Friday, June 1, 2012

Spice Girl

Jerk-Style Salmon with Mango Dressed Quinoa and Avocado Salad
I can never seem to get enough spice on my plate! Whether it's the peppery bite of Tabasco in my guacamole or the slow-burn of Sriracha in my udon noodle soup, I love the flavorful dimension spice adds to any meal! On these increasingly hot evenings, I find a healthy dose of spice is the perfect palate-pleasing way to beat the heat. The sweet, smoky blend of Jamaican Jerk-style seasoning makes a great dry-rub for salmon and paired with this fruit-infused quinoa, this is a fantastic dinner time treat. (For a vegan alternative, serve the quinoa salad with tofu or other animal-free protein for a complete meal.)

- 1 lb. salmon fillets with skin  
- 1 c. uncooked quinoa
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. all spice
- 3 Tbsp. grape seed or vegetable oil
- 1 bunch green onions, trimmed and chopped
- 1 14.5 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 mango, diced
- 1 tsp. Tabasco or other hot sauce
- 2 Tbsp. minced cilantro, divided
- 3 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
- juice from 1 lime
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, trimmed and finely diced
- 1 avocado, peeled and diced

In a medium saucepan combine 1 c. quinoa with 2 c. of water and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil over high, cover, and lower heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the quinoa has soaked in all the water. When it is cooked, remove from heat and transfer to a medium bowl to cool.

While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the other ingredients. In a small bowl, mix together all spice, curry, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and 1 tsp. of salt. Sprinkle salmon fillets with salt and pepper then evenly coat all sides of each fillet with spice rub. Allow fillets to sit with spices for about 10 minutes before cooking.

To make the mango dressing place diced mango, vinegar, 1 Tbsp. cilantro, minced garlic, lime juice, Tobasco, and a sprinkle of salt into the bowl of a blender. Puree until smooth. Add olive oil and blend again to combine all ingredients into a creamy consistency. Season to tasted to additional salt and pepper. Set aside.

After the quinoa has cooled slightly add green onions, diced jalapeño pepper, remaining cilantro, and black beans. Stir ingredients to combine. Add avocado and gently mix together. Pour half the dressing onto the salad, mix, then pour the other half and mix a second time so that the ingredients are well incorporated. Set aside to serve at room temperature topped with salmon.

Heat grape seed or vegetable oil over medium high in a large, heavy skillet (cast iron works great for this). Add salmon pieces to hot oil skin side down and sear 2-3 minutes so that a crispy brown layer forms. Turn over fillets and cook the skin side until it begins to brown (2-3 minutes).

Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, break up salmon fillets into bite-sized chunks and spread through the heated pan so that it cooks through, 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle salmon lightly with salt and pepper. Serve portions of salmon over the prepared quinoa salad. This meal serves 4-6.

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