The other night, Eric went out with friends from work to watch the UCLA basketball game, which would decide who would make it into the NCAA final four. I lost interest in the tournament long ago, ever since each of my family's alma maters were ousted. I never really thought that this was Duke's year, UNLV and Texas A&M both put up impressive fights and should have won, and Cornell, well, they should have been happy just to be invited to the dance (sorry Eric--sometimes the truth hurts). Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the final rounds, I have somehow managed to be a top contender for winning our tournament bracket--pure skill I tell you, pure skill.
Since Eric was gone for dinner, I took the opportunity to make a nice healthy salmon dinner. I have had a bit of an obsession with fennel lately, working it into any recipe that I can. Although it is quite strong and similar to licorice in taste when eaten raw, when it is roasted, grilled, or marinated, it takes on a completely different, and definitely milder, flavor. Since the fennel at my grocery store was looking particularly fresh, I decided to use it to make a healthy relish featuring citrus flavors, cucumber, and red onion. As a topping for fish, it adds a nice crunchy contrast in texture and it presents beautifully. Here are just a few tips for this heart-healthy dish:
- This relish is very versatile and would pair well with almost any type of fish, or even chicken. Try it with grouper, halibut, mahi-mahi, or any firm fish.
- The relish will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days after preparation.
- Instead of roasting the fish, you can also pan-sear it in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray and cook the fish for about 4 minutes on each side, or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.
- Feel free to change up the relish a bit by incorporating other citrus fruits like ruby-red grapefruit, blood oranges, or tangerines.
Roasted Salmon with Orange-Fennel Relish
1 cup finely chopped fennel
3/4 cup chopped orange sections
1/2 cup chopped English cucumber
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped lemon sections
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
4 (6-8 ounce) salmon fillets, about 1-inch thick
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the relish: Combine the relish ingredients in a large bowl, tossing well to coat. Season with salt and pepper and set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees.
Prepare the fish: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Place the salmon fillets on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the fillets are cooked through and flake easily when cut with a fork, about 12-15 minutes. Serve fish topped with the relish, passing any extra on the side.
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