Eric Akis: Lighten up after Thanksgiving

Eric Akis

If you overloaded on turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings on Thanksgiving, you’ll be glad to know I’ve lightened things up for today’s Sunday dinner recipe.

Although this meal is lighter — in another words, not drenched in rich gravy — I can assure you it will be flavourful, thanks to the range of palate-awakening ingredients.

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To make this dinner for two, salmon fillets — a good source of protein, vitamin A, B-group vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and essential minerals — were set in a baking pan and brushed with a citrus and spice mixture. When the salmon was roasted, that mixture warmly infused the fish with the taste of such things as orange and lemon, cumin and coriander. It also further enhanced the salmon’s already eye-appealing, orangey-red hue.

While the salmon roasted, I prepared an easy-to-make cannellini bean stew to serve with it. I used canned cannellini beans, also called white kidney beans, which are sold at just about every supermarket.

Like salmon, those beans are a good source of protein and essential minerals, and also contain fibre and folate.

To make the beans, I simmered them on the stovetop in stock with chopped onions, kale, cherry tomatoes, rosemary and garlic.

When ready to serve, the cannellini bean stew is divided between two shallows bowls. A piece of the roasted salmon fillet is then set in each bowl. Now, if desired, you can set a dollop of thick yogurt in each bowl — the tangy taste will complement the flavour of the fish and the bean stew.

Citrus and Spice Roasted Salmon on Cannellini Bean Stew

Quick-to-roast fish and an easy-to-make stew combine in this hearty fall dinner that serves two. You could serve it with sliced baguette.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 minutes

Makes: two servings

For the salmon

2 tsp olive oil

1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest

2 tsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp finely grated orange zest

2 tsp orange juice

1 tsp brown sugar

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground coriander seed

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

• pinch ground cayenne pepper

2 (5 to 6 oz./140 to 170 g) salmon fillets (see Eric’s options)

• salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the stew

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1 large, or 2 medium, green kale leaves, trimmed of tough middle rib and stem, leafy part fairly finely chopped

1 medium or large garlic clove, minced

6 cherry tomatoes, cut into small cubes

1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary, plus two sprigs for garnish (see Eric’s options)

• pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

1 (14 oz./398 mL) can cannellini beans (also called white kidney beans), drained well, rinsed, and drained well again

1 1/4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• thick yogurt, to taste (optional)

Combine the oil, zests, juices, brown sugar, cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne needed for the salmon in a small bowl. Line a shallow baking pan with parchment paper. Set the salmon fillets in the pan, skin-side down. Spoon the oil, juice and spice mixture over the salmon, and then season with salt and black pepper. Set the salmon aside for now.

Preheat your oven, or a toaster oven, to 375 F. Heat the 1 Tbsp olive oil for the stew in a pot set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, kale, cherry tomatoes, garlic, chopped rosemary and pepper flakes, if using, and cook until tender, about four to five minutes.

Add the beans and stock to the pot and bring to a simmer. As the beans are coming to a simmer, set the salmon in the oven and bake 10 minutes. Now spoon pan juices over top the salmon and cook three to five minutes more, or until cooked through.

When the beans are simmering, cook them for 10 minutes, or until nicely flavoured by the other ingredients.

To serve, divide bean stew between two shallow serving bowls. Set a piece of salmon on top of the beans in each bowl. Garnish each bowl with a rosemary sprig. Set dollop of yogurt beside the salmon in each bowl, if using, and then serve.

Eric’s options: Instead of salmon, you could try another type of fish fillet in this recipe, such as halibut or cod. Instead of rosemary, try another type of chopped fresh herb, such as thyme.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks, including seven in his Everyone Can Cook series. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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