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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 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).