Another Double-Duty Meal: Pesto Grilled Salmon
My good friend Katherine, who has two small children, said to me the other day, “Hey, I have a great idea for your blog.” I saw David smirk in the background because he says that exact thing to me often, only his ideas are usually quickly dismissed (rarely do they have anything to do with food, at least in any realistic sense, and most often, he’s just trying to be a wise guy. A big surprise, I’m sure, to any of you who caught his carbonara recipe.) He was waiting to see if I responded similarly to my friend.
But Katherine’s suggestion was genuine. She said she’d love to see more recipes that are quick and easy that can also provide for two meals. I’d gotten into the habit of cooking that way in the fall and winter last year — slowly roasting vegetables that could morph into side dish, soup, or pasta sauce; cooking two chickens at once for main dish, stock, chicken salad, and a curry or quesadilla. But summer demands a different kitchen ethic: both because our schedule was a bit more lax and because turning the oven on for more than 20 minutes at a time is out of the question, dinner was usually a one-shot deal. Quick, perhaps, but rarely any leftovers.
But as the weather cools slightly and the days become busier, I find myself, perhaps inspired by Katherine’s suggestion, trying to plan more carefully and think ahead, getting more mileage out of the effort I put into particular dishes.
This salmon is a good example. It isn’t difficult or labor-intensive, but because I cook a whole slab at once, it makes a fabulous main dish one night, and then will crumble up into a yummy salad later in the week, enough for another supper and at least a couple of lunches. On the first night, I slathered it with fresh basil pesto, grilled it, and topped it with a silky tomato-cream sauce and fresh basil. Grilled corn and baby eggplants rounded out the plate.
Look for the salad recipe later on, and don’t forget to grill a few extra ears of corn too. It’s another great leftover food.
Grilled Pesto Salmon with Tomato Cream Sauce
1 whole slab salmon (about 1 1/2 - 2 lbs), or 4 6-ounce steaks
1/2 cup basil pesto
Kosher salt and cracked pepper
2 T. butter
1/2 small onion, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium tomato, diced
1/4 cup white wine
1 T. heavy cream
Basil leaves, for garnish
Prepare the grill. Rub the salmon on both sides with the pesto (depending on how thick you make your pesto, you may need to add a bit of olive oil); you should have a nice, thin coating of oil and herbs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the salmon, skin side up, until it’s just translucent in the center (it took ours about 4-6 minutes per side).
Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic in butter over medium-low heat until soft. Add the tomatoes, and stir to heat. Sprinkle with salt. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and pour in the wine. Stir, cooking for a few minutes, until the vegetables have absorbed some of the wine; stir in the cream. Turn the heat down to low, and keep covered until the salmon is ready.
To serve, cut the salmon into 4 equal portions (if whole), and reserve 2 for salad later in the week. Top the steaks with the tomato sauce and fresh basil leaves.
–Recipe adapted from Come On In! by the Junior League of Jackson, MS