Monday, May 30, 2016

Smoked Salmon, Chick Pea & Haloumi Salad

Once again, we've reached that time of year where meal preparation shifts from cooking to assembling. Fresh ingredients are everywhere and preparing them so one can enjoy their full flavours means leaving them the hell alone.

This salad is all about assembly, but has a lot of ingredients and steps attached. It doesn't take as long as you might think to prepare, but if you're daunted by the number of instructions provided below, you can simplify it pretty quickly. For instance, the chick peas don't need to be toasted. While it certainly enhances their flavour, with so much going on with this salad anyways, one might choose to skip this step.  Another option is to replace the grilled haloumi with fresh feta. You may wind up doing this anyway if haloumi isn't easily obtainable. I made this salad worth my while by doubling up on some of the items for use in other recipes. The chimichurri recipe, for example was used on grilled fish and vegetables later in the week. Had I had extra chick peas, I would have used them in other dishes too.  Regardless of steps, this salad was a delicious affair and perfect with a cold summer soup and crust of French bread.


Serves 4-6


Toasted Chick Peas
  • 1 400g can of chick peas 
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t salt
Tahini Dressing
  • 2 T greek yoghurt
  • 1 T tahini
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T water
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/4 mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro
  • 1 t chili flakes
  • 2 t red wine vinegar
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 250g smoked salmon
  • 250g haloumi sliced in 1 cm slices
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 4-5 large eggs
  • 1 cup pea shoots
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 bunch kale, rinsed and chopped

Chick Peas

Drain, rinse and dry the chick peas. Heat the olive oil in a pan, on medium heat. Add the chick peas and toss in the paprika and salt, ensuring the seasoning covers all the chicks peas. Continue to toss the chick peas occasionally in the pan. Once the peas have browned, remove them from the pan and let sit on a paper towel-lined plate.

Tahini Dressing

Whisk all the ingredients together until blended. Set aside.


Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree. Pour the mixture into a carafe and set aside.


Prepare the haloumi by heating a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Place the slices in the pan for about 1 minute each side or until browned. Set them on a paper towel-lined plate.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the kale to the water for 30 seconds. Pour the contents of the pot through a strainer. Set the kale aside.

Soft boil the eggs by bringing a small pot of water to a boil. Add the eggs and boil for 6 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool immediately by running them under cold water. Peel eggs and set aside.

Assemble the salad by placing all the dry ingredients in a large and preferably shallow bowl. If serving the entire salad immediately, dress it with both the chimichurri and tahini dressing. If not, dress each serving individually.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Dill Salmon with Creme Fraiche and Beluga Lentils

Ruedi and I have made this dish a handful of times now for ourselves and guests. It's dead easy, but presents as a sophisticated work of art and is so, so tasty. Beluga lentils also wind up being a neat alternative to rice or potatoes and since these lentils don't get mushy like their green or yellow brothers, their texture is a good balance for that of the salmon.

Beluga lentils are called such because they look like beluga caviar when cooked. As with other lentils, they offer folate, fiber and a good dose of protein. A half cup of cooked beluga lentils contains about 12 grams. These particular lentils, however,  also have anthocyanins, the same antioxidants in blueberries and blackberries have that help to prevent cell wall damage which can lead to cancer and heart disease. I typically pick these up at Bulk Barn. If you can't find them, try using French lentils instead which are more readily available.


Serves 4

For the salmon and sauce
  • 4 salmon fillets (I had one large piece)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil (if searing/baking salmon as per Option B)
  • 2 T shallot, minced
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 t dijon mustard
  • 6 T creme fraiche
  • 3 t dill, minced
  • 2 t fresh lemon juice

For the lentils
  • 1 cup beluga lentils
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 shallot quartered
  • 3 peeled, whole garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 heaping handful arugula/spinach

Option A: Barbecue instructions for the salmon
Preheat your barbecue to medium-high heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and wrap each of the fillets in tin foil. Place the fillets on the bottom rack for 12 minutes. Remove from heat, unwrap and check the thickest part of the salmon to ensure it is cooked through. If not, wrap up the salmon and return it to the barbecue for a few minutes.

Option B: Oven instructions for the salmon
Preheat oven to 350F. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a skillet to medium heat and add about two tablespoons of oil to the pan. Sear the salmon for two minutes on both sides. Place skillet in the oven and cook salmon for about 5-7 minutes until done to your liking.

The sauce
Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and season with salt and pepper. Stir for a few minutes until the shallots soften. Turn down the heat to avoid burning the butter. Whisk in the dijon and then follow with the creme fraiche until smooth. Add the lemon juice and dill and a little more salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately with the lentils and salmon.

Beluga Lentils
On medium heat add the butter and olive oil in a saucepan. Once melted, add the lentils, tossing well to coat with the butter and oil. Add the chicken stock, garlic, shallot, salt and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then turn heat to low. Cook covered for about 35 minutes or until lentils are tender. Once fully cooked, drain the excess liquid and add a tablespoon of vinegar to the lentils, mixing well. Remove the garlic, shallot and bay leaf. Add a handful of fresh arugula/spinach and serve.