I like clean, fresh flavors. I think the food should speak for itself. I don’t think that you need to have a sauce to make a meal, I don’t think everything needs to be cooked in butter (but don’t mistake me, I love butter), and I don’t think there is anything wrong with cooking a meal that’s easy. When I cook, chances are good that I am cooking for two. Chances are also good that my husband is whining like a five-year-old that he’s hungry. Now, before I go giving him an undeserved reputation, I should note that he is perfectly capable of cooking for himself, but most of his cooking is throwing whatever is available into the nearest pan. My cooking isn’t quite that easy, but it is close. One of my favorite go-to meals is pan seared salmon with cous cous. It is simple and effective.
1/2 cup Couscous
3/4 cups Water
1 1/2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
2 teaspoons Salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup each Craisins, Golden Raisins, and Cocktail Peanuts
3 or 4 Cherry Tomatoes
5 leaves Basil
5 leaves Mint
1 tablespoons fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 tablespoon fresh Lime Juice
2 (7 oz) Salmon Filets
1 1/2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon Lime or Lemon Juice
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Bring the water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and the couscous. Stir, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes. While the couscous is absorbing the water, chiffonade the basil and mint (for specific directions on how to chiffonade see my recipe for Tomato Basil Soup), mince the radishes, thinly slice the scallion, and cut the tomatoes into quarters or eighths depending on their size.
Remove the lid from the sauce pan and fluff the couscous with a fork. Move the couscous to a bowl and add the remaining tablespoon of oil, the lemon and lime juice, the craisins, golden raisins, peanuts, tomatoes, scallion, radishes, mint, basil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix together and set aside.
Set a dry, oven-proof saute pan on medium high heat and pull the salmon out. While the pan gets hot, season the skin side of the salmon with an even coating of salt and pepper. Add olive oil to the pan and when the oil begins to shimmer carefully lay the salmon, skin-side down, in the pan away from you (in case it splashes).
Give the pan a little shake to ensure the salmon doesn’t stick. Season the flesh side of the salmon filet while it is exposed. Give the salmon about two minutes and give the pan a little shake again to loosen the salmon. Carefully flip the salmon over using a fish spatula or tongs (again do it away from yourself in case the oil splashes). Put the entire pan in the oven and set the timer for 5 minutes for a medium salmon. Pull the pan out of the oven (don’t forget the handle is hot). Sprinkle the salmon with a little lemon or lime juice.
Plate the salmon on top of a bed of the jumbled couscous and enjoy!
Tips and Tricks:
Pair this dinner with a glass of sauvignon blanc or an off-dry riesling to complement the flavors.
If you aren’t entirely comfortable with the idea of shaking a hot pan filled with salmon filets, use an oven-proof, non-stick skillet.
You can do a skinless salmon filet if you’d rather. Cook it initially on the side opposite of where the skin was. Follow the rest of the directions as listed.
I usually make a double batch of the couscous because it tastes really good cold the next day as well.
If you don’t like salmon, this cooking technique works well for most fish.
This recipe serves 2 people