Sunday, April 26, 2015

Salmon and Asparagus with Orzo

Bowlful of Salmon with Asparagus and Orzo
One Bowl Might Not Be Enough

Recipe adapted from Monday to Friday Cookbook

With new spring asparagus on sale and plenty of sustainable salmon on the market, this one-pot meal was inevitable. The first time I made it, our neighbor Matt dropped by. He loves salmon, but rarely eats it because his wife is a strict vegetarian. Since this recipe makes a large potful, I served him a bowlful, which he greatly appreciated. I encouraged him to have seconds if he liked. He assured me that one bowl was plenty—until he finished it and admitted that a little more would be even better. We agreed. Plan accordingly.

Orzo, Asparagus, and Salmon Cooking in Pot
One Pot Meal = Fast Prep and Cleanup
Readers will note that this recipe is not strictly seasonal, because it contains summery fresh dill and springtime asparagus. Purists can use some dried dill, or fresh parsley, which is winter-hardy. Personally, I prefer to subvert my dominant paradigm and stick with fresh dill. The original recipe suggests that basil could be substituted, but salmon with dill is a classic pairing for good reason. I did substitute soaked dried tomatoes for fresh, and think the more intense flavor is even better, especially given that flavorful local tomatoes are still several months away.

Serve this springtime comfort food without guilt. Salmon is loaded with omega-3 essential fatty acids and protein. Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, vitamins A, C, E, and K, various B vitamins, and minerals. The orzo—well, that’s the comfort part. It’s particularly satisfying when combined with chunks of salmon and asparagus. Enjoy this unusual blend of flavors and textures with your family and/or friends. Leftovers make a portable and delicious lunch, served either hot or cold.

Asparagus, Dill, Salmon, Dried Tomatoes, Orzo, and Red Pepper
Spring-Summer Ingredients
Salmon and Asparagus with Orzo
serves 6-8

1½ lbs. salmon fillets
2 lbs. medium asparagus (~36 spears)
½ cup dried tomatoes
hot water
small bunch dill, parsley, or basil
1 lb. orzo
4 cups water
2 cups chicken or fish broth
½ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
¼ - ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
fresh ground black pepper

Prepare salmon by removing any bones with tweezers or small pliers. Use a fillet (thin) knife to remove fish from skin if needed. Cut salmon into ~¾ inch chunks.

Break tough ends off asparagus and cut into ¾ inch pieces.

Place dried tomatoes in a small bowl and just cover with hot water. Set aside.

Wash and stem dill (or other herb) and break or chop into small pieces. You will have ¾ - 1 cup; if using parsley, use ½ - ¾ cup.

Bring water and broth to boil over medium high heat in a deep soup pot, about 6 – 8 gallons. Add salt and orzo and stir a few times. Return to simmer and cook 4 minutes partially covered, stirring up from bottom once or twice to prevent sticking.

While orzo is cooking, make sauce. Drain most of liquid from tomatoes, but don’t squeeze dry. Combine rehydrated tomatoes, dill, olive oil, white wine vinegar, and red pepper flakes in food processor fitted with metal blade. Process until pureed. Remove to small bowl so it can quickly be added to the pasta right before serving.

Add asparagus to orzo, stir, cover and return to simmer until asparagus is tender, about 4 more minutes, stirring once or twice.

Add salmon to orzo, cover, and cook until fish is just cooked through, another 3 – 4 minutes.

Drain orzo mixture in sieve. Scrape up any orzo that sticks to bottom of pot, but leave it in the pot. Return the drained mixture to the pot. Stir in the tomato sauce until well blended.  Immediately serve in bowls with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Leftovers: Can be eaten hot or cold.

Variations: Substitute fresh tuna or fresh peeled, deveined shrimp for the salmon.

Dill, Rehydrated Tomatoes, and Spices in Food Processor
Easy-Prep Pasta Sauce

Pot of Orzo, Salmon, and Asparagus with Sauce Just Added
Simply Stir in Sauce and Serve

Bowl of Salmon and Asparagus with Orzo
Countdown to Ecstacy

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