A Fresh Summer Recipe

I have been publishing a lot of blogs on national politics and housing the last several months.  Lost in the process was some good food recipes to share with my readers.  After all, I am a foodie at heart!

One of my favorite places to find new dishes to make is the Big Oven.  I first found this treasure trove of information as an App for my iPad.  There is also a website: www.bigoven.com that can be accessed by any computer.  It is free to join!

I prepared the two dishes below for the first time about a month or so ago.  I made some changes to both recipes as is my custom but both are verbatim from the Big Oven with the exception of my comments at the beginning.  Each are good healthy meals that can be served year round and can be combined for one meal as I did.

Wine pairings could range from a good Pinot Noir, to your favorite Chardonnay, an Alsatian Riesling, or even a good Pinot Gris.


Recipe: Pan-seared Salmon with Fresh Tomato-Basil Relish

I strongly recommend that you use wild salmon for this or any dish.  Farm raised salmon is fed food with orange dye and it just does not have the same taste as its wild brethren.  The two changes I made to the basic recipe below are (1) I baked the salmon at 350 for about ten minutes or until its down instead of sauteing in a pan with oil and (2) I used a favorite a favorite Cajun spice instead of ground cumin.  No doubt the fish will taste great with either, but I just wanted a little spice to contrast with the tomato-based relish.  I also made the relish well in advance so the spices and fresh herbs could really mix together.

If you do not like salmon, I am certain you can substitute sole, Arctic char, haddock, and fresh walleye.


2 Tomato chopped
1/4 cup Basil fresh, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1 clove Garlic minced
3/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper black, coarsely ground
2 6-oz Salmon filet
1/4 teaspoon Cumin ground
1/2 teaspoon olive oil


To make the relish, mix the tomatoes, basil, vinegar, garlic, 1/2 tsp of the salt and 1/8 tsp of the pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Sprinkle both sides of the salon with the cumin and the remaining 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the salmon, skin-side up and cook about 4 minutes. Turn over the salmon and cook about 1 minute. Reduce the heat and cook covered, until the salmon is just opaque in the center.

Transfer the salmon to a plate and add the relish to the skillet.  Increase the heat and cook until the relish is heated through.  Once heated move it aside and return the salmon just long enough to reheat it if needed.

Place the salmon on serving plates and spoon the relish over the salmon to serve.

Quinoa with Mushrooms and Spinach

The only change I made to this lovely recipe is that I only added slightly more than half of the spinach recommended.  I simply did not believe that ten ounces of raw spinach would wilt sufficiently and mix in with the quinoa.  My assessment was wrong! I still recommend only using three-fourths of the bag of spinach but we all have our preferences.

A word about quinoa. Quinoa is a fantastically nutritious grain.  However, if you are used to cooking rice be prepared for some differences.  Unlike rice, quinoa absorbs water differently. When fully cooked (and please follow the suggested cooking times) it appears to be translucent and looks nothing like what comes out of the box.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup white wine
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (8 ounce) package sliced mushrooms
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 (10 ounce) bag washed spinach leaves
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (Feta cheese is a great substitute)


Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in quinoa until well blended.

Pour in 1/2 cup white wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed by the quinoa, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1 3/4 cups chicken broth, 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, and 1 teaspoon chopped thyme. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Pour in 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup white wine, 1/4 cup chicken stock, and 1 teaspoon chopped thyme.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes.

Once the quinoa has cooked, stir in the mushroom mixture, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove quinoa from the heat and stir in spinach leaves, which will wilt.  Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese.

Author: The Blue Route