Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Foil-Baked Salmon with Pesto and Tomatoes

I should be working on Ethan's birthday plans (less than 3 weeks to go now!!), but instead I am blogging about this recipe. It is a very tasty one though, so I wanted to make sure I didn't wait too long to share it! :)

We normally enjoy grilling our salmon at home, but now that we are living in the apartment, our beloved grill is in storage, so I have to get creative with some of our usual food prep. I had an old recipe for salmon, baked in the oven, so I dug it out and made a few modifications to improve it. Here is the original recipe.

  • 2 salmon filets, about 6 oz each
  • 2 tsp olive oil (to grease foil)
  • 4 tsp pesto
  • 4-5 medium tomatoes (sliced about 1/4" thick)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a baking sheet in the oven to heat while you prep the salmon. Tear two pieces of foil, big enough to wrap salmon with some overlapping. Place foil pieces one on top of the other. Put about 2 tsp olive oil in center of top piece of foil and lay salmon on top of oil. Spread each piece of salmon with about 2 tsp pesto. Arrange sliced tomatoes over pesto so they cover the top of the salmon. Wrap salmon securely in foil, doubling over the seam and ends several times. Place salmon packet on heated baking sheet and cook 15 minutes. Remove from oven after 15 minutes and let sit 2-3 minutes. Then open carefully and serve immediately, while salmon and tomatoes are hot.

I buy our salmon fresh from the seafood counter and I normally buy around a pound total for Josh and I. So, the filets I had were a bit bigger than the recipe called for originally. I first start any fish dish by soaking the filets in milk for at least 30 minutes before cooking them. This helps to draw out some of the "fishy" tasting oils to give it a better flavor when cooked. This recipe is titled Foil-Baked Salmon with Basil Pesto and Tomatoes, but I wanted to use my favorite homemade pesto, poblano, instead. Below is a pic of it. I have blogged about this pesto in the past, but made a couple changes to it this time. I was very happy with the results.

Here is the recipe again, with my changes in parentheses.

  • 2 poblano peppers (I used 3 large ones)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (I used 3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (I omitted this ingredient)
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (I used 3 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (I toned down the heat and used 1 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/4 cup olive oil)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
Char the poblano peppers (on top of a gas burner, on a grill, or under the broiler) until all of the sides are blackened. Place in a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap, allowing the steam to help loosen the skin. With your fingers or a spoon (I wear gloves in case the peppers are hot, as it irritates my sensitive skin), scrape and discard the blackened skin then remove the seeds and core. Coarsely chop the poblanos, and place into a food processor. Add the Parmesan, cilantro (if you want to use it), garlic, chili powder and oil and process until well combined, but not totally smooth. Taste and season with salt.

I charred the peppers under the broiler this time, and it worked very well. Unfortunately the smoke alarm beeped a couple times at me, but no fires. ;) Oops! I preferred this version of the pesto to the original because the original was a bit oily and by decreasing the oil and increasing the cheese, the balance of the ingredients seemed to be better.

So, I used the poblano pesto to top the salmon filets. I know I used more than 2 tsp for each, but I don't think you can have too much of this pesto, so that's why. ;) The pesto recipe also yields a good-sized portion of pesto, but you can easily freeze it in small packets to thaw and use in the future for other dishes. :) I am planning on using it again tomorrow night to top the NY strip steaks I purchased for our Valentine's Day dinner. It tastes heavenly on steak too!

The salmon recipe calls for a lot of tomatoes, but because my salmon filets were thick, they didn't have a lot of surface area to stack tomatoes on top. So, I placed just one slice of tomato on each filet. I ended up roasting the additional slices of tomato I had, along with some asparagus, to have as a side. I topped the tomatoes with a little grated pecorino romano cheese. They were quite tasty! Back to the salmon...the recipe says to bake for 15 minutes, but after checking them at that time, they weren't cooked quite enough for me, so I added an additional 5 minutes. The filets were still very moist and pink. Delicious! I always serve my salmon over a serving of brown rice and I love oven-roasted or grilled asparagus as a side dish. A healthy, tasty meal for the entire family.

Let me know what you think if you try this one out! :)

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