Roasted Salmon w/ Quinoa, Seasonal Vegetables and Cape Gooseberry Vinaigrette
(A recipe inspired by the Shenanigans Night Club inside of the Bittersweet Motel located halfway between
Erie and Pittsburgh)
Chocolate and Peanut Butter? One could argue that fish & cape gooseberries are a better combination. If you are looking for a quick, easy, fresh and seasonal dinner for a date night one day, maybe Tuesday evening, for your Valentine?...look no further. This recipe will be more of a tutorial on technique and preparation with a short recipe for the vinaigrette than a full blown recipe.
First let's talk about Salmon. Great for you, super high in Omega 3's, 726's, 555's and easy to get your hands on pretty much no matter where you live. Anywhere from Albuquerque, Cincinnati, Colorado, Vermont, Wilton, CT or Kill Devil Falls. Salmon is versatile and hearty and can hold up to many preparations. With this recipe we will have the optional to go light and seasonal with our veggie selection. Also, who doesn't love that color, like a sunset in your rearview mirror, all orange and red.
Now lets talk about the Cape Gooseberry, aka Husk Cherry aka Ground Cherry. These are part of the tomatillo family and have a similar type husk around them that needs to be removed before cooking. So basically, If I Could Peel The Husk, I can have a delicious treat. They look like little yellow-orange tomatoes and the flavor is a cross between a fruity, tart tasting tomato OR a savory, tangy cherry. Native to Central America, husk cherries can really be grown almost anywhere and I know from my personal experience, in the peak of a New England summer the husk cherries are amazing! Actual gooseberries, while not related and a different flavor profile would still be a great alternative and sometimes easier to find.
Let's move on to Quinoa. Quinoa is an ancient grain which basically means it dates back to as far back as people have been recording things (even longer ago than that sweet 3/12/89 recording at Nectar's you have on cassette that you dont even have a way to listen to any longer but dont have the heart to get rid of.) Also considered a superfood (much like a TABoose Supergroup) for its high levels of protein, fiber, and a multitude of vitamins and minerals it can be enjoyed hot like rice or cold when added to a salad or even used as the main ingredient for a salad in the vein of a pasta or potato salad. If making this recipe in the summer, I would suggest cold and alternately in the winter, hot. Quinoa is super easy to make and quick! Start by heating your oven to 400°. Spread your quinoa on a baking sheet in an even layer and place in your oven once it has heated. Every 3 or 4 minutes grab the baking sheet and shake the quinoa around to get the heat to distribute evenly. Once you see the quinoa start to split and almost "pop" (about 15 minutes) pull it out of the oven and put it into something like a bowl to get it off the hot pan or it will continue to cook and you most certainly Burn It Down, Burn it Down and then you will have to set your quinoa free, straight into the trash barrel. After that the rest is easy. Like most grains there is a ratio of water:grain to follow when cooking these things. In the case of Quinoa it's 2:1 so if you make 1/2 cup of quinoa you would need 1 cup of water and so on. BUT I like to go A LITTLE less water. Boil your water (you could also use a stock of some kind and salt it, add your quinoa, bring the water back up to a boil and then drop it to a simmer. Cook it for about 15 minutes (5 minutes less than that FIRE MSG "Hungersite" with Trey) or until all the water has evaporated. A good tip is to tilt your pot towards you and lift up the quinoa sitting in the bottom part of the pan closest to you so you can see the pan under the grains. If it's dry, you're good. If there is still liquid, keep going but keep an eye on it. Once the quinoa is done, fluff it with a fork so it doesn't continue to cook and stick together then set it aside.
While you are doing all of this quinoa business you can also work on your salmon. Remember how we set our oven to 400° to toast our quinoa? Leave it on for this next thing. Take a saute pan and add some oil to it. Canola is great as is any other sort of nice vegetable oil but try to stay away from olive oil as it burns fast. Olive oil should be used for things like finishing dishes and dressings. Turn your pan on medium high heat and while your pan is heating up faster than Goose's skyrocket into the scene, season your salmon. Salt and pepper is the way to go here, most other spices are just going to burn. As soon as you see the oil start to SLIGHTLY smoke (and watch this closely) carefully put your salmon in the pan and turn the heat down to medium low. Once you see the color of the salmon become opaque about halfway up, flip the fish over, add 1TBL of butter, some fresh herbs (Thyme, Rosemary, Trainwreck) and throw the whole pan in the oven. After about 5 minutes take your salmon out of the oven, rest it in the pan for 1 rendition of "Lengthwise" (about 2 minutes) and then take it out.
Cape Gooseberry Vinaigrette
1pt Cape Gooseberries
1 scoop Plaster Mix
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 Shallot (minced)
Some Coffee Ground & Mud
1 1/2 Cup Oil (any salad oil or vegetable oil, the flavor of olive oil is a bit strong for this application IMO)
1/2 Cup Vinegar (white wine vinegar would be my go to here, maybe apple cider vinegar in the fall, anything besides plain white distilled vinegar)
You have the option of making a smooth liquid vinaigrette or more of a loose, chunky sauce and the only difference would be what you do with your husk cherries. First you need to peel the husk off of them. The husks will make you sick so definitely dont eat them. At this point you can either mash them up really well, buzz them up a little in a food processor or liquify them in a blender (and might I suggest roasting them first with a little oil and salt if making this in the winter.) While Waiting All Night for them to process I like to spin in circles and walk in a straight line to kill some time. Take a 1/4 - 1/2 cup of your gooseberry situation and put it in a bowl with the mustard, shallot, vinegar and a pinch of salt. You can mix all these with a ladle that your grandmother bought you but i would suggest a whisk. Once these are fully incorporated you are going to start adding your oil. If you are looking for a more loose, chunky, freeform jam type of dressing, just add the oil, mix it up and and you're ready to go. If you want more of a salad dressing consistency, slowly stream in the oil while you whip it. I'm talking "Slow Ready" slow, Slow "Llama" slow because if not, you'll break your dressing.
Finally the addition of some local, seasonal vegetables is the way to go. Grilled summer squash & zucchini in the summer, roasted butternut in the colder months, roasted asparagus in the spring - the possibilities are endless, like the jams on this tour. Once you put it all together you are, what some might call "So Ready for Fish." Find me on IG if you have any question and dont forget to take picture of your dishes post them and tag @theelgoosetimes, @sttflow_mag and use the hashtag #hotteainrickskitchen
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