Salmon Pasta Salad Revisited

Every July 4th my mother would make what she called simply, salmon salad. It was a mayonnaise based pasta salad with canned salmon, crab and baby shrimp. I made one and put it on this site last year or the year before with a vinaigrette base. So now that I’ve found a vegan mayonnaise I can eat that doesn’t contain eggs or soybean oil, I decided this year to update this salad because it’s one of my very favorites. My mother always served blueberry muffins with it but I figure who needs all those added carbs! so I just serve the salad with the addition of more vegetables than just the onion and celery my mom used. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do. By the way, feel free to use a 16 ounce can of salmon, cleaned if you don’t have access to the fresh!

Bring an 8 quart pot of water to the boil, salt the water generously and add:

4 ounces gluten-free shells (you can use elbows or any other shape but my mom always used shells)*

When the pasta is about 2 minutes from being cooked add:

1-2 cups frozen peas (unless you have wonderful fresh peas!)

When the pasta is cooked, drain into a large colander and rinse with cold water until cool. I will often fill the pot I cooked the pasta in with cold water (it takes several times before the pot cools off) and then place the colander in it after I’ve sprayed the heck out of the pasta with cold water. I leave it in there for only about 5 minutes before it’s cool enough to add to the mixing bowl. While the pasta boils (or the water), heat an 8″ skillet over medium high heat with:

1 teaspoon olive oil

Add skin side down:

8 ounce (or so) salmon filet

Cook the salmon for 3-5 minutes on the skin side and then turn. Note, if it doesn’t come right off the skillet, it’s not ready to turn. Cook on the meat side for 2-3 minutes and then flip again to the skin side. Cover and reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of your salmon steak. Remove from heat, uncover and move the salmon to a plate to cool. When cool, flake with a fork and add to the vegetable mixture.

In a large mixing bowl (I actually use a 2 gallon plastic container), combine:

3-5 scallions, sliced on the diagonal

5-6 stalks of celery diced

1 medium, peeled and diced (and I also seed mine) cucumber

8 ounces of crab meat

8 ounces of baby shrimp (if you can eat them, I can’t so I leave them out)

In a smaller bowl combine:

1 1/2 cups vegan mayonnaise

2 tablespoons dill pickle relish

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 tablespoon lemon juice

NOTE: I had a half bag of snow peas left over from the Moo Goo Guy Pan so I destringed them, cut them in half (or thirds if really long) and added them with the peas to the boil – delicious! Some diced jicama or water chestnuts would also go very nicely in this salad.

Whisk to combine and then pour over the vegetables after adding the pasta, peas, and fish in the mixing bowl. Stir to combine and then cool in the refrigerator for about an hour to let all the flavors meld. I like to serve it over some lettuce or as I did now, pea shoots. Serves 4-6.

*Whole Foods makes wonderful organic chickpea shells. Only 37 grams of carbs per serving which is quite good for pasta, along with 21 grams of protein. And note, we only use 2 servings instead of 4 so it cuts down on the total carbs per serving even more.

Stuffed Turkey Rolls

I found some turkey breast filets at the store the other day and wondered how to cook them without drying them out. Turkey breast filets can be either too thick or too thin; these were very thin. I used to make a turkey “napoleon” for my husband and I wondered if it would work as a roll. It not only worked, but they turned out delicious. The stuffing can be made ahead and is enough to stuff 6-8 turkey filets depending on their size. Of course, any stuffing recipe will work but I made my sausage and mushroom stuffing, adding half a pear for a little sweetness and it turned out succulent. The stuffing is the most time consuming part of this process.

Serves 3-4.

To make the stuffing, over medium a 10″ skillet, heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When hot, add:

1/2 medium onion, finely diced

2 small stalks celery, finely diced

1/2 medium pear, minced

3 ounces mushrooms, finely diced

Stir and reduce heat to medium low. Cover the vegetables for about 5 minutes until they are tender. While they cook, break up 2 slices of bread (I used the quick oat bread recipe on this blog). If using a different bread, be sure to crumble into small pieces. When the vegetables are soft, add them along with the oil to the bread crumbs, mix thoroughly. To the skillet add:

4 ounces sausage, any kind your family likes

Cook thoroughly, breaking it up as it cooks into a “minced” meat consistency (like hamburger). This should only take a couple of minutes. Add to the stuffing mix along with:

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 to 1 teaspoon of ground sage

If your turkey filets are square, you’ve hit the jackpot! Mine were triangular. Add about 1/3 cup of the stuffing on the longer side of the filet and pull the smaller side over it. I used bacon to wrap and hold the roll but I would suggest using porchetta instead because the bacon had too strong a flavor and almost overpowered the turkey roll.

Once rolled and wrapped, secured with toothpicks if necessary, place in a 10″ skillet with a little oil so that the bacon doesn’t stick. Cook over medium heat for approximately 2-3 minutes per side, getting all four sides.

While the turkey rolls are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in another 10″ skillet. When hot add:

3 ounces of mushrooms

1/2 medium pear, minced

Cook for a 2-4 minutes, salt and pepper to taste and add:

2 tablespoons all purpose gluten-free flour

Stir to combine so that all the oil is floured and cook over medium low heat for 1-2 minutes to cook the flour. Add:

1 1/2 to 2 cups turkey (or chicken) stock

Stir to combine and stir constantly until thickened into a gravy.

Serve the turkey rolls over mashed potatoes (or rice), adding gravy to each of the servings. Enjoy!

Turkey Hash

Hash is a favorite of mine. It’s so tasty and so versatile. Any meat, any vegetables can be used in hash. It’s not just corned beef hash anymore! After I made the roasted turkey breast the other day, I had over half the breast left (since there’s only one of me and the recipe served 4). I’d already cooked plenty of sweet potatoes (but there’s nothing wrong with cooking more!) and had some rainbow carrots in the freezer. Hash is so easy to make, hope you’ll give it a try.

I served this with the leftover turkey pear gravy! Oh so delicious

In a large skillet (12″), heat over medium heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When shimmering add:

1 medium onion diced

3-5 celery stalks, diced

When the onion is becoming translucent, add:

2 cups diced cooked sweet potato (or white if you prefer)

1 cup cooked rainbow carrots, sliced or diced

2 not quite ripe pears, peeled and diced

1-2 teaspoons minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix to combine and continue cooking until sweet potatoes start to brown. Stir in:

2-3 cups cooked turkey, diced

Lower heat to medium low and cover. Cook for approximately 2-3 minutes until turkey is hot. Remove lid, stir. At this point, if eggs are allowed in your diet, crack 4 eggs on top of the hash, cover and cook until eggs are ready. Serves 4.

Creamy Chicken Stew with Asparagus

This is a hearty dish that will warm you through and through on those colder days. Perhaps that’s what made me think of it this past week here in Minnesota – after a wonderful few weeks in the 50s and 60s, it suddenly fell back into the 30s! Not difficult to make and so delicious to eat. Feel free to change up the vegetables to ones your family prefers.

Cut vegetables:

1 medium onion, diced

3 stalks of celery, diced

2 medium to large carrots sliced

1 large parsnip (or 2-3 smaller ones), sliced and/or diced depending on size

1 medium purple top turnip, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 tablespoon pre-minced garlic)*

In a medium Dutch oven, heat:

2 tablespoons oil

Add the diced onions and celery and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables along with:

3 cups chicken stock

Simmer over medium low heat until the vegetables are cooked through. Add:

2 cups cooked and diced chicken

1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-2 inch pieces**

1 cup frozen green peas

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

Simmer until chicken is heated through and the peas are cooked, 5-6 minutes, then increase heat to medium and add slurry made with:

3 tablespoons gluten-free all purpose flour

1 cup non-dairy milk (any milk EXCEPT soy)

Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Serve over pasta, mashed potatoes, or rice or even as a filling for a chicken pot pie. Makes 6 servings.

*This stew can be “summerized” by using zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, mushrooms instead of the winter root vegetables.

**If preferred, the asparagus can be cooked whole in a skillet until tender and served alongside the stew. If the stalks are quite thick, peal the asparagus before cutting into pieces.

Stuffed Tomatoes

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a couple of days. The other main activity in my life is learning the craft of screenwriting and I’ve been at a virtual screenwriting summit all weekend. Just ending today so I have a little time to put up an old recipe of mine that I learned from a friend who was a caterer. Very easy to do and can be used as an appetizer or an entrée. Stuffed tomatoes can be stuffed with any kind of salad you like, egg, chicken, ham, etc. Tip from my caterer friend, use your food processor to process the meat into a well grated product so that it’s easier to stuff into the tomato, especially if you’re using very small tomatoes. It can also be put into a piping bag to fill the tomatoes. Use any size of tomato you like. I prefer to use Campari tomatoes, large for smaller tomatoes and large enough for 2 bites, a good size for an appetizer. If I’m making this as an entrée, a larger tomato is of course needed, like a Big Boy.

If you want the tomatoes to sit neatly on the plate, you can cut a very small amount from the bottom. Just be careful not to cut through the meat of the tomato.

Begin by making the salad. Put into the bowl of a food processor:

1 pound of ham, 1 large chicken breast, 8-10 hard boiled eggs, etc., cut into large chunks

1 large celery stalk, cut into large chunks

2 tablespoons dill relish (this is a sugar free relish; for a sweeter salad, add a little sweetener rather than use a sweet relish which contains sugar)

1-2 scallions, cut into large pieces

Blend until the meat is in small pieces. Add:

1/2 to 2/3 cup vegan mayonnaise

Blend until well mixed, be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl before finishing processing. Remove the completed salad to either a piping bag or a medium bowl.

For the tomatoes:

16-20 Campari tomatoes

36-48 grape tomatoes

or 2-4 large tomatoes

Begin by washing the tomatoes.* Then cut off the very top of the stem end of the tomatoes. Then, using a small sharp knife, cut around the inside of the tomato next to the meat and use a sharp ended spoon to scoop out the seeds and veins of the tomato.

Set the tomatoes on a paper towel, upside down so that some of the moisture drains out. Leave for about 5 minutes before filling. Place on a plate, garnish with scallions, chives, or thin slices of dill pickle.

*I hope all my followers know that you should NEVER store tomatoes in the refrigerator! Take this from a girl who grew up on a farm. Refrigerating them steals their flavor and also toughens the skins. Also when buying tomatoes, smell them. If they don’t smell like a tomato, they won’t taste like a tomato. Same with most fruit that has a distinct odor like strawberries.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Salad

Every once in a great while I buy a rotisserie chicken at the store because, like everyone, I just don’t feel like cooking. I bought one several days ago and like so often happens, found I couldn’t eat all of it before it would spoil. In those cases, I usually dice up the chicken breasts and freeze them for later use. It’s amazing, I don’t understand why, but when cooked chicken is frozen, it makes such a better chicken salad than fresh chicken. Perhaps because it’s really cold? Anyway, try putting the diced chicken in the freezer for about an hour before making the salad and let me know if you agree with me that it has a better taste.

For the salad:

2 rotisserie chicken breasts diced

3-4 celery stalks, diced

2 tablespoons dill relish (or up to 1/4 cup depending on taste)

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, or diced jicama, or diced water chestnuts (just looking for more crunch)

1 avocado, diced

For the dressing:

1/2 to 3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (depending on how much chicken there is)

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon herbamare (herbed salt)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ground black (or white) pepper

2 tablespoons honey (or agave or coconut nectar, or date syrup)

Mix all the ingredients and serve with lettuce. Garnish, if you have some, which I didn’t, with chives or scallions. Also, it’s delicious with sliced fresh strawberries or tomatoes. Makes 4 servings.