Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Have your own Wild-Salmon Festival

Fresh wild sockeye salmon with leftovers from Wondee's in Hackensack.
Wild-caught salmon, homemade shrimp and broccoli with fresh garlic.
Wild salmon with pesto and leftover pasta from BV Tuscany in Teaneck.

Editor's note: Today, I've included a recipe for Blender Pesto. Pesto -- basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and grated cheese -- goes perfectly with fish, especially wild salmon from Alaska.
With fresh wild salmon from Alaska now selling for under $10 a pound at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, I'm throwing my own festival at home.

My wife brought home a nearly 2-pound fillet of Copper River salmon for $9.99 a pound this past Friday, and we're working our way through the seven or eight portions I prepared in a preheated, 400-degree oven.

The week before, Copper River salmon dropped to $8.99 a pound from $13.99 a pound, so now, it is only $1 or $2 more a pound than artificially colored farmed Atlantic salmon.

Before I cooked the wild-salmon portions, I squeezed on fresh lime juice and sprinkled them with Aleppo red pepper. The portions cooked through in 10 to 12 minutes.

When I took them out of the oven, I spread pesto on each juicy piece. I reheat the leftover fish in the microwave for about 1 minute.

I roast the heart-healthy fish on aluminum foil sprayed with oil, so the skin doesn't stick. 

I found a container of pesto in the freezer, marked "8/3/09," but it was fine, and I added grated Pecorino Romano sheep's milk cheese, also from Costco.

Here is the Marcella Hazan recipe I use:


Enough for 1 pound or 6 servings of pasta

2 cups fresh basil leaves 
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with a heavy knife handle and peeled
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1. Put the pine nuts, garlic cloves, basil and extra-virgin olive oil in the blender and mix at high speed.  Stop from time to time and scrape the ingredients down toward the bottom of the blender cup with a rubber spatula.  

2.  When the ingredients are evenly blended, pour into a bowl and beat in the two grated cheeses by hand. (This is not much work, and it results in more interesting texture and better flavor than you get when you mix in the cheese in the blender.)  If you do not want to use the pesto immediately, put it into a closed container and freeze it before you add the cheese.

3. Before spooning the pesto over the pasta, add to it a tablespoon or so of the hot water in which the pasta has boiled.  Do not heat the pesto before you add it to the pasta.

Note: The best pesto has a great deal of basil in it. I use leaves and stems, and pack a measuring cup with it to get 2 cups you need. 
The more basil, the better. I've also added mint, rosemary, arugula, parsley and other herbs, but think basil makes the best pesto.
The original recipe included 4 tablespoons of butter, but I eliminated that decades ago.

Of course, you don't have to eat pesto with pasta. You can spread it on bread or toast for sandwiches or on top of fish right after you take it out of the oven.

Today, for a snack, I spread some of the pesto that I had left on a slice of wild smoked salmon and rolled that up with a piece of sliced cheese.

Smoked wild salmon and eggs, above and below, would be wonderful with pesto.

Organic whole-wheat pasta and wild salmon with pesto.

Wild salmon with organic brown rice and carrots.

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