Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tomato Basil Salmon

Today's recipe is one of those "almost" local ones.  It's all local - EXCEPT..

I just can't give up my fish.  I can't, and I don't want to.  If I eat all red meat all the time, I am going to raise my cholesterol level.  Plus, according to Wikipedia, salmon is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D!  Don't eat the farmed salmon, though, because it's chucked full of PCBs.

(Although, on the other hand, salmon is one of the foods my doctor told me to cut out to help decrease my risk of getting kidney stones: salmon, spinach, nuts, chocolate, and wine.  Riiiggghhhttt... that's gonna happen real soon.)

I could, in theory, eat Lake Michigan salmon and have it be mostly local.  According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, I can eat 1 meal per month of Chinook Salmon (as long as it is less than 30" long) or Coho Salmon (of any size) before I die of cancer or possibly start glowing in the dark. The Michigan Department of Public Health says the same.  I can't find the information from the Wisconsin Department of Public Health...

I know that, like anything, lake fish is healthy when eaten in moderation.  But it's just too big of a risk in my mind.  I could, in theory, want to have kids some day, and I don't want all that mercury floating around in my system.  Once I am 100% sure I am never having any, or any more, kids, I will eat my one serving of lake fish per month.  But, until then, I think I would rather go out of market for my seafood.  I will make an exception for smelt once per year, though, because it's an important Wisconsin tradition, and because smelt is on the safe to eat once a week list, and I'm only eating it once a year. 

Any way, the moral of that story is I like salmon, it's good for me, and I'm going to eat it.  If you want to complain about it, post a comment (I never get any comments... and negative attention is better than no attention at all!)

We're reaching the end of summer, and tomatoes should be in full force.  It is, from what I've heard, a bad year for tomatoes.  Tomato blight is bad, at least in my garden, and I've heard the same from others.  I'm still getting more than I can use, but not a lot more.  Certainly not enough to can yet.  Tomato blight is, in my mind, a pretty scary thing.  Late blight is a disease of tomatoes - but it is also a disease of potatoes.  We had no tomato blight in WI from 2002 to 2009, but we've got it now.  And, it's the same blight that caused the potato famine in Ireland.

So far I've frozen about a half of a gallon sized freezer bag for later use.  Sounds like a lot, right?  But, I've got seven plants going for two people.  At this point, I should have BAGS frozen, and I should have missed some and thrown them out already.  I'm happy I'm not throwing them out, but I wish there were more to freeze... or try to can.  Tomatoes are really easy to freeze.  Just wash them and throw them in the freezer.  You'll want to keep them safe until they freeze up - I keep them in that little shelf on the door - but once they're frozen solid you can just toss them in a bag.  They're like great big solid marbles of goodness.  You can use a frozen tomato anywhere that you would use a cooked tomato.  You only want to let them thaw for a few minutes before cutting them, though.  If they thaw all the way they will just mush out on you and you will never be able to cut them nicely.

But a fresh tomato is still better than a frozen one, and I'd rather use as many fresh as I could while they're still fresh.  Especially when I have glorious heirloom tomatoes.  I freeze the romas, and I freeze the cherry tomatoes - because those are what I seem to get the most of - but the best tomatoes should be used right away.  The best way to eat a tomato is fresh off the vine, with a little salt - but this is a good second best.

So - not local salmon.  But local, fresh, heirloom tomatoes.  A good compromise, I hope:

Tomato Basil Salmon
(Serves 2)
  •  2 - 8 oz salmon fillets
  • 1 clove garlic - smashed and minced (L)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 firm tomato (L*)
  • approximately 8 basil leaves, sliced into thin strips (chiffonade) (L*)
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Season salmon with salt, pepper, and garlic.  Top with tomatoes, and season tomatoes again with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle basil over tomatoes.

Take each salmon fillet, and wrap it securely in a piece of aluminum foil, creating a pocket.  It's best if you can overlap the foil as little as possible, while still creating a secure pocket, as doubled up foil is going to keep the heat out and prevent the salmon from cooking evenly.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until salmon is firm to the touch but still slightly opaque in the center.  Please, PLEASE do not over cook your salmon.  Seriously.  It's so much better if it's even undercooked a little.  If you are buying a good piece of fish, it's okay to keep it from being well done.  Trust me; it will taste better!

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