Steamed salmon with spinach mash

P1010661

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

The Ingredients: for 2 persons

  • 2 pieces of salmon
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cube of fish stock
  • 1 cube of meat stock
  • 6 medium sized potatoes
  • 500 g baby spinach
  • 1 clove garlic
  • olive oil
  • milk
  • nutmeg
  • salt & pepper

The work:

First prep the salmon dish.

Take an oven dish and lay the pieces of salmon in it. Peel the onion and cut it in fine rings. Peel the carrot and cut in in fine slices. Sprinkle the onion and carrots over the fish. Season with salt & pepper. Put a small bit of water in the oven dish and sprinkle the crumbled fish stock in the water around the fish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap. Puncture some holes in it with a knife. Voilà, the fish dish is ready, but we wait until our potatoes are almost done to cook it in the micro wave.

Peel the potatoes and cook them in water with salt, as you normally would do before making a mash.

In the meantime, peal the garlic and stab it to the end of a fork. Heat some olive oil or margarine in a large cooking pot and stir with the garlic clove in it while the oil is heating up, the oil will take the aroma of the garlic. Once the oil is hot, put in the rinced baby spinach leaves and stir from time to time. Season with pepper and salt and crumble some meat stock over the spinach. About 10-15 minutes later your spinach will be done.

Put the salmon in the micro wave for 5 minutes. Take out the oven dish and tilt it in different directions to mix the crumbled stock with the water. Put the fish back in the micro wave for another 5 minutes. Check from time to time how far the fish is cooked and add some more minutes each time if you are afraid to overcook  it. In my experience the fish is exactly right as soon as you start smelling the aroma in the kitchen.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and make a mash. Add the cooked spinach. Add some extra seasoning like nutmeg and optionally some milk if the mash is too dry. This depends on how much fluid was in the spinach.

The tip:

Yes, there is neither butter nor cream used here. The whole idea is make a light meal which is tasty. But if you must you can make the mash richer.

The vegetables with the fish are there for seasoning really, since the cooking time is often too short to have them ‘well-done’. I tend to add onion and a carrot because I always have some in the house, but plenty alternatives are possible to add extra taste to the fish like tomatoes, rosemary, lemon, etc. Feel free to share your favourite flavors. You can  also add some white wine instead of water. But hey, this post was supposed to inspire your light calorie cooking.

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Pasta dish

pateschotel

Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 1h30 minutes

Don’t be misled by the ‘simple’ name, this is anything but a simple dish.

The Ingredients: for 4 persons

  • 500 g minced meat (half beef, half pork)
  • 6 tomatoes (at least 500 g)
  • 1 onion
  • 2,5 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 4 tbsp. flower
  • fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ l milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
  • 75 g grated cheese (Emmentaler)
  • 250 g pasta (fusilli)
  • salt & pepper

The work:

Cook the pasta al dente in lightly salted water. Follow the timing instructions on the package. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to avoid that the pasta sticks.

Cut the onions into small blocks. Peal the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Cut the tomatoes in large portions.

Preheat the oven at 225°C.

Melt the butter in a pot, don’t let it brown, and mix with the flower. Add a third of the milk and bring this to a cooking point while stirring slowly. At the cooking point, add extra milk to get the correct sauce density. Turn down the heat a bit. Add the thyme and the bay leaf and cook the sauce gently for about 15 minutes. Keep your eye on the ballgame. Sauce on a milk base easily sticks to the pan or overflows, so don’t stop stirring, don’t leave.

Sieve the sauce and mix the grated cheese with the sauce.

Take an oven dish and put in a layer of pasta. Distribute the onion, the tomato and the minced meat on top. Season with salt and pepper. If the dish is not full yet, add the rest of the pasta and cover it with sauce. In case you have some leftover grated cheese you can sprinkle that on top.

The tip:

There are many different pasta kinds you can use for this: fusilli, spirelli, farfalle, penne, macaroni,…

We often replace the fresh tomatoes by canned tomatoes to save time and it has little effect on the end result.

All together this dish takes quite a while to cook. You wonder if it is really necessary to stir in that sauce for 15 long minutes. Believe me, it is exactly that herb-flavoured cheese sauce which lifts this dish from being ordinary to being incredibly fantastic.

If you do make the effort of cooking this on your busy week day, bear in mind that you can easily prepare some extra dishes and put them uncooked in the freezer for later use.

The secret:

I will confess that this recipe comes from a very old ­ actually our very first ­ cook book which came for free with our very first micro wave after we just got married. Because this is a recipe I never came across ever again I felt I should make an exception to my rule not to blog recipes from other cooks. Just to make sure it gets some extra exposure. I can’t leave it to disintegrate with the book.

Weekday broccoli with cheese

broccoli_2

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

The Ingredients: for 3 persons

  • 1 broccoli
  • ZIZ light cheese (Kraft foods, melt cheese)
  • 0.5 cube vegetable stock (or chicken)
  • salt & pepper

The work:

Steam the broccoli for about 25 minutes. I do this the old way, using a simple steaming pot and i put a half cube of stock in the boiling water, it makes the steamed vegetables more tasteful. If you like your vegetables crispy, then make sure not to overcook them at this stage since they still have to go in the oven for a short while.

When the broccoli is ready, take them out of the steamer and let cool them down in an oven dish. This recipe is ideal as a side dish when you have guests, since you can prepare it and just shove it in the oven when you need to serve.

Pre heat the oven at 180°C.

broccoli_1Add some salt and pepper and cover the broccoli with slices of the cheese. I use the light cheese to have maximum taste with minimum calories. Of course you can experiment with even more tasteful and less calorie friendly regular cheeses like Cheddar or Gouda.
Put the dish into the oven for about 10-15 minutes. It is best to keep an eye on it, you want the broccoli warm, but the cheese still visible as a layer covering the broccoli. When you leave it all in the oven to long, the cheese will have melted completely and have sunk between the broccolis. It may taste the same; it is definitely not as good looking.

The tip:

Important is to let the broccoli cool down before you add the cheese on top of it. If you put the cheese when the broccoli is still warm, it will be melted before you can put the broccoli into the oven.

The secret:

This recipe developed out of the leanness of the fridge during one of my ‘poor’ weeks… the very odd week when I do make an effort to cut some calories.

It’s so simple, yet so good!