It’s the New Year and for most of us our New Year’s resolutions are fresh on our minds. Based upon the increased traffic at my gym it seems quite obvious that most locals have made the resolution to get healthy. Ask any personal trainer and they will tell you that it’s all about balance. A good workout routine along with healthy eating will usually produce the results you are looking for.
It’s a challenge to eat well. Healthy recipes usually mean little or no flavor and even for me, a chef, it’s a challenge to find flavor without using calorie-ridden components. Over the next few weeks in my attempt to focus on eating well, I will present to you a few healthy recipes that I absolutely love. These are recipes loaded with flavor and nutrient dense components that take minimal effort and time to produce. This recipe embodies this philosophy.
Chile crusted salmon with roasted pineapple and avocado salsa.
4- 6oz. salmon steaks
1 cup chopped spinach
1 jalapeno, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 green onions, sliced on the bias
1 red bell pepper, small dice
1 pineapple, cored and chopped into small chunks
1 avocado, flesh removed from skin and small dice
1 bunch cilantro
2 limes, juice of
To roast the pineapple chunks, first you must remove the skin of the pineapple. To do this, chop off the top, discard and slice off the bottom of the pineapple. The idea here is to give you a nice and stable pineapple. With the pineapple sitting in a stable position on your cutting board, run your knife from top to bottom along the sides of the pineapple. Discard the skin of the pineapple. Now, you’re dealing with a naked pineapple and from the top view, you should easily see the pit. Run your knife down the pit of the pineapple, which will now yield four edible sections. Chop down the edible portions into small chunks. Transfer the small chunks to a sheet pan and place in a 375-degree oven. When you notice the roasting pineapple turning a nice caramel color, use your tongs and flip the chunks to allow an even amount of caramelization.
Why roast you may ask? Simple. Roasting the pineapple chunks isolates the natural sugars with the heat of the oven thus producing more flavor without adding extra calories.
While the pineapple chunks are roasting, you can begin your knife work on the above components. As you finish each task, transfer the components to a medium sized mixing bowl. When the roasted pineapples have cooled, add them to the mixing bowl and refrigerate for at least a half hour. You can certainly do this a day or two in advance. The salsa will only benefit as the flavors get to know one another.
To cook the salmon. I highly recommend purchasing the salmon the same day you plan to cook it. Remove the salmon from the butcher paper and place on a clean plate. Season the salmon with your choice of chile powder. If you can get pure chile powder, ancho powder, chipotle powder or any chile powder for that matter use it. When I was home in Des Moines for the holidays I received a great gift of pure Aleppo chile powder from a local business called Allspice. Allspice is a spice store that features all sorts of great spices along with infused olive oils and vinegars. It was a tremendous food find! Anyway, Aleppo is a region in Syria, which produces this earthy, slightly sweet flavored red chile. It’s not very spicy but has tremendous flavor, which holds up very well to the salmon.
In the photo, you can see that I grilled the salmon. I know it’s been unseasonably nice out these days so if you feel so inclined to use your grill, have at it! I’m fortunate to have all sorts of high heat devices at my beck and call.
If you want to roast the salmon, place the seasoned steaks on a sheet pan and drizzle with a touch of olive oil. Not too much. We’re trying to minimize calories so don’t go overboard. It’s not necessary due to the inherent fat of the salmon. Roast the salmon in a 375-degree oven to an internal temperature of 155-degrees. If you’ve purchased the salmon from a reputable supplier, chances are you’ve purchased a near sushi grade salmon, which means you can eat it raw without any repercussions. I highly recommend you purchase your salmon from someone who sells a lot of salmon. The more salmon they sell, the less time the salmon sits in their cooler, the fresher the salmon!
To plate. In your finest white platter, place a few spinach leaves on the bottom of the surface. Gently rest your piping hot salmon steak on the pillow of spinach leaves. Next, spoon your chilled salsa artfully over the bottom portion of the salmon steak. Garnish with a few thinly sliced cucumber wedges. The wedges will be a great flavorful, low calorie substitute for tortilla chips.
Making healthy eating decisions doesn’t mean eliminating everything. That’s why I suggest maybe a nice dry white wine. Pinot Grigio perhaps? I think so!