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062322 food column

A refreshing twist on classic Mexican dishes

Conquering My Culinary Bucket List One Dish at a Time
By Emily Wooten Banks

Some weeks back, an email showed up in my inbox with a subject line that said “50 Fresh Ideas for Summer Suppers” or something along those lines. It caught my attention so I checked it out. It was jam packed with pictures of some of the most beautiful dishes I’d ever seen.

The deeper I dove into it, I soon found myself salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs upon hearing the bell ring. They all looked delicious and so fresh and colorful. I won’t even tell you how many I bookmarked to return to later and prepare. Two dishes in particular caught my eye as I thought that, prepared together, they would make the absolute perfect southwest summer supper. One is “Salmon al Pastor” and the other is “Roasted Poblano and Corn Guacamole.”

The article stated the salmon al pastor recipe is from Alex Snodgrass’s new cookbook, “The Comfortable Kitchen.”

“While I don’t like to pick favorites,” Snodgrass writes, “this is one of my very favorite recipes in this book. This dish borrows the flavors of al pastor, a popular Mexican style of taco containing marinated pork or lamb cooked on vertical spits. The warming spice blend combined with the sweet and tart pineapple is fantastic on just about any protein—but this salmon weeknight dinner is delightful in every way. It’s light, easy and very flavorful!”

And she’s right. It’s easy to prepare yet super healthy and filled with flavor. With the current cost of fresh salmon, we probably won’t be having it again any time in the immediate future, but I’m glad we tried it and it’s definitely a solid, and different, take on salmon that I’m thrilled to have in my repertoire.

The roasted poblano and corn guacamole was delightful. It’s a chunkier version than usual and the roasted poblano and corn added a refreshing twist, in addition to more textures and flavor. I’ll definitely keep it in the rotation.

Salmon al Pastor

From purewow.com

— 2 garlic cloves, peeled

— ¾ cup small-diced fresh pineapple, divided

— 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

— 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder or chipotle chile powder

— 1 teaspoon chili powder

— ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

 — ¼ teaspoon dried oregano

— ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

— 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)

— 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (about ½ orange)

— ¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth

— ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided

— 2 tablespoons avocado oil

— 4 center-cut salmon filets (6 to 8 ounces each)

— ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

— Quick-pickled red onions, for serving (see recipe below)

— ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional for serving

— 1 tablespoon thinly sliced serrano pepper, optional for serving

• In a food processor or blender, combine the garlic, ¼ cup of the diced pineapple, the vinegar, ancho powder, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, lime juice, orange juice, broth and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Blend the pastor sauce until smooth.

• In a nonstick skillet, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat. Season the salmon with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and the pepper. Place the salmon in the hot skillet and cook until golden brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Reduce the heat to medium and pour the pastor sauce around the salmon in the skillet, along with the remaining ½ cup diced pineapple.

• Continue to cook the salmon, uncovered and simmering, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes.

• Transfer the salmon to a large serving platter and pour the sauce over the filets. Top with the pickled red onions. If desired, garnish with cilantro and a few slices of serrano pepper if you’re feeling extra spicy.

My notes:

  • I used two packages of salmon which ended up being six filets.

  • I always add a little more garlic than a recipe calls for because that’s just how we roll.

  • Don’t skip the pickled onions. A super quick version is included here and they really add a nice brightness and crunch to the dish.

Quick-Pickled Onions

From purewow.com

— 1 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
— ½ cup distilled white vinegar
— 2 teaspoons honey
— 1 teaspoon kosher salt

• In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, honey, salt and ½ cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

• Meanwhile, tightly pack the onion slices into a heatproof jar or airtight container. When the vinegar mixture comes to a simmer, pour it directly over the onions.

• Let the pickled onions sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before refrigerating or using. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Roasted Poblano and Corn Guacamole

From purewow.com

— 2 poblano peppers

— 1 ear of corn, shucked

— 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

— 2 avocados

— 1 red onion, chopped

— 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

— 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

— 1 garlic clove, minced

• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

•Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the poblano peppers and ear of corn on it.

• Brush the vegetables with the olive oil and roast until lightly charred, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

• Chop the poblanos and cut the corn off the cob. In a large bowl, mash the avocados with a fork. Stir in the poblano peppers, corn, red onion, cilantro, lime juice and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

My notes:

  • Based on the amounts the recipe called for, I was worried this would just make a little dab. I wanted to bulk it up a little so I used three avocados instead of two, two ears of corn instead of one and of course, extra garlic.

  • I roasted my poblanos for 10 minutes which was perfect, but had to roast the ears of corn for a total of 30 minutes to get the desired char.

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