Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Smoked Salmon Salad with Rice, Red Quinoa, and Toasted Pecans

Alright folks, are you ready for this? Two smoked salmon recipes in a row! This is still a relatively novel ingredient to me, as I used to assume it was gross (I know better now). I actually have a very distinct memory of my first meal in France as study abroad student. My French was shaky at best, but I recognized the word "saumon" on the menu. I ordered it, assuming it was a safe option.  When a salad arrived generously draped with what, to me, looked like raw fish, I think my face turned paper-white. I smiled weakly and thanked the waiter, but I was too scared to eat it. Thankfully my gallant friend Joseph came to my rescue, kindly offering to trade plates with me. Now 8 years later, this Smoked Salmon, Rice, and Red Quinoa Salad is one that I'm not allowing anyone to eat for me! I'll take care of my portion all by myself, thank you very much!
Serves 2-3

3 celery stalks, diced
1 Tb butter
1 cup water
1/2 chicken bouillon cube (optional)
1/2 cup rice and red quinoa blend (I used Rice Select Royal Blend with light brown rice, red quinoa, and freekeh)
4 oz smoked salmon, broken into large flakes (I used Matt's Amazing Smokehouse Ragin' Cajun)
2 Tb lemon
3 Tb olive oil
salt and pepper
handful of pecans, roughly chopped

Heat a medium-size sauce pan over medium heat. When hot, add 1 Tb of butter.

Once the butter is melted and hot, toss in the diced celery, and let cook for about 3-4 minutes until it begins to soften.

In the same pan, cook your grains according to the package directions. For mine, I heated the water in the microwave until almost boiling. I then poured the water into the pan along with the rice blend and the half chicken bouillon cube.

Raise the heat to high, and once the water is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook according to the package directions, until done and the water is absorbed (about 18 minutes for me).

Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice with a pinch of salt until it dissolves. Add a few cracks of freshly ground black pepper; then slowly whisk in the olive oil to form the dressing.

To toast the pecans, heat a small skillet over medium heat with no butter or oil. When hot, toss in the pecans and toast, stirring frequently, for a few minutes until warm and fragrant. When toasted, remove from the pan.

When there's about 1 minute of cooking time left on the rice, add in the flaked smoked salmon and about half of the dressing, stirring to combine. Re-cover the pan, and once the minute is up, remove from the heat and let sit for about 5 minutes. 

Remove the lid, fluff the rice mixture with a fork, and taste. Add the pecans and more dressing if desired (I used almost all of mine), stir to combine, and serve immediately.

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