I always think it’s wise to carry a small patch and repair kit when you’re out bike riding. It comes in very handy if your bike gets a flat tire. Quinoa (say it with me: KEEN-wah) is the food equivalent, an amazing little grain that rebuilds the body when it needs repair, like after a workout. It can do that because it contains all of the essential amino acids (those we must get from dietary sources), allowing the body to build protein. It’s also full of magnesium, which is great for relaxing muscles and preventing cramps.
At heart, many cooks secretly fancy themselves to be magicians. Maybe it’s because people so often ask, “How did you do that?” But unlike, say Houdini, I always tell the tale behind the magic. Take sardines. I love them because they’re extremely high in omega-3s and vitamin D, both of which tend to be in short supply in people’s diets. Thanks to those mood-boosting nutrients, sardines are like little antidepressants in a can. That said, some culinary wizardry will be required to turn sardine skeptics into wild-eyed fans. Take my kitchen assistants, Jen and Katie. They swore they couldn’t stand sardines. I simply said, “You haven’t them the way I make them” and sent them out of the kitchen so I could perform my feat of prestidigitation. (No rabbit and top hat; just red onion, basil, parsley, mint, olive oil, and lemon juice). Voilà! They eagerly devoured the sardines and asked for more. Now that’s the kind of magic I like to practice.
Shopping for fish can be intimidating. Maybe it’s the fact that half of them are staring at you from behind the counter, as if to say, “Jeez, how did I end up here?” So, if you’re going to do them—and yourself—justice, here’s how to rustle up a fine, fresh fillet. You need to use your eyes and your nose. Look for a cut where the flesh is moist and glistening, with no flat, brown edges. If the fish looks dull, take a pass. Same goes for any fillet with a fishy or ammonia smell. Don’t be shy about asking your fishmonger a few questions, like when the fish came in and from where. Most stores have regular shipments; knowing that schedule in advance can help you plan when to have fish. If black cod were in a band, it would be the bass player: steady, meaty, but not much of a soloist. It benefits from some jazzy front men and especially likes to swing with citrus high notes. You’ll find plenty of those riffs in this dish.
Olive Mint Vinaigrette
Makes ¾ cup
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 finely chopped anchovy (optional)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup Kalamata olives, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh spearmint
¾ pound small purple potatoes, or French fingerlings
1¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 pound skinless king salmon fillet, pin bones removed (provided by Vital Choice)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (organic)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¾ pound green beans, trimmed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
6 cups salad mix
2 hard-boiled organic eggs, cut into quarters
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil
12 Niçoise or Kalamata olives
4 lemon wedges
Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Grill until medium rare to rare since it will continue cooking on it’s way up to the dining room. (I’m looking at 120 degrees and then factoring in cook over time)
To make the dressing, put the lemon juice, shallot, capers, Dijon mustard, anchovy, salt and pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking all the while, and continue whisking until smooth. Alternatively, you can blend all ingredients right in the container with the solid disk of an immersion blender. Add the olives and mint.
In a 4-quart pot, cover the potatoes with cold water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the potatoes to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, and let them cook uncovered, until just tender, about 10 minutes.
While potatoes cook, place the olive oil, lemon zest and mustard in a small bowl and stir to combine. Place the salmon on the baking sheet and spread the mixture evenly over both sides of the fish, then season it with ¼ teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper.
Roast until just opaque but still slightly translucent in the center about 7 to 9 minutes. Break the salmon into pieces.
Transfer potatoes with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add green beans to the boiling water and cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking.
Halve potatoes while still warm and toss with 2 tablespoons dressing.
Toss green beans, cherry tomatoes with a tablespoon of dressing. Toss the greens with enough dressing to coat. Divide the greens among the plates, then add the potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, salmon, eggs and olives. Sprinkle with basil. Serve with lemon wedges with remaining dressing on the side.
Reprinted with permission from Fast Food. Good Food. Copyright © 2015 by Andrew Weil, MD. Little Brown &Co., NY.
I’m not sure what I should call this dish. It’s more than a soup, but not quite a stew. Maybe it’s a stoup (you’re laughing now, but just wait till “stoup” makes its way into the Oxford English Dictionary—take that, mochaccino). Well, no matter what you call it, I think you’ll find yourself singing its praises often, as this is really a hearty, yummy recipe. This is an instance where putting everything into a simmering broth rather than onto a plate lets some culinary alchemy take place. The result is a feast for the mouth and a source of soothing warmth for the body. This is one of my favorite soups to make when I have leftover chicken in the fridge.