blackened salmon with mango & avocado salsa

birds eye view

Apparently I’m really into salmon lately.  So, I apologize if you’re not a salmon fan and all I’ve posted the last few times are salmon recipes. I promise to mix it up in the next post!

Ironically, this recipe was actually an attempt to mix it up.  Usually, I end up doing one of two things when I cook a salmon fillet: roast with teriyaki sauce or roast with some fresh herbs, lemon, and white wine.  Both are delicious, but I wanted something different so I took to the Internet and came across a few blackened salmon recipes.  I immediately thought of Cape Cod and these delicious fish tacos I once had for dinner at the Island Merchant with jerked cod, mango salsa, and guacamole.  Ahhh, take me back to the Cape!

DSC_0486           DSC_0515

Again, in an effort to make something different I decided on polenta as the side rather than the same old roasted potatoes or quinoa that usually accompany the fish. Polenta on it’s own is pretty bland so I found a recipe that included sharp cheddar cheese to liven it up. Altogether, this meal definitely satisfied the need to change up my typical salmon and side dish recipes!

mango and avocado salsa


For the salmon:

  • ~ 2 lbs. wild salmon fillets, boneless, skin removed
  • 1 tbsp. melted butter*
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cracked pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • olive oil

For the salsa:

  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 3 scallions, white part only, thinly sliced
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tbsp. parsley (or cilantro if you’d like)
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the polenta:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste


First make the salsa by combining all ingredients in a bowl. I refrigerated until ready to serve.

To start the polenta, bring the milk and 2 cups of water to a boil. Whisk in the cornmeal and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the salmon.  Combine all spices, butter, and garlic in a bowl.  Rub the spice mixture on both sides of the salmon.  In a large skillet, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat.  Once hot, add salmon.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until the spices “blacken” and the center is opaque.

Once polenta is done simmering, add more water if it is too thick.  Then add butter, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve salmon over the polenta and top with the mango and avocado salsa!

*I do have one note about the recipe that I will most likely change next time I make it: the butter in the spice mixture made it hard to evenly coat the salmon. I will probably omit the butter and do a completely dry rub to get a more even, crispy coat.

Recipe(s) adapted from: Against All Grain & Shared Appetite

How I eat it: with a little bit of everything in each bite! And a nice fresh salad on the side.

By the way, I revisited this yummy french yogurt cake recipe for dessert tonight. Take a look and enjoy 🙂

 the dish



salmon burgers with sriracha aioli

salmon burger

Hi! You are probably used to my typical few-month hiatus from blogging. But these past few months have been a little different for me as some major life changes have occurred: I’ve graduated with my Master’s from NYU, decided to switch over from NYU and attend Stony Brook for my PhD in Pharmacology, adopted a precious little 10-month old kitty named Samson, and just today I bought myself a brand spankin’ new car (still can’t believe this one!).  It’s so crazy that so many goals I’ve set for myself the past two years are actually starting to be fulfilled and I’m super excited, but also nervous about this new chapter of my life.

Starting with this post, I’m hoping to at least have one month of consistent blogging.  I just graduated last week and I have one month of recovery until I start my new program at Stony Brook.  In this time, I’m hoping to cook, cook, bake, and cook some more.  Our town’s farmer’s market is also up and running again since this past weekend and I can’t wait to get my hands on some fresh produce, seafood, and bakery goods — I’m feeling inspired and ready to go!

This recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray’s “BLAST Burger” recipe.  I’ve actually never had a salmon burger and they’ve really never appealed to me, but cooking shows can always suck me in and make anything look absolutely amazing.  Not only did this meal look delicious, it truly was! I was afraid of the burgers being dried out or lacking flavor, but they were extremely yummy just on there own. And how can you really go wrong by adding bacon and sriracha to the mix!?

Even though the burgers weren’t grilled (which they probably would be even more delicious grilled), it was a great recipe to kick off the summer!  We served it with some veggie fries, which included yams, parsnips, turnips, and zucchini.

Ingredients (serves 4)DSC_0409

  • 1.5 lbs. salmon fillet, skin removed, cut into chunks
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4-cup chopped fresh dill, parsley, and chives
  • 1 large clove garlic, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • canola oil
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 small white onion, sliced
  • 3/4-cup mayo
  • 3 tbsp. srirarcha
  • 4 burger buns


Preheat oven to 375 F and bake bacon on slotted pan until crisp.

Place fish in food processor and pulse chop (this actually wasn’t as gross as it sounded to me).  Remove to a bowl and combine with egg, herbs, garlic, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, and salt and pepper.  Divide into four sections and form four patties.

In large nonstick skillet coated with canola oil, cook patties over medium-high heat.  This will take about 4-5 minutes on each side for an opaque center.

Meanwhile, combine mayo with sriracha sauce* and prepare other sides. Dress avocado with lemon juice to prevent oxidation/browning.

Place fish on bottom of burger bun and top with bacon, avocado, tomato, and onion (and/or any other burger toppings you prefer!)  Coat top of bun with sriracha aioli.  Press down and enjoy!

DSC_0371                        DSC_0412

Recipe adapted from: Rachael Ray

How I eat it: with a lot of spicy sriracha aioli!

*If you are not a fan of spicy, I would use only 2 tbsp. of sriracha sauce when you make the aioli.  Personally, I like the kick, but it’s not for everyone!


 I hope you all try and enjoy this, and hopefully there will be more recipes coming your way by next week!

For now, you can take a look at my 2 new pride and joys…





salmon with herbed butter & stewed lentils

For the past few weeks my family has been on a pretty intense health kick.  Now, I like to eat fresh, non-processed foods, however, the way in which I prepare them is not always considered “healthy”.  Although not purely wholesome considering the slab of butter on the salmon and the bacon in the stewed lentils, the meal is still nutritious.  Salmon is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids and lentils also provide protein as well as fiber and iron.  One night it was just my mom and I for dinner so we decided to make this somewhat healthful (and somewhat gourmet) meal after having Anne Burrell make it look totally delicious on her show Secrets of a Restaurant Chef.  Aside from Ina Garten, who is just impossible to top, Anne Burrell is one of my favorite food network stars.  I feel that her dishes are authentic and you can tell by her tips that she is so knowledgeable about food and flavors.  I found this dinner to be completely satisfying, yet not make me feel bad about myself afterwards since there is significant nutritional value.

This is really two separate recipes but I decided it might be helpful to write the “Method” exactly how I prepared this entire meal in the kitchen. My timing seemed to work nicely!

Salmon with Herbed Butter & Stewed Lentils

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the salmon:

  • 1 lb. salmon fillet, skin on
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Meyer lemon

For the herbed butter:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1/2 bunch dill
  • 1/2 bunch thyme
  • 1 small clove garlic, smashed and finely chopped

To cook the lentils:

  • 3/4 cup green lentils
  • 1/4 fennel bulb
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1/2 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 small bundle thyme
  • Salt

To prepare stewed lentils:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 slices bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 small carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and finely chopped


In a large sauce pan combine all ingredients to cook the lentils, except salt. Add water to the pot until it completely covers all the ingredients. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are soft.

While the lentils are cooking prepare the herbed butter. Combine all the ingredients for the herbed butter in a small bowl. Smash ingredients with a fork until everything is well mixed.

Also, while lentils are cooking pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees and prepare the salmon by squeezing lemon juice on the fillet and seasoning with salt and pepper.

After the lentils have been simmering for ~30 minutes, remove pot from heat and add salt. Let the lentils sit in the salty water for 10 minutes so they absorb the seasoned water. Then, remove the fennel, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme.  Before draining the lentils from the water, reserve one cup of the cooking water.

At this point, place salmon in the oven for about 15 minutes. If not done to your liking after the 15 minutes, I like to broil for a minute or two.

To prepare stewed lentils, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add bacon and cook for 3-5 minutes, until browned.  Add onions and saute until they become soft, not browned (another 5 minutes).  Add fennel, carrot, and celery and saute for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Then, add the cooked lentils and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water and cook until the liquid has reduced.

To serve lay the salmon on top of a bed of lentils and top with the herbed butter.

Recipe adapted from Anne Burrell’s Secrets of a Restaurant Chef

How I eat it: with a nice big glass of pinot noir

Although the recipe may seem long and involved, it really was an easy meal to make.  Because baking salmon is not so involved you are able to concentrate on the lentils.  The flavors work so well together and I love that it really spiced up lentils which I always assumed to be a boring, tasteless side dish.

My mom and I are planning to make this dish again next week as a welcome home dinner for my grandparents who have been in Florida for the past month. I’ll let you know if it’s just as good as the last time!