Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pan-Roasted Salmon

I'm a big fan of salmon, especially the wild Alaskan variety.  It has so much flavor, and the beautiful scarlet hue makes a lovely presentation. 

This is another one of those go-to dishes that I can make in a flash, but it's still impressive enough for guests.  The smokey-sweetness of the sundried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar compliment the hearty salmon well.

4 Salmon fillets, rinsed and patted dry
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine
a jar of sundried tomatoes, packed in olive oil, chopped
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. capers, rinsed

In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, heat some olive oil.  Place the salmon in the pan and sear on one side, then turn over.  Once you've turned the salmon, add the garlic and saute until it starts to color.  Add the wine, then the sundried tomatoes.  Shake the pan, and simmer until the salmon is nearly cooked through, about 10 minutes, adding a little more wine if necessary.  Just before the salmon is done, add the balsamic vinegar and the capers to the residual wine sauce, and simmer about five minutes more, until it turns into a glaze. 

Serve, spooning the remaining sauce and the sundried tomato pieces over each fillet.

Photo credit goes to Harmony Markets

Thursday, September 03, 2009

My Favorite Artusi Recipe

Everyone has one.  At least, everyone in Italy, where the name Pellegrino Artusi is synonomous with home cooking.  If you aren't familiar with this icon of Italian food, read about him in my post, Do The Artusi, on my 'other' blog, 2 Baci in a Pinon Tree.

Yes, everyone has a favorite recipe from Artusi's volume, and mine is maccheroni.  There are lots of great dishes that I regularly prepare, but one of my go-to meals when I want something simple and scrumptuous is the Maccheroni alla Napoletana II.  He offers two Neapolitan sauce recipes, the first one closely resembles my nonna's braciole recipe.  The second is a meatless sauce that takes on a distinctive, almost decadent flavor from the addition of...butter! 

Artusi himself said it is "so good that I suggest you try it."   You won't want to go back to plain-jane red sauce again!

Maccheroni alla Napolitana II - according to Pellegrino Artusi

One of the things about Artusi is that he doesn't give recipes so much as instructions.

Ingredients you'll need:

Maccheroni (any dried pasta shape you prefer, though Artusi states that penne absorb this sauce better than long strands).  I use one pound for four people
olive oil
1 1/2 pounds of peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper
grated Parmigiano

In his words: 
Saute 2 thick slices of onion in 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  The onion will split into rings as it cooks; when it has browned, press it down with a spoon, then remove it and discard it.  Stir the tomatoes into the pan, add a bunch of basil, minced, and season the sauce with salt and pepper.  Simmer it until done, about 1/2 hour, or until it is no longer watery.

Use the sauce, 1/4 cup butter and grated Parmigiano to flavor the maccheroni, which will be especially liked by those who would swim in tomato sauce if they could.

My words:
I generally use canned tomatoes because when I lean on this dish it is usually when I'm pressed for time, and I don't feel like blanching, peeling, seeding and chopping the tomatoes.  When I drain the pasta, I stir in the butter before adding the sauce and cheese; it seems to let it absorb a little more of that buttery goodness.  And finally, I sprinkle on more Parmigiano before serving.

Viva Artusi!

Photo credit: FastaPasta.com