Saturday, July 25, 2015

Grilled Salmon with Kale and Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

Last Year's Post:  Fresh Cherry Hand Pies
Two Years Ago:   Chicken Curry

If you're one of the people who are still less than enthused about kale even thought you're perfectly aware that it's very good for you, I think I can help.  There are three secrets to making kale taste good:  buy Tuscan kale (also called Lacinato or dinosaur kale), slice it thinly, and add some sweetness to the dish.  Tuscan kale is more tender and less bitter than curly kale (which I think tends to be tough), and slicing it into thin shreds takes care of any chewiness.

 Adding a slight element of sweetness helps to further counter-act the bitterness.  In this recipe, I added dried fruits and freeze-dried corn for texture, taste and sweetness but the real star was the maple mustard vinaigrette.  I've used maple mustard glazes or sauces in the past, but this particular recipe is by far the best I've ever tried.  I think it has something to do with the proportions of the ingredients but also this is the first time I've tried a recipe that includes soy sauce.  Whatever the reason, this will now be my standard go-to vinaigrette for any salad that includes bitter ingredients such as kale or radicchio, it's that good.

The vinaigrette complemented both the salmon and the kale, but the key is to use it sparingly with the kale because the flavors are bold.  Use just enough to moisten the salad - don't drown it in vinaigrette.  Then serve the remainder on the side to drizzle over the salmon.  I found the vinaigrette recipe in "Eating Well" magazine and it had a review from one woman who tried cutting the amount of oil in half to reduce the fat content.  She reported that the result was fantastic but she felt the key was to use walnut oil because it's more flavorful than canola.  I had some pistachio oil in the refrigerator that I wanted to use up so that's what I tried (in the original proportions) and it was fabulous.  Yes, it's a fair amount of oil but it serves four people with some left over for another day.  By the way, walnut oil is completely delicious so it's worth buying - look for it with the other oils in your store.

Freeze-dried corn can typically be found in small bags in the produce section along with other dried fruits and vegetables.  It's a recent discovery for me and I love how it adds sweetness, color and crunch to a variety of recipes.  If you don't feel like buying it, just leave it out and the dish was still be delicious.

All in all I was very pleased with the flavor, presentation and healthy benefits of this meal.  I knew it was a winner when The Lawyer asked if there was more kale to have as a salad the next day.  And by the way, it did make a great lunch salad with just the kale, vinaigrette, a little leftover flaked salmon and a few leftover sliced almonds.

print recipe
Grilled Salmon with Kale and Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 c walnut oil or canola oil
1/4 c maple syrup
1/4 c cider vinegar
2 T mustard
1 T soy sauce
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

For the salmon and kale
4 (6 oz) pieces salmon
Olive oil, for brushing salmon
Salt and pepper
1 bunch Tuscan (Lacinato) kale, leaves stripped off steams and thinly sliced
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup dried currants or raisins
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
½ cup freeze-dried corn

Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Preheat a grill to medium high.  Brush the salmon with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place the salmon skin-side-down on the grill and grill for 4 minutes, then flip and grill for 2 ½ minutes more until nicely grill-marked.    Remove from the grill.

Toss the kale, cranberries, and currants with just enough vinaigrette to moisten, then divide among four plates or shallow bowls. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds and dried corn.  Remove the skin from the salmon and place one piece on top of each plate.  Serve, passing the remaining vinaigrette on the side for drizzling over the salmon.

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