A Welcome By Dor
One of our first facilitators was a near vegetarian whose body periodically required some fish for her mental, physical and emotional stability. When good fats and protein are what your body needs, nothing else will do.
Although Casey’s imaginary world revolved around the croissants she could pick up in town, her ability to hear her body’s message broke through
. She marched herself a few storefronts down to get the much-needed but less-desired salmon for breakfast.
The first principle of Suppers is to actively practice non-judgment. And it starts with oneself.
Each of us starts with highly individual, non-negotiable needs that have to be met. If you’re a determined carnivore who sniffs at a green smoothie for breakfast or a dedicated but depressed vegetarian or a patient who follows orders even when you don’t feel well, you can learn something from Casey: You have an innate wisdom that is trying to speak to you, if you would just sit for a few minutes and allow the message to come in.
Casey’s Story – Salmon For Breakfast
A few weeks ago I was on my way to the facilitators’ training for Suppers and I left the house without having a substantial breakfast. I had grabbed a handful of sunflower seeds, which satisfied my appetite almost until the end of my driveway.
The drive is about 25 minutes, so you can imagine that by the time I reached town I was focused not on the meeting but on food – eating – now! I made a beeline for the bakery. I could smell the fresh-baked bread before I got out of the car. I actually sat there for a few moments while thoughts of warm buttery croissants took over my brain. I thought about how many I would order. One for now, one for the car ride home, and maybe just one in case.
But something happened at that moment, as I played out the whole scene in my head. I wondered if this was such a good idea.
I allowed myself to mentally go into the shop, purchase the croissants, come back to the car and eat one of them. I took a moment to think about how I have felt in the past after doing this exact thing. I remember feeling like having another immediately and spending the rest of the day in a coffee-and-junk-food-consuming downward spiral. Not to mention the brain fog and fatigue. What could I do?
I thought of the Suppers Breakfast Challenge and discussions we have had at meetings about avoiding the trap of automatic choices and the importance for most people of consuming a high-quality protein in the morning. I am one of those people.
I have become familiar with my personal biochemistry over the years through proactive nutrition education, and I now know that omega 3 fats work well for me. So I did something I have never done before: I ate salmon for breakfast. That’s right. I marched myself down the street and bought a piece of pre-cooked salmon from the deli and marched right back to my car and sat there and ate it up. Within ten minutes (no joke, ten minutes), I started to feel focused, energized, happy, satiated, and altogether good about my decision.
I had no trouble driving away without a bag of croissants. Perhaps I showed up at my meeting smelling like fish, but it was worth it. I told this story at the meeting because I was covering the concept of automatic choices, “the choices you make when you aren’t consciously participating.”
For me the most important words in the description were “consciously working on change,” “support,” and “time.” Consciously working on change is an ongoing process. It’s what I was doing in the car that day. Support has been the key.
I have studied Nutrition and for years have known what I needed to do to change my life, but without support I was not able to act on that information. Suppers has supported my change process without any pressure about which changes to make or how fast to make them. As for time, I told the group that three years ago I would not have paused for a second before buying those croissants. That day in my car, I may have taken 15 minutes to make a good decision. I was able to slowly work through it and come out on top (that day). My hope for myself and us all is that a couple of years from now, I (we) will be making healthier choices without a second’s pause.
Stuff You Put On Stuff For Casey, By Allie
A Chef is a cook with a mind full of tricks. Some chefs are super, super good with their trickery but the magic is based mostly in logic, mildly in chemistry, and includes the freedom of creativity. I say these things not to expose folks in the industry (you guys, I’m in the industry, I’m an industry person you guys) but to empower YOU.
Here’s a very common trick, for instance: If you want stuff to taste good, put good tasting stuff on your stuff!
In other words, it’s all about the toppings. I don’t want to trigger anybody here but think about a wedding where they have one of those mashed potato bars. It’s like a martini glass with some mashed taters in there and then bowls of good tasting stuff to put on the tater stuff. I think the thought process there is: potatoes are good but they’re WAY better loaded up with all sorts of horridly delicious ingredients.
Let’s apply that to you, Casey, me, and this moment. First of all I have, like, zero issues with eating salmon for breakfast. My breakfast is most often the leftover dinner from the night before. So if I’m making healthy breakfast choices then I am probably eating pretty “weird” things for breakfast, most often in front of my sister – who stares, horrified by my process – but that’s what works for me. Humongous salads, salmon, cold chicken, hard boiled eggs, sauerkraut, pestos – that’s what I am looking for in the morning. Plus coffee.
My advocacy for leftovers-for-beginnings is that any protein that was prepared in my home kitchen was also already sauced or topped off so it’s ready to eat but not chemically processed.
The point here is to focus on making health-supportive toppings to place on
you-supportive ingredients – that is, to say, ingredients that keep you grounded, centered, and present.
SO. If you are a person who is heading down your path towards vibrant health and your vehicle of choice is salmon, let’s chat.
Good Tasting Stuff Choices For Salmon
Sweet, Sweet Fruit
- Cooking fruits down in acidic juice (like lemon or orange) with ginger root, turmeric root, and/or a dash of honey adds a sweet tang to your steamy fish.
Salmon-friendly cooked fruits: plums, apricots, apples, tomatoes, dates, citrus fruits like orange, lemon, and grapefruit, tamarind (use the paste)
- Chopping fresh fruits for a raw preparation is also a lovely direction, especially as we move towards warmer months. Toss with some lime juice and spices, you’re golden.
Salmon-friendly raw prepped fruits: mango, all melons, pineapple, stonefruits
Get Yo Veggie On
It might help you to know that the season of salmon is spring and early autumn – however it is available year round in our magical land of abundance – so pair your salmon with seasonal veggies from the farmers market. The possibilities range a lot more here.
- Arugula, Spring Greens, Stored Cabbage, Celeriac, Mint, Peas, Sugar Peas, Spinach, Asparagus, Garlic Chives, Radishes, Morel Mushrooms, Ramps (these are foraged locally in New Jersey but so far no forager I know has ever taken me with them foraging hint hint wink wink hint hint hint. Also Fiddleheads.
- The farmers markets usually open around April the earliest. Find your way there to find out what’s actually in season for your zone.
- Bell Peppers, Tomatoes (I know, tomato is a fruit), Cucumbers (raw or pickled, also a fruit FYI), BASIL and other herbs, Sunchokes, Summer Greens, Shiso, Mushrooms, Scallions, Asian Eggplants, Corn, Golden Beets
- Go to your farmers market and start experimenting. There are hundreds of summer pairings – including especially fruit, which is best eaten in its ephemeral season.
- Eggplant, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Peppers, Carrots, Celery, Onion, Leeks, Thyme, Potatoes, Flat-leaf Parsley, Spaghetti Squash
- Go to your farmers market, honey.
- Chestnuts, Marjoram, Winter Savory, Potatoes, Celeriac, Cabbage, All Types of Beets, Kale, Flat-leaf Parsley, Winter Squash, Swiss Chard
- Don’t forget about your Farmers Market (yup, the markets continue on through at least December if not into January)
Since so many herbs pair so particularly well with the full, rounded, oily fish flavor of Salmon, we need to start thinking about herb based, nut based sauces like, ahem, PESTO.
You are not limited to basil. Try spinach, arugula, kale, parsley, cilantro, or anything that looks green and is a leaf and then pick a nut and add GLOS (Garlic, Lemon, Oil, Salt).
Some combos include:
* Basil + Walnuts + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt
Basil + Thyme + Oregano + Almonds + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt
Spinach + Oregano + Rosemary + Almonds + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt
* Cilantro + Pistachio + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt
Flat-Leaf Parsley + Pine Nuts + Almonds + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt
* means it’s one of my favorite go-to’s
You can find the recipe in two places: on the Suppers website or here on an older Blogpost
Don’t lean on cashew cream too much, it’s so rich that it might be too heavy in the mouth and on the palate – try to break it up with another bright sauce.
Some combos include:
Cooked Apricot + Onion + Cayenne + Lemon + Honey + Dollop Cashew Cream
Raw Asparagus + Lemon + Scallion + Garlic + Tamari + Dollop Cashew Cream
Raw Cucumber + Dill + Shredded Carrot + Scallion + Dollop Cashew Cream
Are you getting the direction I’m going in terms of flavor? Here’s the main point: BRIGHT TASTING STUFF balances RICH TASTING / FEELING STUFF.
Bomb The Stuff With Flavor
Using a bunch of strong stuff in a small portion, thereby bombing your dish with flavor, is the secret weapon for Chefs and for Suppers alike. It’s like an atomic food bomb. These dishes are made of strong tasting stuff, like herbs or roots, citrus, and alliums, and they have an atomic-like effect on otherwise mild or plain foods. They’re great for soups, stews, casseroles and, of course, toppings.
A pesto is one example of an atomic food bomb. Another atomic food bomb I would like to address with you is Caramelized Onions. The process of caramelization extracts natural sugars from foods, and then gently, deliberately, burning those sugars. So, in the case of an ingredient like an onion, it is possible to make onion jam which tastes as sweet as a ball of date paste. Also, a ball of date paste almost qualifies as one but I think technically you’re supposed to have more than just one ingredient.
In closing, Caramelized Onions are like THE BEST THING to have on hand in your kitchen. They are a make ahead! Make one large batch and then keep in a tupperware in your freezer!!!! Now I think that we’ve finally exhausted this “stuff that tastes good on salmon” subject, let’s actually cook something already. Amirite?!
Now We Cook
Step One: Choose your topping(s). I choose, based on things I see in my refrigerator:
Caramelized Onions + Asparagus + Lemon + Garlic + Cashew Cream + Micro Greens
Step Two: If you already have caramelized onions, skip to Step 5. If not, keep reading.
How To Caramelize Onions
Start with a large bowl of onions and three hours of being at home. Just at home, not necessarily in the kitchen.
Slice about 10-12 cups of onions into thin half-moons. The half moon slice on this is important as it slices against the grain and allows for more breakdown. If you slice the onion with the grain it doesn’t fall apart as well. Just FYI.
Step Three: Over low heat, melt a bunch of coconut oil in a pan with a tight fitting lid. Add all of the onions at once and a healthy dash of salt (at least 1 full teaspoon) and turn the onions gently with a pair of tongs to coat with oil.
Place lid firmly on pan, set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes, and walk away. Seriously. Go read a chapter of your book or work on your blog 😉 or watch an episode of Mozart In The Jungle or, I don’t know, have a dance party or something. Go relax.
Step Four: Upon your return you will be amazed by how much liquid has been created. Give the onions a good stir with a wooden spoon to prevent anything sticking to the bottom of your pan. Then replace the lid and reset your timer. That’s literally all you do, on repeat, for about 2 1/2 hours or until the onions are brown enough for you. Here’s your list:
1. Return when timer beeps
2. Remove lid
3. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking
4. Replace lid
5. Set a timer for 20 minutes
6. Go away
Step Five: Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place prepped salmon filet on parchment and set aside.
Chop everything else you are using and toss together with lemon juice. Make a layered crust on salmon starting with a nice spread of caramelized onions, then chopped asparagus “salad”. Roast salmon at 400 degrees for 12 – 15 minutes, check for doneness and maybe add a few minutes depending on the size of your filet.
Step Six: Plate roasted salmon and top with a nice dollop of cashew cream and a sprinkle of lemon juice. Add micro greens to look fancy if you want. Enjoy.
Onion Crusted Salmon With Asparagus
1 lb. salmon filet, de-boned and skinned
1 cup caramelized onions, pre-prepared
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into small pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced and smashed into a paste
1 lemon, zested and juiced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, basil, or other herbs, minced (*optional)
1/2 cup cashew cream, pre-prepared
1/4 cup micro greens (*optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place prepared salmon filet on parchment lined sheet and slather caramelized onions over filet, making sure to spread evenly to each part of salmon. Use more caramelized onions if you like.
2. Prepare asparagus by tossing together chopped asparagus, smashed garlic, lemon zest, juice, sea salt, and black pepper. Spoon salad on top of onion crusted salmon filet. Roast at 400 for 12-15 minutes. Check for doneness in the middle and add time if necessary.
3. Remove and sprinkle with fresh herbs and a wedge of lemon if desired. Slice into large servings and add dollops of cashew cream and a small pinch of micro greens to each. Enjoy immediately or store for future meals!
FYI: If you are cooking for one, use:
2 Tablespoons caramleized onions
4 stalks asparagus, chopped into small pieces
1 large clove garlic, minced and smashed into a paste
1/4 lemon, zested and juiced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh herbs, minced (*optional)
2 Tablespoons cashew cream, pre-prepared
2 Tablespoons micro greens (*optional)
As always, always, look to Suppers for all of your salmon related recipe needs! And remember, we are here to support you. Join us at our Suppers table and find the support that you need to address food driven health challenges and achieve vibrant health!