Saturday, January 22, 2011

Home again and hungry

My sweetheart is an excellent cook. He is also a little more experimental than I am. I stick to fairly concrete flavor palates, whereas he'll mix and play around. Sesame oil and oregano? But of course! Tomatoes and ginger? Why not! Sometimes, this leads to... some less than successful dishes. But over the years, the experimentation has lead to some winners.

Salmon salad quesadillas is one of his keeper recipes. A big hit after a day of skiing or hiking or... 36 straight hours of travel. As soon as I walked in the door yesterday, I asked him to make them for dinner. They're fabulous year round, but are especially good in the winter when you're trying to get through a freezer full of frozen fish. The secret (and slightly odd) ingredient is caraway seeds, which add a nutty fragrance.
Salmon Salad Quesadillas

For the salmon salad:

1 salmon fillet (about a pound)
3 spears of dill pickle
1/2 a small onion, finely diced
1 stem of celery, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. plain yogurt
1 tsp. caraway seeds  
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tbs. lemon juice (if needed)

To complete the quesadillas
Tortillas (we like the raw flour tortillas you can buy at Costco!)
Grated cheddar cheese
Bacon! (cooked)
Red cabbage, or another crunchy green. 
Salsa/hot sauce

Preheat oven to 375F. Thaw salmon, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook in foil for 10-15 minutes until well cooked. We cook it quite a bit longer than we would if we were eating it in fillet form. You don't want to over cook it, but if you do it's okay- that's what mayonnaise is for.  Now's a good time to fry the bacon, too. Cool fillet in the fridge, or outside if it's cold.

While the fillet is cooling, chop pickle, onion and garlic. Chop together, as finely as possible so that the flavors can meld together. Flake fillet into a bowl. I usually flake it with my hands first as I drop the fish into the bowl, and then with a fork to get it really fine. This also helps weed out any pin bones that may have been in the fillet. Add chopped pickle, onion, and garlic, celery, mayo and yogurt, caraway seeds and black pepper. I stop here and taste. Sometimes, it needs a little lemon juice to brighten it up. 

Heat up a pan on med-high heat, cook or heat tortilla and add grated cheese. Fold in half to melt cheese. Once the cheese has melted and the tortilla has toasted a bit, take off heat, open the tortilla and add salmon salad, cabbage, bacon and salsa. Fold up, and enjoy!

PS- leftovers are great for open-faced salmon salad melts, or... Salmon cakes!

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