green reminiscent of watercress. Anyway, together with what I already had in my fridge, this turned out to be a terrific meal in under 30 minutes.
Here’s the plan. I took the leftover dipping sauce and added zest and juice from ½ of an orange, plus about 1 tsp of honey, and 1 tsp of sesame oil. I shook that up and poured it over the salmon to marinade while I pulled everything else together. While the fish soaked up the sesame, limey deliciousness, I moved the couscous salad into a pretty bowl. After all, there’s no need for my family to know that I didn’t slave all day on that dish. I’m looking some help on the laundry tonight after all! Then, I put some of the greens in a salad bowl with the slivered almonds and the other half of the orange, cut into sections. I also added a few thinly sliced radishes and some torn mint leaves that I had leftover from the Shrimp Salad I made earlier in the week (check that out here if you like: http://blogcritics.org/tastes/article/recipe-shrimp-and-spring-vegetable-salad/).
I dressed the salad with a store-bought ginger citrus soy vinaigrette that I had on hand, and seared the salmon in some olive oil over medium high heat, finishing it up on the skin side. I dirtied one sauté pan, one knife and 2 bowls and had everything on the table in about 25 minutes. Amazing!
I share this because I want readers to know you can reuse so many things in different ways and have great meals ready, even on soccer practice night! Don’t be intimidated by ingredients outside of your comfort zone. With some creative reuse, a few pantry staples, and maybe one or 2 key purchases, you can pull multiple meals together from similar ingredients and keep your family coming back for more.
If you’re on a tight budget, you can make a few small tweaks to this game plan, and still have a lovely meal. First, skip the wine. Next, you could definitely use catfish, tilapia, or another low cost fish in lieu of the salmon. Forego the machê, and pick up a bag of baby spinach leaves or a head of green leaf lettuce. Instead of the curried salad from the pre-made bar, you can grab a package of 90-second microwave rice and after quickly cooking it as directed, toss it with some curry powder, a handful of raisins, and any green onions or herbs you may have on hand. Voila! Simple, right?
By the way, my kids were rewarded for their bravery in eating the curried couscous, fancy-looking salad and glazed salmon with family movie night and some Whoppers’ Brand malted milk balls. It’s all about balance after all and nobody should be denied an occasional treat. They ate up ALL their fish and veggies, so they deserve a little chocolate. Now that I think about it, so does Mommy…Enjoy!