Mediterranean Salmon with Olives and Carmelized Red Onions

Looking back at my previous posts, they were looking a little too vegetarian/vegan. It’s time to put some meat on ‘dem bones blog! I realize salmon isn’t meat (fret not…there will be more meat-centered posts to come), however it is an excellent source of protein along with providing omega-3 fatty acids, which help to improve heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower triglycerides, regulate heart rate, slow the formation of plaque in our arteries and may help decrease blood pressure. On top of all that, they also work to inhibit inflammatory processes in our body (AKA they are anti-inflammatory).

The American Heart Association recommends eating omega-3 rich fish at least twice a week (8 ounces per week), but I personally recommend eating it more than that. With lots of delicious omega-3-rich fish to choose from, plus endless preparation possibilities, why not? The way I look at it, salmon and vegetarian proteins should be your main protein sources, with poultry as a supplement and the occasional red meat thrown in. Here are some of my top picks for delicious seafood options (all are high in omega-3’s and the varieties listed are also the most sustainable):

  • Salmon (wild-caught Alaskan): Canned varieties can easily be made into a salmon cake, salmon salad or drizzled with olive oil and eaten with crackers, as-is.
  • Sardines (wild-caught, Pacific): all I am saying, is give sardines a chance. Really! There’s a tendency to give me the stink face when I mention sardines but I promise, they’re delicious! Try ones that are smoked and served in tomato or my favorite – cayenne pepper sauce. Serve over arugula or spinach for a quick dinner salad.
  • Rainbow Trout (farmed, U.S.): I find an amazing, local variety from Wisconsin at Whole Foods. It comes as a filet that I usually stuff with veggies and sometimes cheese and bake in the oven.
  • Tuna (light, skipjack, troll- or pole-caught): canned chunk light tuna (skipjack variety) is lower in mercury than chunk white tuna and also makes for a super-quick protein addition to lunch or dinner. I like it mixed with salsa and a little olive oil topped with diced avocado on a corn tortilla (add cilantro and lime for a little freshness).

For a list of the most sustainable seafood options, check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Pocket Guides. I LOVE their app and it makes me feel way less dorky to look something up on my iPhone rather than having to pull out a little paper brochure.

salmon_mediterranean

Though my go-to salmon preparation is salmon with Island Teriyaki sauce from Trader Joe’s, served with brown rice or quinoa and steamed broccoli (for sure would be my last meal), I wanted to venture out. Seeing that I like to cook with Mediterranean flavors, I created this recipe for Mediterranean Salmon with Green Olives and Carmelized Red Onions. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Salmon with Green Olives and Carmelized Red Onions:

Ingredients: 

  • 16 oz wild Alaskan salmon, cut into 4, 4-ounce pieces. 
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped green olives
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Spread 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste over each piece of salmon and spray with cooking spray. Bake salmon for 12-15 minutes, or until opaque and flaky.

salmon_tomato_paste

Used the tomato paste tube from TJ’s – hence the squiggles of tomato paste.

While salmon is baking, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in large sauté pan and add diced red onion.  Sauté 5-7 minutes, or until onions are carmelized. If desired, add 1 tsp sugar to the onions to bring out their sweetness. Mix red onions with chopped green olives.

Place 1 1/2 cups arugula on plate (I also had leftover black lentils, which I sprinkled on top of the arugula) and top with salmon filet. Spoon 1/4 of the onion/olive mixture over salmon, and drizzle with vinegar and oil.

Leftovers, Revisited: Mint Chutney

If you tried the Tandoori Cauliflower with Mint Chutney featured in my last post, you know the deliciousness that is mint chutney sauce. Tasty as it was, I didn’t use up all the sauce on my cauliflower, and had about 1/2 cup left over. I like to think I’m the queen of leftovers; I love to re-purpose them into an entirely new and delicious dish. One of my many dreams in life is to be on Food Network’s Chopped because I get a thrill out of taking seemingly random ingredients and combining them to perfection close-to-perfection (er, most of the time). Instead of a basket, like they use on Chopped, I just look in my fridge to see what I can combine to create a new meal.

So, with leftover mint chutney on hand, I explored my fridge, freezer and pantry. Hmm…tortillas, canned tuna, frozen mixed bell peppers, red onions, curry powder. Sound random and weird?? Trust me, what I created – Indian Tuna Curry Tacos – was scrumptious!

Indian Tuna Curry Tacos

Indian Tuna Curry Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 2 small corn tortillas
  • 1 can tuna (half salt – from Trader Joe’s), drained
  • 1 cup julienne bell peppers (I used frozen tricolor peppers from TJ’s)
  • 1/4 cup minced red or white onion
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Topping: 1/2 cup mint chutney (featured in my last blog post)

Directions:

Saute minced onions in 1 tsp olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add bell pepper and saute another 3-5 minutes. Mix in tuna and sprinkle with curry powder. Cook for 1 minute. Distribute the mixture evenly into each corn tortilla, then drizzle each taco with 1/4 cup mint chutney and 1/2 Tbsp hot sauce (if desired).

Voila! Dinner in about 15 minutes. Plus omega-3 fatty acids from the tuna to reduce inflammation, improve cognition and promote heart health. And the added bonus of using up the food in your fridge – doesn’t it feel good to actually finish your leftovers??