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.

Seafood Linguini

This is a dish I’ve been making for years, thought I’d already posted it but I don’t find. It’s a nice change of pace from pasta with a tomato-based sauce. And very easy to make, just be sure not to overcook the bay scallops and the calamari! Cooking the pasta takes a lot longer than making the sauce. And of course, feel free to use the seafood your family likes best. Makes 2 servings.

First, put on a pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Cook 1/2 box of gluten-free linguini according to package directions. Be sure to salt the water when it comes to a boil before adding the pasta.

When there’s about 5 minutes left on the pasta cooking time add to the boiling water:

1 cup green peas (thaw out if using frozen)

When the pasta is almost cooked, heat a medium saucepan with a high edge over medium heat. Add:

1/4 cup olive oil*

When the oil is hot, reduce heat to medium low and add:

1 finely diced scallion

When the scallion is translucent, add:

1/2 pound bay scallops

2 teaspoons minced garlic (for a more garlicy flavor, add more minced garlic)

1/2 pound small cleaned shrimp

Cook over medium low heat for about a minute or two, just until the shrimp are starting to color, then add:

1/2 pound cleaned and sliced calamari (I use both the parts, chop up the tentacles just a little into bit size pieces)

1 small can chopped or baby clams with the liquid**

Cook for about 30 seconds, the calamari don’t take very long at all to cook. They will change color just a little, especially the tentacles and the white slices will curl when they are cooked. Immediately take the pan off the heat, cover if the pasta isn’t quite ready.*** Add:

Juice of 1/2 lemon

When the pasta and peas are drained, put back into the pot and add the sauce. Cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes so that the pasta can absorb some of the sauce. Toss, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with minced chives.

*For a lower fat sauce, reduce the olive oil to 1 tablespoon and add 1/4 cup clam juice when you add the scallops and shrimp.

**Feel free to use fresh clams in the shell but add them before the scallops and cover the pan for about 2 minutes, or until they are just starting to open, before adding the remaining ingredients.

***To avoid overcooking the seafood, I generally cook the pasta before I make the sauce. Drain the pasta and rinse to remove residual starch. Place the strainer in the pot with a little water in the bottom, cover so that there’s a little steam to keep the pasta warm while you make the sauce, and place over a very low heat.

****I used chickpea pasta and I wouldn’t recommend it for this dish. I also only had spaghetti which is a little thick and didn’t play well with the seafood. Linguini is really the pasta to use.

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.

Chicken with Rice and Vegetables

I’ve been making rice with meat for years. It’s a convenient, easy way to stretch meat when you don’t have much of it and lots of people to feed. And a great way to use up extra vegetables because it’s an adaptable recipe where any combination of meat and vegetables works fine. The recipe feeds 6 or 4 generously.

This will be my last blog post for several weeks as I now need to concentrate on finishing my screenplay which was due today but I’m not happy with it yet so have to concentrate on that for the next few weeks.

In a Dutch oven, heat over medium high heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Add:

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder (if using breasts cut into large cubes

The object is to brown the meat and build flavor as well as sear the meat to keep all the juices in it. This should take about 5 minutes, 2 1/2 minutes per side. When browned, remove the chicken pieces to a plate and add to the pot:

1 medium onion diced

6-8 stalks of celery diced

1/2 cup chopped carrots (or grated)

1 cup diced mushrooms

Sauté for several minutes until onion starts to brown. Add:

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons sweet or spicy paprika depending on your taste

2-3 bay leaves

1 cup frozen or fresh peas (if using fresh, add with the rice)

2 cups chicken stock (or, if possible, 1 cup of white wine and 1 cup of stock)*

1 tablespoon date syrup or date sugar

Stir to mix and add the chicken back into the pot along with any juices that are on the plate. Cover and simmer on low heat for approximately a half hour until chicken is cooked. Stir in:

1 cup rice (I used a wild rice blend but feel free to use whatever rice you prefer)

Simmer covered until rice is cooked, stirring frequently to be sure rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. This should cook out all the liquid but if not, cook uncovered until most of the liquid is gone. If the rice isn’t cooked but the liquid is all absorbed, add 1/4 cup stock and continue cooking covered until rice is done. Remove the bay leaves, taste and add additional salt if needed. Serve garnished with chives.

*If using wine, deglaze the pan with the wine before adding the stock. This will cook off the alcohol.

Quick and Easy Vegetable Fried Rice

I made some Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken today (see my second blog of the day) and had a little substitute soy sauce left over so thought how about some fried rice. One of my favorite dishes, my mother always made it with bacon and eggs but of course, not able to do that anymore. So this one is fairly easy and quick if you use frozen brown rice (I love the packets from Trader Joe but many markets now carry frozen pre-cooked brown rice, just don’t use the instant – all the good stuff is gone and you’re left with just carbs!). Checked the freezer and the pantry and sure enough had a nice variety of vegetables so decided to give it a try. Feel free to substitute whatever vegetables you have in your pantry or freezer.

In a 10″ skillet heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Add:

1/2 medium onion sliced

3 stalks celery sliced on the bias

1/2 cup grated carrot

1 cup frozen French cut green beans

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 small can, drained bamboo shoots or sliced water chestnuts

Cook over medium heat for several minutes, stir once or twice to make sure vegetables cook evenly. Then turn heat down to medium low and cover. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add 1 1/2-2 cups cooked (or frozen) brown rice, stir to combine and cover to heat the rice another 3-5 minutes. Add:

2-4 tablespoons soy sauce substitute

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon red chili flakes or hot sauce (optional)

Stir in the sauce and the dish is ready!

Easy Creamed Turkey Soup with Vegetables (dairy-free, gluten-free)

This is an easy way to use up extra turkey (or chicken if you prefer). I didn’t have a lot of soups growing up because my father wasn’t a “soup” guy. But a long-time friend really loved creamed soups and when she was dying of cancer, one of the few things I could always get her to eat was my cream of chicken or turkey soup. So here’s the recipe revamped without the dairy or gluten.

In a medium size Dutch oven, heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Add:

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup diced turnip and/or parsnip

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon dry sage

Saute over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add:

2 tablespoons gluten-free all purpose flour and stir to mix and absorb all the fat. Let cook for several minutes before adding:

2 cups chicken or turkey STOCK (use stock not broth for a stronger flavor)

1 small bag of mixed vegetables (if you’re like me, remove the corn; wish someone would make mixed frozen vegetables without corn!)

Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer until vegetables are cooked, 10-15 minutes.

The soup will thicken while it simmers so stir occasionally so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

When the vegetables are cooked, add 1 cup of non-dairy milk and 1-2 cups of cooked brown rice. Heat and serve.

Variations if you don’t care for sage or tumeric, or just want a different taste!

Italian: Add 1 tablespoon diced garlic and substitute thyme, basil, marjoram, and/or rosemary for the sage and tumeric.

Indian: Use a peeled and diced sweet potato instead of the turnip/parsnip. Add 1 tablespoon of curry powder instead of the sage and before the flour. Curry powder needs to develop its flavor so cook it for a few minutes before adding the flour and stock.

Mushroom: Add a 6-8 ounce box of sliced baby bella or whatever mushrooms you love instead of the mixed vegetables.

Vegan: Use vegetable stock instead of chicken or turkey and delete the meat. Add a drained can of your favorite beans.

Spicy Lentil Vegetable Soup

(dairy free, gluten free, vegan, soy free) Makes approximately 8-10 servings

Lentil are very versatile, allowing cooks to be imaginative in using them. They seem to like being pairs with a wide variety of other foods and spices. Lentils were not something we had growing up, don’t know which parent didn’t like them but my mother never cooked us lentil soup even though both parents loved pea soup. In this recipe, I’ve paired my favorite vegetable soup with lentils. There are various other ingredients you can use in this recipe, depending on what your family likes. Here’s the basics along with some variations. You’ll need:

1 3/4 cups (an 8 oz package) of lentils, no specific type, I used a mixture of green, black and brown

6 cups of liquid (water, stock, etc., I used a combination of water and vegetable stock)

1 cup sliced carrots

1 large onion diced

3-6 stalks of celery diced for approximately 1 cup

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 cup sweet potato diced

1/2 cup regular potato diced

1 teaspoon curry powder (or 2 tablespoon curry paste)

1 cup diced tomatoes (I used canned)

1 cup frozen peas

1 medium turnip peeled and diced

Add the oil to the bottom of a heated Dutch oven. Add the curry powder and heat for about 15 seconds or until you can smell the curry, but be careful not to burn it. Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, celery, potatoes, and turnip. Once the onion is translucent, add the lentils and the liquid. You can also add the tomatoes at this point along with the peas. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for approximately 45 minutes or until lentils are tender (if you’re using sprouted lentils, they don’t take as long as regular lentils). If you use curry paste rather than powder, add it here. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend until you have the consistency you want. Add salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper). Serve.

Variations: Don’t want vegan – use chicken or turkey stock instead of the vegetable stock. You can also add some cooked sausage (either bulk or links cut into slices) or diced ham before serving.

If you don’t like potatoes, leave them out and add 1/2 cup quinoa when you add the lentils. This will also up the protein!

Don’t like curry? Leave it out and use 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon thyme instead. Or, you can add 2 teaspoons cumin seeds and 2 teaspoons turmeric. Add either of these when you add the lentils.

Want it more tomatoie? Stir in 1 small jar of tomato paste before you use the blender.

Don’t have an immersion blender? Cool the soup in the frig for about an hour and then blend in a standard blender. You might want to leave a couple of cups whole for texture.

Fish and Rice Stirfry (Dairy-free, Soy-free, Gluten-free)

I’m always looking for new ways to use fish.  Fish is one of those proteins that I love to eat but don’t often like to cook.  This is a quick recipe that really highlights flavor.  Its well balanced nutritionally, very filling, and can be adjusted to serve the tastes of anyone.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  •  6-8 ounces white fish, diced
  •  1/2 cup diced onion
  •  1/2 cup shredded carrots
  •  1/2 cup cooked peas
  •  1/2 cup diced celery
  •  1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  •  1 tablespoon dried parsley (or 3 tablespoons fresh parsley)
  •  Scallions, cherry tomatoes, etc. for garnish
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  •  Salt and pepper to taste
  •  Juice of a half lemon

In a large hot skillet, add the olive oil, onions, carrots, and celery.  Saute over medium heat until celery and carrots are softened.  Add the fish and cook thoroughly.  Add the rice, quinoa, peas, and herbs.*  Stir to combine.  Heat through, spritz with the lemon juice and serve with whatever garnishes you like.  This time of year, my first garnish is always tomatoes although this year, without my husband’s garden, I’ve had to find fresh tomatoes in the markets.

*Other additions, depending on your tastes, could be some diced peppers, sweet or hot; some hot sauce or chili oil; Old Bay seasoning or other herbs; and perhaps, since I’m now living in Minnesota instead of New Hampshire where this seems to be like seafood back east, some wild rice instead of the brown rice and/or quinoa.

Hash (dairy-free, gluten-free)

Anytime we had left over meat of any kind, my mother or I made hash from it.  My favorite is probably ham while my mother really liked red flannel hash made with corned beef.  It can be served with gravy, ketchup, horseradish sauce, or even plain with a poached or fried egg on top.  The vegetables added can also vary depending on taste and what’s in the frig or freezer.  I like to use sweet potato but again, any potato will work just fine.  It could also be made with just vegetables for a vegan hash.  In my eyes, any way one makes a hash is delicious with the crispy potato, tender meat and tasty vegetables.  The English version of Chinese stir fry!

You’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 1/2 diced celery
  • 1 cup diced and cooked potato
  • 2 cups diced and cooked meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, ham, tofu, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup cooked peas
  • 1/2 cup cooked carrots

In a large skillet, heat the oil and cook the onion and celery until softened.  Add the potato and cook until potatoes are browned.  Add the meat and vegetables and stir well.  Cook until heated through.  Add salt, pepper, and herbs to taste.  I used my salt-free mixed herbs.  Top with gravy, ketchup, etc. or serve plain.  My mother always fried eggs to go on top of her hashes but for those of us allergic to eggs, that’s not an option.

Turkey Tetrazzini (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free)

After Thanksgiving, my mother would always make turkey tetrazzini.  She added, of course, cream as well as either white wine or sherry.  Since I can’t use those things, here’s my version without all that fat or any alcohol.  Feel free to use whatever pasta you have on hand.  I used a tortiglioni made from buckwheat flour that a friend recommended but I usually use spaghetti which is the more traditional pasta used in this dish.  

You’ll need:

  • 8 ounces of gluten-free pasta cooked al dente
  • 2 cups of mushroom soup (see recipe under Soups and Salads or follow directions below — you will need additional ingredients to make this mushroom sauce)
  • 8 ounces of sliced or diced mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup cooked peas
  • 1 1/2 cups diced turkey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon died thyme
  • 3-4 quart baking dish
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 2-3 tablespoons avocado (or other) oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons shredded non-dairy cheese
  • cooking spray for the baking dish

If you don’t have some mushroom soup already to go, use this simple alternative:

In a medium skillet, heat 1/4 cup olive oil.  Add diced mushrooms, celery and mushrooms.  Cover and simmer over medium low heat about 5 minutes until vegetables are tender.  Add 3 tablespoons gluten-free all purpose flour (or brown rice flour) and stir to incorporate.  Cook for a minute to begin cooking the flour.  Add 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you don’t have any vegetable stock) and 1/2 cup non-dairy milk of choice (except soy which will not thicken).  Add the herbs and combine.

Combine the vegetables, pasta, sauce, and turkey in the skillet.  Pour into the baking dish.  Combine the bread crumbs and oil.  Spread the shredded cheese and then the bread crumbs over the top of the casserole and bake for approximately 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.