Nine Days

Roasted Salmon with Chive Flowers

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On a recent trip to an Asian supermarket in Queens, New York, I bought a lot of interesting vegetables. Greens -- Chinese broccoli, bok choy, yau choy and cabbage -- and some herbs, including chive flowers (pictured above). 

Chive flowers are just like ordinary chives, except they've been allowed to mature and produce an actual flower. As a result, they are thicker and have a somewhat bolder flavor than regular chives.

I used them to season salmon one night. This dish couldn't be simpler. Takes about 5 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to cook.

How easy is that!

Roasted Salmon with Chive Flowers

  • 24-32 ounces salmon
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the salmon in a baking dish. Mix the mustard, olive oil and garlic together in a small bowl and spread this mixture evenly on top of the fish. Sprinkle with the chives, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, or until the fish is cooked to desired doneness and the top is crispy-browned. 

Makes 4 servings

Eggplant, Mashed Potato and Portobello Gratin

Whenever I need a meatless or dairy meal -- for a meatless Monday (or any other day of the week when I am not in the mood for meat), or for during the Nine Days, or a Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast, or during Passover -- this is one of the recipes I turn to. It's filling enough for dinner (served with a salad) yet not heavy.

Another benefit? Set it up ahead and bake just before you need it.

I change the recipe occasionally, because -- why not! This dish is versatile. Sometimes I use zucchini instead of or together with eggplant. Sometimes I add feta cheese or a layer of cooked kale or spinach or some cooked carrots. But basically this is it.

 

Eggplant, Mashed Potato and Portobello gratin

  • 2 large Yukon gold potatoes
  • 3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium eggplant (or 2 medium zucchini)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large Portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven broiler or outdoor grill. Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks and cook them in simmering water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and mash them in the pot. Stir in 1/2 cup of Swiss cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and the eggs. Season lightly with salt and pepper. While the potatoes are cooking, trim the ends from the eggplant. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Brush both sides with the olive oil. Broil or grill the eggplant for 2-3 minutes per side or until softened and lightly browned. Place half the eggplant slices in a rectangular baking dish. Cover with the mashed potatoes. Layer the remaining eggplant on top. Slice the mushroom caps about 1/4-inch thick and place them on top of the eggplant. Slice the tomatoes and place them over the mushrooms. Scatter the basil and parsley on top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook for 45 minutes or until crispy and lightly browned on top.

Makes 8-10 servings

 

Meatless

We're big meat eaters here. During the summer, when the grill is open for business on our patio, we especially like beef ribs and veal chops, chicken and salmon.

But sometimes veg-only is on the menu. Maybe it's a meatless Monday -- or Tuesday, Wednesday -- whatever.

Or a fast during the Nine Days.

Or we are too tired to have a big, heavy meat meal.

Or it's just plain too hot to eat a heavy protein meal.

At those times we like a light, vegetarian, filling salad.

Like this one:

Tomato and Pasta Salad with Egg, Avocado and Blue Cheese

  • 1 cup elbow macaroni or other small shape pasta
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 avocado, peeled and cut into dice
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 3–4 tablespoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook the pasta until al dente, drain and place in a large bowl. Set aside. While the pasta is cooking, heat a half tablespoon of the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Beat the eggs together and pour them into the pan. Cook for about one minute, stirring slightly, turn the egg over and cook for 30-60 seconds or until the eggs are cooked through. Place on a cutting board and chop into pieces. Add to the pasta. Add the tomatoes, avocado, cheese, red onion and dill and toss ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining olive oil, 3 tablespoons vinegar and the mustard. Pour the dressing over the salad. Toss and let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. Taste for seasoning and add more vinegar if desired. Season to taste with pepper.

Makes 4 servings.