Saturday, April 8, 2017

Salmon Orzo Salad with Lemon and Pea Pods

Last Year's Post: Manchego Cheese Quesadilla with Pepper Jam
Two Years Ago:   Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Radicchio Panini

Hello, springtime!  OK, it might not exactly feel like spring where you live, but it's definitely April and that means flowers are right around the corner followed closely by shorts and swimsuits.  Time to put away the lasagna pan and lighten up.  Nothing says spring more to me than lemon, peas and radishes in a light salad with heart-healthy salmon.  If orzo isn't your thing you could substitute rice, quinoa, farro or even a bunch of greens instead.

The reason the recipe calls for pan-searing the salmon is because I like the crispy top crust both for color and texture in the salad.  If you prefer to grill or roast the salmon it would be just as good.

The question has come up (at least in my mind) whether this salad could be made in advance and served cold.  The answer is yes  - I had some salad left over that was just as good the next day, although the orzo absorbed the dressing so it needed some freshening with a squeeze of lemon and a few additional dill sprigs.

Salmon Orzo Salad with Lemon and Pea Pods
Serves 4

½ lb. fresh salmon filet
1 tablespoon soy sauce
8 ounces orzo pasta
1 cup snow peas, ends trimmed and cut in half
½ cup frozen peas
1/8 cup shallot, minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons apple cider or white vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
¼ cup radishes, thinly sliced
½ cup radish sprouts
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
Fresh dill sprigs, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for garnish

Rub the salmon with the soy sauce and marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for one hour.  Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the salmon, skin side down, to the dry skillet and cook untouched for two minutes.  Carefully turn the salmon over and lower the heat to medium.  Cook an additional 2 minutes, peel the skin off the salmon and flip over.  Lower the heat to medium-low and cover; cook for an additional 5-6 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 145d.  Cool completely. Break into pieces.

Heat a large pot of salted water. Cook orzo as directed on package to desired doneness, adding pea pods and frozen peas during last 30 seconds of cooking. Drain pasta and peas; rinse in cold water.

In a small bowl, whisk shallot, dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil.

In large bowl, toss orzo, pea pods, peas, spinach, radishes and radish sprouts with vinaigrette until coated. Add salmon and toss gently to combine.  Serve, sprinkled with almonds and garnished with dill sprigs and lemon wedges.

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