April 2, 2011

The Salmon That Saved Dinner

The hours between 4 and 6 pm are the most challenging in this house.  It's around this time I start dinner (for Heath and me, with the hope that Devi will eat what we're eating); both kids need food--sometimes at the same time--and if the baby's already nursed, then it's time for "solid" foods, which, of course, he can't feed himself.  So here's the big picture: Dev's at the little table with her snack, I've got one hand on a tiny spoon in Sol's tiny mouth, and there's something going on or in the stove--or there isn't, and I'm getting anxious.  I'll want to set our table (Dev usually helps by throwing strewing some napkins across the dining room table), because the minute Heath comes home, I'm shooing him upstairs to change his clothes, come down, and eat.  The goal is to get all four of us eating at the same time in the same place.

Enter farm-raised, organic salmon from Ireland.  A pricey treat, but what it saves me in prep time is well worth it (just not every week).  We first tried this fish because Wegmans introduced it to their customers with an informational card and a coupon, and Bernie, that sweet, elderly man at the fish counter in the Pittsford store, is too earnest a fishmonger to deny.  When he told me that the salmon was "too unbelievable to be believed" (yes, that is a direct quote), I had to take him up on it.  Sure enough, Heath asked me to bring it home again for last night's dinner.

[It's worth noting here that Wegmans has gone out of its way to make sure we understand how special these fish are: they're fed only sustainable, natural, and organic matter, aren't crowded in their cages, and are never treated with antibiotics or hormones.  Because they're farmed, they're a sustainable food source, too.  The only thing the informational card didn't say about these fish was that they probably call their mothers every night and give alms to the poor.]

When I build a dinner around fish or chicken, which are not usually the most vibrant or exciting of entrees, I'm looking for grains/legumes/veg that will complete the plate with a variety of colors and flavors.   So with fish in cart, I traipsed over to the produce section to see what there was to see, and found these beauties, called Graffiti eggplants.  I also noticed those sirens of the onion world, the Cippolinis, begging me to take them home.  And not far from those, a package of baby portabella mushrooms (a great source of vitamin D, apparently), so in those went as well.  I wound up just sauteing the mushrooms and onions together with some balsamic vinegar and white wine.  (I also grabbed a red pepper, but that never made it to the table, because I ran out of chopping time).

I got a bunch of small, red bliss potatoes; easily boiled, easily dressed (I roasted a couple of cloves of garlic on the same sheet as the eggplant and minced them over the potatoes with some olive oil).  The olives complemented the salmon nicely, too.  You'll note there's no picture of the salmon once it came out of the oven (a little soy sauce and garlic), because the chaos of the moment took over and we were trying to get everything on the table before my daughter could convince herself that she'd rather not sit down.  But man, that fish is so fresh, I want to give Bernie a kiss for talking me into it.

Here's ultimately what the sides looked like when we sat down:

The moral of my post is this: if you've got a good entree to begin with, I guess the rest comes easy.  I had NO PLAN for this dinner, but followed my gut and just wanted stuff that would go well with salmon and white wine.  So go see Bernie.  He'll set you up.  And tell him I sent you.

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