A Duo Of Salads And Cod With Lemon Caper Relish
Very few of us can live on salad alone. Or soup. I know I can’t. Although, after the indulgences of the holidays, we all felt a little need to detox. With my parents staying with me in Birmingham until last week, it was easy to find a balance of good-for-you meals mixed in with little indulgences here and there. Indeed, they had not until now tried white bbq sauce and not as much soul food but I fixed that pronto. Culinary moves that called for lighter but just as tasty meals in between.
As cliche as it may sound, if you feel nurtured on the inside, you show it to the ones you loved on the outside.
Things have been busy and good. The blog qot a bit quiet and for good reason. After our holiday stint on the beach in Charleston, my parents came home to Birmingham with me. And I loved having them here. We cooked, went to the symphony, the movies. We ate out and in and tried to find balance between long days at work and short evenings at home. Or at least, it felt that way to me. Probably because the night still falls so early.
There was nothing more heart warming than to see my mom set the table while my dad would cut the bread. Habits I grew up with that never seemed as important as they are now. With every year that passes, I realize how lucky I am that I get along so well with them for one and that they are still willing to put their own routine on hold to come visit for an extended period of time.
The difference this year compared to previous visits is that everything was a whirlwind (again…). A mix of driving back and forth, packing boxes, unpacking boxes. All this with super trooper pup Tippy somewhere in the car, who at 16 years old is decidedly the best dog ever. The minute we both got back in the house last week after we said goodbye to my parents, we both plopped down on our respective beds. I did not see that pup surface until dinner time. I pretty much did the same thing well, except for a big grocery trip to stock up on everything I needed to fix a few dinners and lunches.
I was starting to feel my energy levels getting low and decided to nip that in the bud with plenty of greens, seafood and nutritious grains. Among the recipes I made are three I want to keep on rotation this year. A spinach salad from the cookbook Jerusalem, chock full of dates, almonds and spices, a pan seared cod with a tangy lemon relish from The Sprouted Kitchen coobook. My go to meal last week was a quinoa salad that existed only in my head for a long while. A mix of sweet and savory with red and yellow quinoa, lots of herbs and topped by a barely set soft boiled egg.
I hate to say but all meals this week will feature plenty of hot soups and liquids instead. I am hoping my mother did not pass on her bronchitis on to me as a farewell gift but sure looks that way. Already perusing my favorite coobooks for nutritious soups.
If you have a favorite(s), please share!
Baby Spinach Salad With Dates and Almonds, very slightly modified from Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi.
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3 1/2 oz pitted dates
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small pitas. roughly torn in 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup whole, unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sumac
1 teaspoon cumin
5 oz baby spinach leaves
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, onion and dates. Add a pinch of salt and mix well with your fingertips. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes. Drain the liquids and reserve the onion and dates.
Heat the butter and half the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the pita pieces and almonds and cook for about 5 minutes or until the pita is crunchy and the almonds are golden brown. Remove from the heat and add the sumac and cumin.
When ready to serve, toss the spinach, pita-almond mix along with the red onion and date mix in a large bowl. Add the remaining olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and toss one more time. Serve immediately.
Roasted Cod With Lemon and Caper Relish, slightly modified from The Sprouted Kitchen, Sara and Hugh Forte:
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
4 (5-ounce) cod fillets
2 shallots, minced
1/3 cup capers, drained
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Start the lemon a few hours before you plan to serve the dish, better yet, the day before if you can.
Cut both ends of the lemon, half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut into thin wedges and then a fine dice. Place the lemon pieces (and juices if possible) in a non reactive bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, the vinegar and honey. Stir well, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature at least 4 hours or overnight.
Pat the fish dry and allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400F and position a rack in the top third of your oven.
Add the shallots, capers, parsley, olive oil to the bowl where the lemon mixture is. Stir well.
Season the fish fillets on both sides. Place a large sautee pan on the stove over medium high heat and add the coconut oil and butter. Heat to melt. Remove from the heat and add the fish to the pan. Spoon the lemon relish evenly over the fillets, place the fish in the oven and roast for about 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
Quinoa and Persimon Salad:
Makes 4 to 6 servings as a main dish.
1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups water
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups peeled, cored and diced persimmons (about 3)
1/3 cup loosely paced flat leaf parsley, chopped
vinaigrette (recipe here)
In a large pot, bring the quinoa and water to a boil, reduce the heat and
simmer, covered until all the water has been absorbed (about 20 minutes).
Remove from the heat, fluff with a for and place in a large bowl to cool for 20
In the meantime, heat one teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet, add the onion
and cook until it turns translucid. Add the garlic and sautee for a minute longer. Remove from the heat. Let cool to room temperatre and add the diced persimmons and parsley.
Gently fold the cooked quinoa and persimmon mixture together along with the vinaigrette.
Serve room temperature or cold.