Simple food, elegant results: Prosciutto-wrapped salmon, Parmesan crisps, and grilled vegetable salad

Here's your new favorite salmon dinner. You can do this!

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Every week I put together a recipe just for you. The goal is simple: make every bite worth your while. 

There are other things I think about: How can I get your own imagination and creativity involved? Can I show off my EuroCAST? Is this something that most people will want to serve to friends and family? 

Well, check all those boxes. Ready? 

Get the lentils going

You can make lentils as complicated as you want -- with a mirepoix and orange peel, whip cream and tarragon. 

But let's not work that hard, my people. 

INGREDIENTS

Our partners at blak•label helped make this recipe possible. Check them out! http://www.blaklabel.com.

  • 1 cup lentils (yellow, red, green, Puy, black, whatever you think will make it gorgeous!)
  • 2-1/2 cup best-quality chicken stock
  • 3 bacon slices, cut into thin, matchstick-sized strips
  • Salt and pepper
  • Diced clove of garlic (two if they're small)

PROCEDURE

  1. In your EuroCAST sauce pan, sweat the bacon until it gets firm but not crispy.
  2. Add the diced garlic to the rendered bacon fat and let it cook through, being careful to avoid burning it, about a minute.
  3. Add the stock and lentils.
  4. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper a little bit (we'll add more later, to layer our seasoning), and then simmer until the lentils are just tender, about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Strain, saving some of the liquid (about 1/2 cup would be a good amount of liquid to keep). 
  6. Turn off the heat.
  7. Return lentils to pan and adjust seasoning. (Layering your S&P is a neat little trick to keep you from over-seasoning, and also building a well-rounded flavor.)
  8. When you're ready to serve the lentils under the salmon, warm them in the sauce pan with some of the reserved lentil water, stirring gently while avoiding making them mushy. 

Serve on the plate, just enough so the salmon on top doesn't completely cover the gorgeous lentils.

Prosciutto-wrapped salmon

Vegetables with grill marks, dressed up in olive oil, salt, and pepper, make this cook happy. Put on top of (or roll around in) your favorite greens with any dressing you like. I like simple vinaigrette because it adds sparkle while staying out of the way of the salad's flavors.

Vegetables with grill marks, dressed up in olive oil, salt, and pepper, make this cook happy. Put on top of (or roll around in) your favorite greens with any dressing you like. I like simple vinaigrette because it adds sparkle while staying out of the way of the salad's flavors.

INGREDIENTS

  • Top-quality prosciutto
  • Fresh thyme
  • Aleppo flakes
  • Salmon steaks (one can serve one to two people usually - about 3-5 ounces each serving).

Have the salmon pin bones removed by the butcher (they do it for free, they do it fast, and they won't destroy the steak in the process). Pick salmon steaks that fit your preferred taste, freshness, health, and sustainability needs. If that's too much to think about: wild-caught Pacific salmon, previously frozen, strikes the right balance for me for cost, taste, and planet. 

PROCEDURE

Let's go. It looks like a lot of things to do, but my step-by-step photos will make it all easier.

As Mabel Mercer once allegedly said, thyme heals everything. 

As Mabel Mercer once allegedly said, thyme heals everything. 

  1. Remove the salmon skin if you want ... but I wouldn't. It's nutritious and its flavor is a bridge between salmon and prosciutto. 
  2. Place each steak on a generous length of prosciutto, cross-wise. You're going to be wrapping up that salmon with the prosciutto in a later step. (See photo.)
  3. Salt and pepper the salmon steaks. Sprinkle with Aleppo flakes.
  4. Strip some fresh thyme off the stem and place on top of the salmon steaks. 
  5. Wrap them all the way around with prosciutto (which, given the lovely texture of prosciutto, is happy to hug the salmon with a loving grip). 
  6. Place some more thyme on the wrapped salmon steaks.
  7. On a hot, large EuroCAST skillet or grill pan (I used my grill pan) arrange the steaks so they're separate from each other. 
  8. Using silicone-tipped tongs, move the steaks as needed to cook all sides. For the narrow sides, just hold the steak in place against the pan bottom as long as needed (and that's not long).
  9. The prosciutto will shrink a little, and the salmon will give up some moisture. After five to ten minutes, remove the steaks from heat.

If your lentils are ready, you can plate the lentils and then place the steaks right on top. But this dish also works beautifully around room temperature, so you're pre-forgiven if you get distracted with company.

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See the lentils under the salmon? See the salad? See the frico (parmesan crisp)? See the yogurt sauce? Every step is simple. 

See the lentils under the salmon? See the salad? See the frico (parmesan crisp)? See the yogurt sauce? Every step is simple. 

Thyme-yogurt topping

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup full fat yogurt (I love grass-fed)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper

Put it all together and blend. The more you blend, the smoother and creamier it looks. Everyone likes that. 

If you place the topping in a bowl on the table, a few extra "flowers" of thyme are beautiful on top, along with a touch of zest. 

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Be free salad

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I'm the maven of no-recipe recipes. Like my son's jazz piano teacher, I make this stuff up -- using technique, full knowledge of the rules, and the chutzpah (or daily exhaustion) that drives me to break the rules as needed. 

Given my tendency to chutzpah, my salads can be all over the map. 

In this menu, let me suggest one direction for your salad journey. I really like the idea of grilled vegetables with the salmon and prosciutto. So, in advance of making the salmon, I sliced some vegetables like baby potatoes, squash, zucchini, and carrots -- to roughly the same thickness, and tossed them in the EuroCAST grill pan, added salt and pepper and olive oil, and gave them a nice set of grill marks. Add shallots if you like, too. Onions might be too strong a flavor and aroma for this menu, though. 

Don't cook the vegetables too much -- you want them a bit toothy, and the less time you cook them, the more flavor they have. 

Then just put them in a bed of your favorite greens (I like arugula), add in any extras you like (nuts? white vinegar-soaked sliced dates?), dress lightly as you see fit, and you're done. 

Homemade Parmesan crisps (aka FRICO)

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I love Parmesan cheese. It has an umami flavor that deepens dishes, and it's incredibly versatile. I eat it in little chunks or slices with charcuterie (or, frankly, just by itself). I slice it thin onto pasta or an arugula salad. There's chicken Parmesan. Parmesan on roasted cauliflower. Savory palmiers (look that one up). Caesar salad. 

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For this menu, you are going to make Parmesan crisps, also known as frico. And it is so easy with EuroCAST, you will love it. (I was tempted to say you'd freak out, but some puns are not worth the groan.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (best quality)
  • 1 T all purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper if you want (but with great Parm, you just may not need it)

Yes, that's all you need. (I did add some black sesame seeds. Not necessary. Nice-looking. But un-fuss this as much as you want.)

PROCEDURE

  1. Blend all the ingredients above. You may not need the salt and pepper. Great Parmesan cheese has a salt plus pepper kind of effect. So if you use it, just a hint.
  2. On a hot EuroCAST pan like the biggest sauté pan or the griddle, sprinkle a four- to six-inch trail of the mixture.
  3. It will soften and melt into an oblong shape. When it's just firm, remove to paper towels. 

Yes, that's all you have to do. Except eat them. Which you may be tempted to do before dinner, but don't, because you'll eat them all. 

For my presentation, I just put a few "chips" from the frico on the plate because the flavor has power, and the other elements are gentler. Just a nibble or two of the frico gives you the balance and surprise you're looking for. 

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Paul WardComment