Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Omega-3 capsules aren’t enough for me. I need a regular salmon fix to keep me happy. When I managed a McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant I ate salmon at least once a week, probably more if you count the salmon burgers and salmon tartare too. I ate like a queen when I worked there, a healthy queen. I was a willing guinea pig for any new menu ideas the executive chef had. Sometimes he made dishes that we knew would never make it to the menu — too “out there” for our typical guest — but damn they were good.

This is a super-quick dish that packs some heat along with a bit of sweetness. I found the recipe on Aggie’s Kitchen. She adapted it from a Food Network recipe from Ellie Krieger’s show. Ellie served the salmon with herbed lentils so I did the same. The lentils take longer than anything else so start those first. I also made broccoli sautéed with garlic and hot red pepper flakes, another quick dish.

Once you mix the salmon rub, take a taste and adjust it if you think it’s either too hot or too sweet. I thought the proportions below were perfect. I used a generous portion of rub on each of my three fillets and had a bit left over so I think it would be just right for four fillets. I made the salmon in the toaster oven instead of the oven or grill. I’m guessing I saved energy doing it that way, what do you think?

Salmon with Sweet and Spicy Rub

You’ll need a grill, grill pan or pan for broiler, small bowl or plate and spatula.

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Fire up the broiler and coat your baking pan with cooking spray, or coat your grill or a grill pan with cooking spray and preheat over medium heat. Combine the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Brush each salmon fillet with 1/2 teaspoon of the oil, and rub each fillet with about 1/2 Tbsp of the spice mixture.

Grill or broil the salmon, flesh side down, until nearly charred, 4 to 5 minutes. These times are for the grill so watch closely if you’re using the broiler. Flip the salmon and cook another 5 to 6 minutes for medium doneness. Adjust your times if you’re using an oven broiler, toaster oven (yes, it’s quick!) or pan-roasting on the stove.

Original recipe: Salmon with Sweet & Spicy Rub, Aggie’s Kitchen

salmon quick dinner recipe lentils broccoli food cooking

flickr photo by Sharon Mollerus

Herbed Lentils with Spinach and Tomatoes

You’ll need medium pot and large skillet.

  • 1 cup French lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp diced shallots, leek or onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves (about 3 ounces), or more
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes (about 1/2 pint)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Optional – 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Splash red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Place the lentils in a pot with the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes, until the lentils are tender but still retain their shape. Drain any excess water from the lentils and set them aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook until they are nearly softened, about 2 minutes, more for onions. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, lentils, basil and parsley to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until warmed through, about 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and serve.

Original recipe: Herbed Lentils with Spinach and Tomatoes, Food Network

Broccoli with Red Pepper Flakes and Toasted Garlic

You’ll need a large skillet and lid.

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 6 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Optional – grated Parmesan

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add broccoli, salt, crushed red pepper, basil, thyme and sliced garlic. Sauté 2 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup water. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 2 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender. I used frozen broccoli which still was a bit water-logged after thawing so I didn’t add water and just allowed it to cook a few minutes longer in the pan with the spices and garlic.

If you’d like, sprinkle with Parmesan before serving.

Original recipe: Broccoli with Red Pepper Flakes and Toasted Garlic, Cooking Light, March 2007

salmon recipe quick dinner lentils broccoli food cooking

flickr photo by wanko

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5 thoughts on “Salmon with Sweet and Spicy Rub

  1. Leslie F. says:

    That’s funny – I basically made the exact same thing last night. Only I just used equal portions of Old Bay Seasoning and brown sugar. Yum! Thanks for the lentil recipe, I never ever make lentils. I am not sure why. But this recipe looks easy and fast. Just the thing for a weeknight. Thanks!

    1. deirdrereid says:

      Ooh, thanks for that idea. I love the sweet and spicy/salty combo. I forgot about lentils, as an option. Now that I have a bag of them, I’ll be using them more often. I really like them with salmon and I’m imagining having more leafy greens on the side too. Thanks for popping in, Leslie!

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