Saturday, April 30, 2011

Spring has sprung! Smoked salmon bruschetta

I seem to be incapable of finding the right cooking vs. blogging balance. When I'm cooking a lot I can't find the time to write about what I'm cooking, and when I do have the time to blog it usually means I'm eating frozen pizza (just kidding...sort of).

Anyway, our April house guests, combined with the warm weather, brought out the inner healthy chef in me. I've made a bunch of great new dishes which I will be sharing in the coming weeks. (And to the people who faithfully read my blog--all three of you--I promise to post more often so that you can continue to be inspired by the delicious concoctions I create).

The first is a recipe I found in my trusty Food Network magazine, which caught my eye because 1) it's pretty to look at, 2) it's easy to make ahead, and 3) it works as either an appetizer or a light lunch. It's also delicious! The actual name of the recipe is "Smoked Salmon Rillettes with Tomato Salad," but I didn't know what in the heck a "rillette" was so I called it bruschetta. (OK, so I just looked it up and "rillette" is similar to a pate, which I like to eloquently describe as "mashed up meat mixed with other stuff." Actually, when you look at this recipe you'll see my description is pretty dead on. If all else fails, I might apply for a writing job with the Oxford Dictionary!)

Smoked Salmon Rillettes with Tomato Salad (courtesy of
(otherwise known as Smoked Salmon Bruschetta)


For the salmon:

1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound salmon fillet, skin removed, cut into 4 pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/4 pound smoked salmon
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened ***I used mayo to make it dairy-free
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For the salad:

1 pound grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream ***I left the cream out to make it dairy-free
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Freshly ground pepper
Sliced crusty bread, for serving ***I drizzled the bread with EVOO and toasted under the broiler before topping with the salmon spread & tomatoes


Prepare the salmon: Cook the shallot with the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, 2 to 3 minutes. Season the salmon with salt and pepper; add to the skillet. Add the wine, cover and cook over low heat until opaque, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the salmon to a plate and let the pan juices simmer, 2 minutes. Let cool.

Pulse the smoked salmon and butter in a food processor to make a coarse paste. Flake in the cooked salmon; add the pan juices, lemon juice, nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse until incorporated. Spoon into a bowl, cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Make the salad: Toss the tomatoes, sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the vinegar, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then whisk in the olive oil. Whisk in the cream, tarragon and chives. Toss in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the salmon rillettes and bread.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Penne with peppers, pesto & sausage

There are so many evenings when I find myself staring helplessly into the refrigerator at 5:00 pm, wondering if it's possible to concoct anything remotely healthy, tasty, and quick out of what's in there. Sometimes I give up, shut the door, and pray there's something in the freezer. Other times, inspiration hits and I come up with a way to transform some odds and ends...a leftover bell pepper that's starting to get wrinkly...some chicken basil sausage from the local butcher...into a meal that seems like it was well thought out and carefully planned.

That happened the other night with this dish. It's nothing fancy or super original, but it was tasty, full of veggies, and quick and easy to prepare. Best of all, it only required six ingredients.

Penne with Peppers, Pesto & Sausage


extra-virgin olive oil
2 bell peppers (any combo of red, yellow and/or green works), seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
approx 1/2 lb of Italian-flavored sausage (I prefer chicken sausage since it's less greasy)
pesto (store bought or homemade)
penne pasta (or any other pasta of your liking)


In a large skillet, saute the sliced onion and peppers in olive oil over medium-low heat for several minutes until tender. In the meantime, boil the water for the penne pasta. After the veggies are tender, remove the casing from the sausage and crumble the sausage into a pan; cook until no longer pink. When the pasta is done cooking, toss it with the pepper/sausage mixture. Add several healthy dollops of pesto and stir.