This was quite possibly the best salmon I’ve ever made -and it takes a lot for me to say that something is the best. Too bad it’s far from one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken, so hopefully you’ll take my word(s) for it.
This dinner was the first inspired by the goodies I picked up in Burlington, Vt this weekend. We made the trip to attend an Outstanding in the Field
farm dinner hosted at Half Pint Farm
. Foodies, take note – if you ever have the opportunity to go to an Outstanding event, don’t dare pass up on this unique experience. These guys travel the country and pair up with local farms and chefs in each locale to put together a meal highlighting the seasonal, local meat and produce. It can truly be considered a foodie adventure, since you’ll have no idea what the meal you’re paying for is until you sit down at the table. Some may consider $200 a steep amount for a dinner you don’t even get to choose – but then again, this is about joining with other foodies from around the country and sharing an appreciation for the whole field-to-table process. It’s a beautiful thing, well worth it.
Anyway, I digress. The next morning we visited the Burlington farmers’ market, excited to find Mara and Spencer, the owners of Half Pint Farm who had graciously hosted our dinner. As you might guess by the name, they are a small farm specializing in baby vegetables, and heirloom varieties that you won’t find elsewhere (well, maybe you will find them, but I certainly won’t – the emphasis on local food and appreciation for the art of growing unique produce is lacking here in Massachusetts.) Our eyes were probably a bit bigger than our minds in deciding what we could easily eat in a household of two, as we filled our (reusable, of course) bag with colorful hot peppers, purple carrots, baby artichokes, miniature zucchini and summer squash, and swirly purple and white eggplant. I spent the better part of the four hour drive home planning how to use it all up!
The baby artichokes were first on my list. Did you know that baby artichokes are not a different variety than the larger globe artichokes? It turns out that they are just smaller, mature artichokes picked sooner. The very best thing about baby artichokes is that they are missing that fuzzy, inedible choke that can be a pain to work around when preparing larger artichokes. You can simply pull off all of the tough outer leaves until you’re left with the delicate light green ones on the inside, steam or boil the artichokes, and enjoy! Of course it’s a good idea to take some extra steps like seasoning and sauteing in some olive oil with a touch of lemon juice, or throwing them on the grill. But after that, you will be able to enjoy the whole thing.
I had planned on grilling my artichokes (after tossing them in olive oil and lemon juice, salt, pepper, and minced fresh basil), but it was a game-time decision to throw them on a smokey cedar plank along with the salmon I already had going. What could be wrong with cedar planked artichokes? Nothing, really. They turned out delicious! So good that I may just have to learn to grow them myself, since I can pretty much rely on my grocery stores not to carry these more than one week per year.
Are you still wondering about the salmon? Well, that was also inspired by a Burlington purchase – fresh Vermont goat cheese. I had some wild Alaskan sockeye salmon in the freezer, and I decided to cook it on a cedar plank with an herbed goat cheese and pine nut crust. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how the topping would turn out when cooking the fish on a cedar plank. But as I already told you – this was possibly the best salmon I’ve ever made. Earthy, sweet, smokey, and even a little spicy, the flavors blended together beautifully. I seriously didn’t want it to end – that is, the experience of eating this. All I know is, next time my husband tries to tell me not to spend the extra money on Wild Alaskan sockeye, I can simply remind him of this dish.Herbed Goat Cheese and Pine Nut Crusted Cedar Plank Salmon
Per serving, you’ll need:
a filet of wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, about 5 oz
salt, pepper, and smoked paprika
1/2 oz fresh, soft goat cheese
1/4 oz pine nuts
minced fresh rosemary
Soak a cedar plank overnight. When you’re getting ready to cook, place it on the grill over indirect medium heat and let it get smokey.
Meanwhile, season the salmon with salt, pepper, and paprika. Toast the pine nuts and chop them roughly. Mix together the goat cheese with the rosemary and salmon, and shmear it on the salmon.
Place the filets, skin side down, on the plank. If you’re feeling experimental with your chosen veggies, throw them on there too. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the fish is opaque in the center and the topping is browned.
I’m going to skip the usual full nutritional information, but if stick to the the weights of protein and fats I did, this is just under 280 calories.