Salmon Nuts

The new blog design has me wanting to cook! More importantly, it has me inspired to remember to take pictures of what I cook. I don't use a fancy camera like some of the other food blogs do, not that there is anything wrong with that. I also don't take more than 10 pictures of anything, cause who has time for that?! I just take a quick shot so you all can see what it should (somewhat) look like as an end result when you're done cooking it. I'm no food stylist for sure and I just want the pictures to look real...because usually I'm snapping the shots right before we sit down to eat it. Now about the food...

This is a pan-roasted almond crusted salmon and it's so easy, good for you, and doesn't have any strange ingredients. I use this same "crusting" technique with chicken cutlets, pork medallions, and other types of fish. Just make sure your chicken or pork is no more than 3/4-inch thick so that it cooks through without burning the nuts, like I came extremely close to doing, as you can see in the picture.

I served this salmon with a chilled whole wheat couscous salad that I first started making at work for a food-sale weekend. The fresh basil vinaigrette is so yummy and makes the desires for Spring overwhelming. I typically add toasted almonds to the couscous, but since I'm using nuts on the salmon, I'm leaving them out. Couscous is so easy to prepare because it's a type of pasta and not a grain, so it only requires steaming and not boiling. I use my instant hot water dispenser and the couscous is done in 5 minutes (Israeli couscous, which is more of a pearl-shape, does require boiling).

The basil vinaigrette is something I make at least 2 cups of at a time. I use it for the obvious salad, a marinade, in cold pasta or tuna salad instead of mayo, and so much more. It's really vers-a-tile (you have to say that slowly with the emphasis on each syllable and end with "-tile" using an extremely long "i" sound....I don't know why, but I say it that way every time and it makes me chuckle to myself). Hee hee.

Almond Crusted Pan Roasted Salmon
Serves: 4

4 pieces salmon (about 4-6 ounces each), skin-off, bones removed
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 egg white mixed with 1 tsp. cold water
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. oil
4 lemon wedges for garnish (optional)

For the couscous:
8 ounces whole wheat couscous
1 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup basil vinaigrette (recipe follows)
4 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup roasted corn medley
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tsp. fresh citrus juice (lemon, lime, or orange) or vinegar (red wine, apple cider, or rice wine)
1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds (optional)

Basil Vinaigrette:
yield: 2 cups

1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup agave nectar (or 1/2 cup sugar)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 cup canola or olive oil
8 leaves fresh basil

Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium-low heat and add the 2 Tbsp. oil. In a shallow dish or paper plate, stir together the egg white and water with a fork. In a separate dish or paper plate, toss the almonds with the parsley. Sprinkle both sides of the salmon with salt, pepper, and the garlic powder. Press only the flesh (where the bones were removed from) side of the salmon filets into the egg whites and then into the almonds (you are only putting the egg whites and almonds on one side). Cook the salmon, almond-side down, very slowly so the almonds don't burn. Turn after you start to see the edges of the salmon turn pale pink. Cook on the other side for about 3-5 minutes or until desired doneness. Make the vinaigrette by blending all the ingredients in a food processor, blender, or by using an immersion blender. In a 1 quart dish that has a lid, place the couscous, 1/2 tsp. salt, and water. Cover and let set for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine; chill.

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