I don't know how I don't have a fish recipe on this blog. Actually, scratch that. I do. It's not that I don't love fish. I do, but I don't cook a whole lot of it at home—for a few reasons. One, I can't stand the thought (and smell!) of fish wrappers sitting in the trash until trash night. Two, I'm always afraid I'm going to mess up a beautiful piece of expensive fish. Grains and beans, on the other hand, are virtually impossible to mess up and if I do, I won't be crying over the few dollars I wasted. And three, I have a hard time finding a reliable source of good-quality, sustainable fish. But fish is just so good for you and delicious, that I wanted to change the lack of fish in my life.
Recently, I discovered a source of sustainable wild-caught salmon that I was happy with (hello there Wild Alaska Direct!), and the recipe wheels got to turning. I wanted something for the grill as the weather is just starting to warm up, but I also tested it on a George Foreman grill thingy. Does anyone but meal still use those? I haven't tested it on a plain skillet, but I can't see why that wouldn't work. You'll still get that smoky-caramelized action going on which is exactly what you're looking for.
The cilantro pepita pesto is a beauty itself. I've drizzled it on a slew of other things, and I have it here on the blog on my Grilled Peach Bruschetta. (Really though, bookmark that one for beach season because it is amazing.). I saute onion, add cauliflower to cook until tender, and then brighten it all up with cilantro pesto. I served this with brown rice, but any grain will do.
Smoky Chili Salmon with Cauliflower and Cilantro Pepita Pesto
4 sustainably caught salmon fillets
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon olive oil
generous pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 medium head cauliflower
¼ cup water
Cilantro Pepita Pesto, recipe follows
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted for serving
1 lemon, cut into wedges for serving
Cooked brown rice or other grain for serving
Preheat grill to medium high. Make salmon rub. Mix spices, honey, olive oil, and salt in small bowl until combined. Lay salmon skin side down and generously rub top of each with mixture, pressing into salmon to adhere. When grill is ready, place salmon skin side down and grill, covered, for 8-10 minutes depending on your grill and hot spots. When you think salmon is almost done, flip and allow to cook for just a minute or so to get nice grill marks on the salmon. If using a George Foreman, the salmon will take about 5 minutes and will not need to be flipped since it's cooking from both sides. Remove from heat and allow to rest 5 minutes.
To cook cauliflower, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until just softened and golden on the edges, 5-7 minutes. Add cauliflower, a generous pinch of salt, and 1/4 cup water, stirring to combine. Cover and allow cauliflower to steam for 7-8 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Remove cover and cook until cauliflower begins to caramelize and liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat, dollop in 1/3 cup of pesto to start and stirring to distribute. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add more pesto if desired.
To serve, place salmon atop rice and cauliflower, adding toasted pumpkin seeds, a lemon slice and passing extra pesto if desired. Serves 4.
Cilantro Pepita Pesto:
½ jalapeño, seeds removed for less spicy variation
Generous 2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds), lightly toasted
2 garlic cloves
1 lime, juiced and zest of ½ lime
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (for a richer pesto, you can add a little pumpkin seed oil instead of olive oil)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Add everything to a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Makes about ½ cup.