Restorative Salmon Salad

As some of you know, I just spent last week at a convention for work, living off hotel food and working twelve hours a day. As often happens at a convention, you sort of turn to food to manage the fact that you’re incredibly stressed out and exhausted—and my goodness if they don’t provide you with an abundance of things to eat, and eat, and eat. I knew it was bad when I had a huge plate of food for lunch on Friday, followed by dessert, followed by two enormous cookies for an afternoon “snack.”

Needless to say, when I finally got back to DC, I was ready to make a light, restorative, vegetable-filled dish that would make me feel like less of a human balloon. And after days of room service, I desperately wanted to make something on my own and get back into the kitchen. So I created this salad out of what we had in the fridge and a couple things I picked up at the grocery store (namely, the salmon and asparagus).

I chose the salmon and almonds for the salad because they’re both sources of good fat, and the mixture of vegetables is satisfying without being heavy. This sounds like a finicky recipe because you have to cook three separate elements (the asparagus, the corn, and the salmon), but I actually found it very east to cook, as each thing only takes a few minutes.

I offer up this recipe to anyone in need of a restorative meal. I only hope that you need recovery from something more fun that work-related travel.

Restorative Salmon Salad
Makes four servings

2 ears corn on the cob, husked and cleaned
1 lb asparagus, washed with the stems trimmed off
1 lb salmon fillets (you can use less if you want. I used more because I wanted to make enough for wonktheplank and I to have leftovers for lunch)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon, sliced in half
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup almonds, roasted and salted
Lettuce leaves (about four cups—but this can be increased/decreased according to how much you like lettuce)
Equal proportions of olive oil and white wine vinegar (the amount you use will vary depending on how much lettuce you use. I probably used two tablespoons of each and I used approximately four cups of lettuce. If you want a less acidic dressing, use less vinegar, since the lemon also ups the acid level of the dressing)
1 tsp. mustard (approximately)

Using a microplane zester, grate your garlic into a fine paste (or, you could also use a garlic press). Rub paste over salmon, and season salmon with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat a couple inches of water in a covered saucepan that is big enough to hold your corn ears. Once the water is boiling add some salt and boil the corn for 6 minutes. When finished, take the corn out of the water, let it cool a bit, and then slice the kernels off the cob.

Meanwhile, fill a large-ish bowl with water and ice (this will be your ice-bath for the asparagus). Pour out all but half an inch of the water in the saucepan you used for the corn, and cover with a steamer basket. Bring the water back to a boil, and add your asparagus, and cover the pan. Steam for 3-4 minutes until tender but not soggy. Immediately place the asparagus into your ice bath to stop the cooking. When cool, remove from bath, shake off the excess moisture, and slice the asparagus stems into chunks.

While the vegetables are cooking, place olive oil in a sauté pan and over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking. Place salmon in pan, searing on each side for 1-2 minutes. Take one lemon half half and squeeze juice over salmon, after which you can toss in the wine. The wine and lemon juice will boil up and sizzle vigorously, and it will smell absolutely delicious. Let it boil for a minute or two to thicken, before reducing the heat to medium-low. Cook until the salmon is opaque throughout. Remove to a plate to cool slightly, and then break the fillets into chunks.

Now it’s time to make your dressing. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard in a small blow. Add the juice of the second lemon half, as well as salt and pepper. If you want to be adventurous, take the salmon-wine-lemon drippings from your sauté pan, and add to dressing. Mix it all together vigorously until the the oil and other ingredients form an emulsion.

Now take your lettuce and put it into individual serving bowls. Add your bits of salmon, asparagus, corn, and a sprinkling of almonds. Add your dressing and mix together until the lettuce leaves are coated.

And you’re done! Restoration can commence.


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