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Thirty Minute Meals: Salmon + Orzo

Ever since I moved away to college I developed a passion for cooking and baking. It started off by just watching the food network and trying to recreate some of the dishes I saw, and eventually turned into me coming up with recipes on my own. I would create ridiculously elaborate meals and invite friends over for dinner parties.

After college I moved back home for my first two years of medical school. During that time my cooking pretty much came to a halt (yes, I was living at home again and spoiled by mom’s cooking). I eventually moved out and started cooking again, only now I had to find much simpler meals that also tasted great.

That brings me to this recipe. It’s super simple to make, considerably healthy, takes about 30 minutes to cook everything, and comes out tasting absolutely delicious. It’s a perfect quick dinner for two at the end of a long work day (or for one with leftovers the following day).

I am actually going to discuss the full recipe for two different things – my favorite salmon, and my favorite orzo. I usually pair this dish with a steamed vegetable (broccoli or asparagus), with just a touch of salt and pepper (or everything but the bagel seasoning if you’re feeling adventurous).

For the Salmon, I usually get two 8 oz pieces of Atlantic Salmon from Whole Foods with the skin on (I know wild caught is better for you but my budget will usually only allow for the farm raised version). The marinade I use is Stonewall Kitchen’s Sesame Ginger Teriyaki.

If you watched my Instagram story recently you would already know how obsessed I am with this marinade. I usually buy it at The Fresh Market, but they’ve been sold out recently so I’ve been ordering it online. Trust me when I say this is the best and only marinade you will ever need for Salmon, ever again.

To marinate the salmon, I use a fork to poke holes in the top of the fish (the more holes the better). I find that this allows for better absorption of the marinade to give it more flavor. I then put the two salmon filets in a small zip lock bag with about half of the bottle of marinade. Ideally you want this to sit for 30-45 minutes.

Just before I am ready to cook the Salmon, I start making the Orzo. You’re going to melt 1 tbsp of ghee (or other butter) over medium heat in a pan or sauce pot with a lid. Once the ghee is melted, mix in 1 cup of orzo. Make sure you mix it thoroughly so that all of the orzo is coated and allow it to cook for about 5 min. Continue mixing the orzo every 20 seconds or so, so that none of the pieces burn. Your goal is to brown the pieces slightly and as evenly as possible.

Next, you’re going to pour in 14 oz of chicken stock. I personally use low sodium broth and just add a small amount of salt to taste later on, to avoid exceeding my sodium limit for the day. You can also use vegetable broth if you are vegan or vegetarian. Once the broth is added, reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid. Set your timer for 18-20 minutes.

Now that the orzo is doing its thing, we can turn our attention back to the Salmon. Set your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and take out a medium size (preferably non-stick) pan. Heat the pan over low-medium heat, and melt another tbsp of ghee in the pan. Again, you can use regular butter however I personally use ghee because it’s better for cooking at higher temperatures.

Next, remove the salmon from the zip lock bag and place it face down on the pan. You may want to use tongs to do this so that if any of the ghee or marinade splash up (which it frequently does), it will not burn your hand. DO NOT throw away the contents of the zip lock bag. Cook the salmon face down for about 5 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally to make sure the salmon is not sticking to the bottom.

Once 5 minutes have passed, empty the remainder of the marinade from the zip lock bag into the pan with the salmon. Place the whole thing in the oven. That’s right, the whole thing; I promise your pan won’t disintegrate. Leave it in there for about 10 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked to your desired doneness.

You can now throw your veggies in a pan with a vegetable steamer basket and lid and cook on high for 3-5 minutes.

At this point, your orzo should be almost done. Check it to make sure all of the water is absorbed. If not, give it a few more minutes, and if it is, mix in your basil, ¼ cup of white cooking wine, and ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to your desired taste and mix well.

The salmon, orzo, and veggies should all (theoretically) be done. Plate as desired and sprinkle some sesame seeds on your salmon to give it a little extra crunch. Season your vegetables, and sprinkle some more parmesan on top of your orzo. Voila – an amazing meal in 30-ish minutes. Enjoy!

XoXo
-Erica

Salmon + Orzo Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

This is my go to recipe for several reasons; it's super simple to make, considerably healthy, takes about 30 minutes to cook everything, and comes out tasting absolutely delicious. It's a perfect quick dinner for two at the end of a long work day (or for one with leftovers the following day).

Servings: 2 people
Ingredients
  • 2 8 oz Salmon Filets Atlantic Salmon
  • 1 1/2 Bottle Stonewall Kitchen Sesame Ginger Teriyaki Sauce
  • 1 cup Orzo Whole Wheat
  • 2 tbsp Ghee or Butter
  • 14 oz Chicken Broth Low Sodium, or Veggie Broth
  • 3 tbsp Fresh Basil Chopped
  • 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup White Cooking Wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. To marinate the salmon, use a fork to poke holes in the top of the fish (the more holes the better). This allows for better absorption of the marinade to give it more flavor. Put the two salmon filets in a small zip lock bag with about half of the bottle of marinade. Ideally you want this to sit for 30-45 minutes.

  2. Just before you are ready to cook the Salmon, start making the Orzo. Melt 1 tbsp of ghee (or other butter) over medium heat in a pan or sauce pot with a lid. Once the ghee is melted, mix in 1 cup of orzo. Make sure you mix it thoroughly so that all of the orzo is coated and allow it to cook for about 5 min. Continue mixing the orzo every 20 seconds or so, so that none of the pieces burn. Your goal is to brown the pieces slightly and as evenly as possible.

  3. Pour in 14 oz of chicken stock. I personally use low sodium broth and just add a small amount of salt to taste later on, to avoid exceeding sodium intake. You can also use vegetable broth if you are vegan or vegetarian. Once the broth is added, reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid. Set your timer for 18-20 minutes.

  4. Set oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat a medium size (non-stick) pan over low-med heat, and melt another tbsp of ghee in the pan. Remove the salmon from the zip lock bag and place it face down on the pan. Use tongs to do this so if any of the ghee or marinade splash up, it will not burn your hand. Cook the salmon face down for about 5 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally to make sure the salmon is not sticking to the bottom.

  5. Once 5 minutes have passed, empty the remainder of the marinade from the zip lock bag into the pan with the salmon. Place the whole thing in the oven. That’s right, the whole thing; I promise your pan won’t disintegrate. Leave it in there for about 10 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked to your desired doneness.

  6. You can now throw your veggies in a pan with a vegetable steamer basket and lid and cook on high for 3-5 minutes.

  7. At this point, your orzo should be almost done. Check it to make sure all of the water is absorbed. If not, give it a few more minutes, and if it is, mix in your basil, ¼ cup of white cooking wine, and ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to your desired taste and mix well.

  8. The salmon, orzo, and veggies should all (theoretically) be done. Plate as desired and sprinkle some sesame seeds on your salmon to give it a little extra crunch. Season your vegetables, and sprinkle some more parmesan on top of your orzo. Voila – an amazing meal in 30-ish minutes. Enjoy!

Food In the Neighborhood

Fort Lauderdale Foodie

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I love to travel, and that I am constantly planning trips to look forward to. On these vacations, my days usually revolve around one thing, food. This time, instead of telling you all the places I’ve been on my trips, I figured I’d take the time to tell you about some of my favorite spots where I live, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

I’m obviously biased, but I am pretty sure it’s one of the coolest cities in the country. It has plenty of fun things to do, but still has small city / beach town vibes, and isn’t super congested. It’s also in between Miami, and West Palm Beach, and with the new Brightline Train it’s extremely easy to get to either.

This post is going to be mostly food related in an attempt to keep it somewhat short (I like food, a lot), but I’ll let you know about all the other fun things we have to do here in a separate article. I hope this list gives you a little insight into what great spots there are, and helps you out if you’re ever in the area!

Coffee Shops:

There are so many coffee shops in Fort Lauderdale that it’s really difficult to pick just a few. I’m going to include the three that I visit the most, and think are places you really should’t miss if you’re in the area, but if you’re ever here for an extended period of time and want to know of some others, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Brew Urban Cafe – Photo by Tamara Cardona @Tammyrc

  • Brew Urban Cafe is my favorite coffee shop in Fort Lauderdale. It’s right in the heart of FAT village (Flagler Arts and Technology) in Fort Lauderdale. Books line the back wall with a massive chandelier in the center to make you feel like you’re in a vintage library. The outside walls are covered in art murals, and if you’re there at the right time you can even catch a glimpse of the train going by out back.  If you get hungry, Henry’s Sandwich Station is right next door.
  • The Alchemist is in a really fun area of Fort Lauderdale, with multiple different restaurants, art vendors, and rainbow roads. They make (hands down) the best iced coffee you will ever have – that’s a promise. There is limited indoor seating so I try to go here when it’s a little nicer out, but that doesn’t really stop me from going year round. They also serve a variety of food items which are all  really good as well (I particularly recommend any of the slicers). They also just recently opened a second location in Aventura.

Ann’s Florist and Coffee Bar – Photo by Tamara Cardona @Tammyrc

  • Ann’s Florist and Coffee Bar is an adorable little flower shop off of Las Olas that also serves coffee and snacks. It’s fun to hang out here and study while people watching, or to listen to the live music they sometimes have playing. They also have an adorable flower wall if you need a cool backdrop for photos.
  • One of my favorite spots to study and have a coffee is Warsaw Coffee Company. How many coffee shops do you know that you can grab a beer at when you’re done studying? It’s also attached to Milk Money Bar and Kitchen, so if you need a bite to eat, they have that covered too. The coffee is great, the people are nice, and the food is on point.

Brunch Spots:

Picking the right brunch spot really depends on what kind of brunch you’re looking for – so I’m going to include one of each… (side note: these playes are also amazing for dinner – esp. Louie Bossi, and Blue Moon Fish Co.)

Louie Bossi – Photo by @LouieBossi

  • Best Bottomless – Sometimes, your crazy friends are in town that want to party and get the best bang for their buck. That is going to be either at Louie Bossi ($13 unlimited Mimosas, Bellinis, Bloody Marys, or Aperol Spritz) or Big City Tavern ($13 for unlimited Mimosas or Bloody Marys). Both are on Las Olas and have really good food, but I usually prefer Bossi (Italian food) as a dinner spot than a brunch spot.
  • Best Ambiance – When looking for a great brunch I usually tend to lean toward which has the best food, and which has the best ambiance. Two of my favorites are Burlock Coast (in The Ritz), and Shooters Waterfront. Both restaurants have really amazing food (Shooters has a buffet option as well), and even better scenery. Burlock is on A1A across from the beach, and Shooters is on the Intracoastal.
  • Best Buffet – If you’re like me, and like to stuff your face with food, there are two places that I recommend for the best brunch you’ve ever had – Coastal (across from the beach), or Blue Moon Fish Company (on the Intracoastal). Coastal is $39.99 + $18 for unlimited drinks (champagne, mimosa, bellini, prosecco, bloody marry, or screwdriver), and Blue Moon is $69.95 (but comes with unlimited champagne, mimosa, and bloody mary). Both of these spots have phenomenal food, and I can guarantee you won’t have to eat for the rest of the day.

Lunch Spots:

These are my favorite “lunch” spots, though you can obviously eat here for dinner too. They are also very good if you are looking for a “healthier” option, and they all have vegetarian and vegan options as well.

JB & C – Photo by Me (@DoctorDiaries)

  • JB & C stands for Juice Bar and Cafe. It’s new, and very good. They have great smoothies, bowls, toasts, and panini’s. The food is awesome, but the space is even better. There is a lot of natural light, so you can come here to study, and a cute little nook if you want to just grab a bite and hang with friends.
  • Poke House is actually from the same creators as JB & C. The name is pretty self explanatory (they sell poke bowls, duh), but the Hawaiian flare of the restaurant is what actually makes it unique. Aside from that, the fish is fresh, and the ambiance is on point. Great to sit in for a bite or to pick up and take home.

Mayapapaya – Photo by Dorie Passen @Plantforward

  • Maya Papaya is one of my favorite spots. It’s a great little restaurant that serves fresh sandwiches, organic salads, small batch soups and raw cold pressed juices. The food is healthy and delicious, and I always leave feeling like I just did something good for my body. They also just opened a second location on the water.

Dinner Spots:

It’s very hard to narrow the restaurants down to my “favorites” because there truly are so many good ones, but these are definitely the ones I crave (and visit) the most…

  • Sun, Surf, and Sand aka S3. This has and always will be one of my favorite restaurants. It’s a tapas restaurant, across the street from the ocean, with an outdoor fire pit, small shareable dinner plates, amazing cocktails, and incredible desserts – oh, and they serve sushi too. Honestly, what more could you ask for? I went here with my entire family for my med school graduation, I’ve been here for New Years Eve dinner, anniversaries, birthdays, and even just on a random weeknight. Oh, and they have happy hour specials as well.
  • Doc B’s – This place is fairly new, but I’ve already been at least 5 times. It is actually a chain restaurant, though they only have about 7 locations right now. I would describe the food as American, and the menu has apps, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and sides. The guacamole with sweet potato chips is absolutely incredible, but everything else that you order I can guarantee will be amazing as well.

Sushi Rock – Photo by Me (@DoctorDiaries)

  • Sushi Rock – If you’re looking for really delicious sushi in Fort Lauderdale, this is your spot. All of their signature rolls are named after different rock bands, and they’re all amazing. It’s honestly hard to pick just one roll, but if I had to make recommendations I would say the Sublime, Wallflower, Pink Floyd, and Big Bopper are my favorites. They also have really good appetizers (great balls of fire!) and Thai entrees.
  • Canyon – A lot of people don’t know about this restaurant because it’s not in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, and I almost feel like I should keep it that way, but I would be doing you a disservice if i didn’t include it on my list. Canyon is a “southwest” restaurant, but don’t let that fool you. Their steak tacos are made with filet mignon and their shrimp and grits are probably the best I’ve ever had. They are also famously known for their prickly pear margaritas. The prices are on the medium-high side but if you sit at the bar any day (except Saturdays) from 5:30-8 pm it’s half off small plates, half off prickly pair margaritas (for women), and 2 for 1 well martinis for men. They also have other specials depending on what night of the week it is. Oh, and their white chocolate bread pudding is the best you will ever taste.

Waterfront Spots:

These places are good for lunch, dinner, brunch, you name it. But are waterfront so you are also getting the best views while enjoying your grub.

15th Street Fisheries – Photo by @15StFisheries

  • 15th Street Fisheries is a staple in Fort Lauderdale. There is a downstairs restaurant and bar that is much more chill, and an upstairs dining room for your more special occasions. Both are great, but the menu’s are a little bit different. I personally prefer the vibes downstairs right by the water, and you can even feed the massive tarpon that swim around the dock (check out their dock cam!). They also have happy hour on Fridays, half of bottled of wine on Tuesdays and Wednesday, and brunch specials on Sunday.
  • Coconuts is one of the best waterfront spots, hands down, period. The food is phenomenal, the mojitos are top notch, and their homemade ice cream cookie sandwich tastes as amazing as it looks. Ask for their Scooby Snacks (not on the menu) if you want to try the best little baby crab claws you’ve ever had. They do get pretty busy on the weekends and don’t take reservations, so get there early.

Southport raw Bar – Photo by Christine and Mark Swenson @CM_Swenson

  • Southport Raw Bar is pretty much a local hangout with the best seafood. They have the. best. oysters. (which you can get raw, or grilled with garlic and Parmesan). They also have a signature clam chowder, which you can get mixed (red and white) and it’s fire. It’s right on the water and has  a nice little breeze so it’s not unbearable sitting outside.
  • Shooters Waterfront (discussed previously under brunch options) is a little north of downtown Fort Lauderdale but worth the short drive. They have a really good brunch on Sundays (buffet style OR a la cart) and a very fun outside patio. If you sit outside you will also get great views of the Intracoastal Waterway to watch all the incredible boats go by.

Chill Bars:

For nights when you want to do something fun, but don’t feel like raging til 2 am.

Rooftop – Photo by @Rooftop1WLO

  • Rooftop is the newest (and only) rooftop bar in the area. Despite its very unoriginal name, it’s actually a lot of fun. It’s located in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale so you can make this just one stop on your list, or can stay here the whole night. They have really awesome craft cocktails, and just as delicious ‘nibbles‘. AND on Sunday’s you can come here for brunch + ProsecoPong.
  • Glitch is the coolest bar in Fort Lauderdale. Why? because it’s full of arcade games that you can play, for free. They also have a ridiculously long list of beers on tap and by the bottle, in addition to really cool cocktails (including “The Bomb” which comes with a frozen firecracker ice pop inside). They don’t serve food, but you should definitely go here for an evening of fun and games.

Rooftop – Photo by @Rooftop1WLO

  • Rhythm & Vine is a very cool indoor outdoor bar (Side note: this is where I met Erik for the first time!). You can go here at any time (day or night) if you literally just want to hang out for a little. It’s kind of secluded so bar hopping isn’t really an option (unless you Uber). They have a fun air-stream bar outside, and the inside bar is made out of train crates (how cool is that?). They also play really great music.
  • Funky Buddha Brewery is located on the North Side of Fort Lauderdale. This place is ideal for large groups of people. They have a huge tap room that you can take a tour of if you want, but the best part about Funky Buddha is their beer flavors. You can go on their website to find out what beers they currently have on tap, or just show up and hope that ‘No Crusts’ (their PB&J beer) is one of them.

Wine Bars:

I would say I’m more of a Netflix and chill kind of person, but if I’m leaving my house it’s usually for food… or wine.

Wine Garden – Photo by Sarah Updike @Dike_Pix

  • Wine Garden is similar to Vinos, but it’s very close to the beach. Because of this there is a nice breeze, and it’s very easy to go for a stroll on the sand to watch the sunset before stopping in for a glass of wine. They also have snacks if you are hungry.
  • Vinos on Las Olas is one of the cutest wine bars I’ve ever been to. It’s right off of Las Olas, which is the main street that runs through downtown Fort Lauderdale. To get to the wine bar, you have to walk through a tiny little alley, which opens up into an adorable wine garden patio. They have a great wine selection, and as assortment of food items as well. This is a great spot for a date night, or just to hang out with friends.

Wine Watch Bar – Photo by @SecretsOfSouthFlorida

  • The Wine Watch Bar is the biggest secret of Fort Lauderdale – you guys are lucky I am telling you about it. It’s not even listed on their website so I honestly don’t know how to give you the address, except to say that it’s directly across from the Wine Watch store. The owners (husband and wife) created this space to give you wine at wholesale prices. They also sell some small plates and charcuterie boards if you’re hungry. The walls are lined with wine bottles and the ceiling with huge chandeliers. They hold special tasting events as well.

Sweeeeets:

My downfall is my sweet tooth. I love chocolate, ice cream, and a good cupcake. These are the go to places to satisfy that sweet craving.

Photo by Gary James @Garydrj.Photog

  • Sweeter Days Bake Shop is the best bakery. You have not lived if you haven’t had their Cinnamon Bun Cream Cheese Swirl cupcake, but they have so many other flavors that it’s really hard to pick just one. They also have the most ridiculous cookies, and some phenomenal cakes (for any celebration). Not that you need a cake while on vaca in Lauderdale, but definitely stop by for a cupcake (or two).
  • Chill’n Nitrogen Ice Cream is my most recent obsession. For starters, ice cream is everything. But this ice cream, is everything and then some. It’s so creamy, I just don’t understand it (they must use magic). You can pick any base (I usually use coconut milk to make it dairy free), any flavors (I do PB + Nutella, because why not), and any mix ins (rainbow sprinkles and Oreo’s over here). Its heaven in a cup.
  • The two best chocolate shops in Fort Lauderdale are Kilwins, and Hoffmans. You can find anything here from your typical toffee and fudge, to chocolate covered bacon. When I’m craving some serious sweets, these are where I go.

I know this post was long, but I hope I have relayed to you how truly passionate I am about the local spots we have here in my cute little beach town. I hope you highly consider coming to visit to try them out for yourselves, and please feel free to reach out if you’re ever in the area!

XoXO
-Erica

Disease Fighting Foods Food

Eye Care About Your Health

As an Internal Medicine physician, it’s important to always look at people as a whole, and not to leave any body system behind. That being said, an annual optometry or ophthalmology visit is something I recommend to all of my patients, after all, they say the eyes are the windows to the soul for a reason!

While I always advocate for eating healthy and exercising, there are certain foods which are actually harmful to our eyes, and others which are beneficial. I have asked my friend Gabriela Olivares to go into some more detail on this topic for you all, and here is what she had to say:

Diet and nutrition play an important role not only in your general health but in your eye’s health as well. Because of this, adding certain nutrients to your diet through food or supplementation can help promote good vision. For example, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega 3s, vitamin C and vitamin E are just a few key nutrients that should be added to everyone’s daily diet for better eye health.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that filter out high-energy blue light coming from electronic devices such as phones and tablets. These harmful light rays can damage the eyes over time by reducing the amount of protective macular pigment found in the center of vision. This in turn can lead to a devastating ocular disease called macular degeneration. These nutrients also act as antioxidants to decrease free radical damage, which can lead to cataracts.

Studies have shown that higher intake of lutein and zeaxanthin has been associated with a lower risk of developing both cataracts and macular degeneration. It’s vital to note that the body does not naturally produce these nutrients, therefore to obtain adequate amounts you must eat a diet high in green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli), or other foods such as eggs.

Omega 3 fatty acids are considered important nutrients for the eyes as well. They can be found in cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel), seeds (flaxseed, chia seed) and some nuts. These essential fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—a component found in low levels in those with dry eye. Studies have shown that omega 3s can also reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. According to the FDA you should consume about 3-4g of omega 3s daily.

Vitamin C and Vitamin E are antioxidants mainly found in fruits (lemons, grapefruit, oranges), and nuts or sweet potatoes, respectively. They both help protect the eyes from molecules which break down healthy tissue. Scientific evidence has shown that in addition to being taken with other supplements, these vitamins can help slow the formation and progression of cataracts and macular degeneration as well. The FDA recommends 90 mg/day supplementation in men and 75 mg/day in women for vitamin C and 22 IU of vitamin E per day.

It is important to remember that eating healthy is not only good for the eyes, but also for your overall health.  With the high prevalence of diabetes and hypertension in our communities, it is critical to understand that these conditions can affect the eyes as well. Although genetics does play a role in both, lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise are major modifiable risk factors.

Though it’s not always easy for us to remember exactly what nutrients we should be eating for eye health, it is easy to remember that all of our diets should be rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as good fats, such as fish, avocado, and nuts. While I’m not a dietitian, I can tell you that keeping a balanced diet will not only lead to better vision, but improved energy and overall well being, and that preventive medicine is the best kind of medicine.

XoXo
-Erica

Food Recipes

Smokin’ Hot (and Delicious)

I don’t know how many of you are loving this new Instagram poll feature, but I totally am. The first time I tried it out was to ask you all if you wanted the recipe for my new favorite pasta dish, and most of you said yes (to the other 8% who said no, explain yourselves). So this recipe was crafted in an attempt to recreate a meal my boyfriend and I had on our recent trip to Greece (if you want to read all about that, check it out here).

We were at Katerina’s Restaurant and Cocktail Bar in Mykonos and asked the waitress what she recommended from the menu. She told us that every time someone orders the Farfalle pasta, the smells are so great that she has a difficult time bringing it to the table without eating it herself. We were sold, and that was also probably one of the best decisions we made on our trip (aside from reserving a balcony seat at Katerina’s, months in advance, for the incredible sunset view).

The Farfalle pasta dish came with smoked salmon, sun-dried tomatoes, and a creamy smokey sauce that was such an incredible combination of flavors. After several weeks home from Greece, and a few other pasta dinners later, I realized that what I was really craving was that farfalle dish. I went back to the menu online to get some ideas, but they don’t give out any of their secrets (I don’t blame them).

I googled “smoked salmon sun-dried tomato pasta” and found several recipes, but none of them really sounded exactly like what I was looking for. I decided to take a few tips from the recipes I found, and use some of my “Food Network” acquired cooking skills to try and come up with a recipe myself.

After two separate attempts, I got the exact flavor I was looking for. This dish has the perfect amount of smokiness, creaminess, and deliciousness, and I even altered the recipe to make it as healthy as possible (so I can make it once a week without feeling too guilty about it). You should be able to find most of the items at your local grocery store, but I went to Fresh Market for the smoked salmon because theirs is hands down the freshest and best tasting (to those of you in the Mid-West, I know Whole Foods has a similar, packaged version of the wild [or farm raised] smoked salmon called “Whole Catch” which you can use as well).


When making the recipe, I stuck with the Farfalle type of pasta, aka the one that looks like little bow ties. I did this A. to keep the trend going of the dish we had in Greece, B. I find that it holds onto the flavor pretty well (you can also use Fusilli to get the same results), and C. It’s pretty. Obviously I bought organic, whole wheat pasta (again, to make myself feel better) and I used the general rule of thumb of 3 cups of uncooked pasta per serving (for two people), but you can use a little more if you want some leftovers. Cook the pasta according to it’s package instructions, and while the pasta is cooking you can tackle the rest of the steps.


First, I cut up the sun dried tomatoes into small little pieces and minced the garlic. I bought sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil to avoid using any extra oil in the recipe. I added the sun-dried tomatoes and the minced garlic to a deep-ish skillet over low-medium heat and let them saute together for about 1-2 minutes. Next I added all the liquids; the cream, broth, and white wine, and raised the temp to bring it to a boil. Once boiling, I reduced it to medium again and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes. If the sauce doesn’t thicken to your liking, add 1/2 tsp of corn starch (which I did) to get the right consistency.


Now you can add in your smoked salmon, which I just cut into small chunks. Heat the salmon through (you will see it change from dark to light pink) and continue to stir so the flavors get incorporated into the sauce. By now your pasta should be done, so drain it, and add it to your sauce-salmon mixture. Top it off with the lemon juice, grated cheese, dill, and any other seasonings (I just added a touch of pepper) and mix well. Let it sit for 4-5 minutes to heat evenly (stirring occasionally), and serve. I made some steamed asparagus quickly during those last few minutes and my dish was complete!


Side notes: 1. Because the salmon is salty to begin with, make sure the broth you purchase is no sodium (or very low sodium) to avoid extra saltiness, and don’t add salt until you taste the dish prior to serving. 2. If you can’t find Smoked Gouda, you can use Parmesan (that’s what the other recipes used, but it didn’t give me the rich smokey flavor I was looking for). 3. Top off your dish with some dill to make it look extra fancy.

I hope you guys enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

XoXo

-Erica

Smoked Salmon and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

This is the recipe for the BEST pasta dish I have ever had, and I am now sharing with you all. The ingredients listed are for two servings (two people), but you can halve it for 1 or multiply it for bigger dinner parties (orrr to keep for leftovers). Enjoy!

Servings: 1 2
Ingredients
  • 3 cups Uncooked Farfalle Pasta Whole Wheat
  • 2 cloves Garlic - Minced
  • 10 pieces Sun-Dried Tomato in Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Regular Cream
  • 1/2 cup White Cooking Wine
  • 1 cup No Sodium Chicken Broth or Veggie Broth
  • 8 oz Cold Smoked Salmon
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2-4 tbsp Chopped Dill
  • 1/2 cup Grated Smoked Gouda or Grated Parmesan
  • 2 tbsp Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto *optional
  • 1 tsp Corn Starch *optional
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.

  2. While the pasta is cooking, mince the garlic cloves and chop the sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces. Add both to a deep skillet over low-medium heat and saute together for about 1-2 minutes while stirring.

  3. Add the liquids; the cream, white wine, and chicken broth, and raise the temperature to bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low-medium again and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes.

    *If the sauce doesn't thicken to your liking, you can add 1/2 tsp of corn starch (which I did) to get the right consistency. 

  4. Cut your smoked salmon into chunks, and add it to your sauce. Heat the salmon through (you will see it change from dark to light pink) and continue to stir so the flavors get incorporated into the sauce.

  5. By now your pasta should be done, so drain it, and add it to your sauce-salmon mixture. Top it off with the lemon juice, grated cheese, dill, and any other seasonings (I added a touch of pepper). Mix well. 

    *I also added a bit of sun-dried tomato pesto for some extra flavor. 

  6. Let it sit for a minute or two to heat evenly, and serve!

Recipe Notes

Side notes:

1. Because the salmon is salty to begin with, make sure the broth you purchase is no sodium (or very low sodium) to avoid any extra saltiness, and don't add salt until you taste the dish prior to serving.

2. If you can't find Smoked Gouda, you can use Parmesan (that's what some of the other recipes used, but it didn't give me the rich smokey flavor I was looking for).

3. Top off your dish with some dill to make it look extra fancy.

Food Recipes

Banana Bread: The Good, the Brown, and the Nutty

Have you ever stopped to think, who was the first person to take an egg (something that comes out of a chicken’s, well, you know), crack it open, cook it, and consume it. Like really, WHO thought that was a good idea? I like to imagine that it was an accident. That a farmer dropped an egg onto a hot concrete floor and voila, sunny side up! (but I can’t figure out the part of the story where he decides to pick it up and eat it).

Now that I have gone grossly off topic, let’s get back to the point of my rant; this is how I feel about bananas (though not as strongly). What genius found a yellow object hanging from a tree, picked it, peeled it back and said “this looks like something I could eat and not die from.” In addition, who decided to wait until they were brown and gross looking, and incorporate them into a perfectly delicious baked good? Not that I’m complaining; Not only is banana bread one of my favorite desserts that is also considered an acceptable breakfast food (who doesn’t love cake for breakfast?), but it’s a great way to salvage bananas that would otherwise go to waste.

Though I haven’t always been the biggest fan of raw bananas, I am a huge fan of their dessert counterparts (banana bread, bananas foster, etc.). I stumbled upon this banana bread recipe forever ago and have made some adjustments to it over the years, and I must say, it is quite perfect. So perfect that it’s usually gone in a week. The bread comes out so soft and moist (I’m sorry, I hate that word but it’s the only way to describe it), and the top is crunchy and delicious.

The recipe as is makes four banana bread loaves, so I occasionally halve it and only make two, but I promise no one will be opposed to taking it off your hands if you have leftovers. I have even used these in the past to make banana bread pudding (stay tuned and I may share that recipe with you as well). You can also choose to add chocolate chips or walnuts, I usually add walnuts for extra crunch, but it will come out great without them too. No matter how you make it, it boils down to one thing, this recipe is bananans, B-A-N-A-N-A-S (yea, I’ve been waiting to add that in).

Just a few last minute tips; I like to use Bobs Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Flour; it makes me feel like I’m being somewhat healthy, and you should be able to find this at any local grocery store. I also use my KitchenAid wire whip head for mixing everything together, but the flat beater head for when I mix in the dry ingredients. I find that this blends everything together smoothly but still gives it that bread-like consistency at the end. Enjoy!

XoXo -Erica

 

Banana Bread
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
 

The only Banana Bread recipe you will ever need.

Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Servings: 4 Loaves
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 ripe bananas mashed
  • 1 16 ounce container sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts optional
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preparation: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (150 degrees c). Grease four 7x3 inch loaf pans. In a small bowl, mix together the last 3 ingredients (brown sugar, white sugar, and cinnamon)

  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and 3 cups of sugar together. Mix in the eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream, vanilla, and cinnamon. Mix in salt, baking soda, and flour. Stir in nuts.

  3. Divide the mixture into prepared pans, and sprinkle the top with the prepared cinnamon sugar mixture (and more nuts if you want!)

  4. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

You can halve this recipe if you only want to make two bread loaves, but trust me when I say they will be eaten quickly (and you can always give one or two away).