Farmer’s Market Provençal Salmon Couscous

Farmer’s Market Provençal Salmon Couscous

~ Salmon, Cherry Tomatoes, Eggplant, Peppers, Leek, Couscous ~

It’s Provençal vegetable season. Peppers, eggplants, squash and tomatoes are impossible to miss (and resist) at the farmer’s market. Tables stacked with teetering piles of gypsy, poblano, Hungarian and myriad chile peppers vie for attention, showing off their glorious colors and funky, gnarly shapes. I pass a table of eggplant where shiny black beauties, the sturdy workhorse of the eggplant family, sit proudly with their brethren: skinny, lilac Chinese no thicker than a fat finger, purple and white zebra-striped Sicilian, baby ball-shaped Thai.  It’s impossible not to pick up too many, simply because they look so pretty. At home, I fill my refrigerator with as much as I can fit and save the prettiest to display in baskets and bowls on our tables.  The challenge is to remember to eat them.

Provençal Salmon Couscous

Any vegetable that you like to roast will work with this recipe, but it’s especially delicious with late summer veggies. Feel free to mix and match to your taste. I roast the vegetables separately from the salmon (except the leek) so that they won’t absorb too much fish flavor while cooking.

Serves 4.

4 thin, small Chinese eggplant, sliced diagonally, 1/2-inch thick (or one medium dark beauty eggplant, cut in 3/4-inch chunks
1 poblano pepper, stemmed and seeded, halved, thinly sliced
1 sweet red bell pepper (or other peppers you might like), stemmed and seeded, halved, thinly sliced
1 cup small cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

1 large leek, white and pale green parts sliced 1/2-inch thick
4 salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each
2 tablespoons, plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Sriracha

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 1/4 cups hot water
4 scallions, white parts removed (save for another use), green parts thinly sliced

Heat oven to 375 F (190 C). Toss eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and garlic in a bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Transfer to a baking dish. Bake in oven until vegetables are tender and slightly colored, 45 minutes.

Place leeks in a rectangular baking dish. Nestle the salmon filets between the leeks. Whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, Sriracha, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over fish and leeks. Using your hands, gently turn the fish and leeks to coat. Place in same oven with the vegetables. Bake until salmon is just cooked through and beginning to color on top, about 30 minutes.

While the salmon is baking, prepare the couscous. Place couscous in a large bowl. Pour hot water over. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir once or twice. Cover and set aside until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Fluff with fork. Stir in scallions.

To serve, spoon the couscous onto a large platter or individual serving plates. Sprinkle the roasted vegetables over the couscous. Place the salmon filets in the center and scatter the leeks around the salmon. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

In Season: Asparagus and Leek Frittata

In Season: Asparagus and Leek Frittata


I was serious when I mentioned that I cannot resist buying asparagus right now. Gloriously firm, upright and grassy-green, they are presently in season in California, and I am doing my best to overdose on these veggie wonders. So far there is no end in sight to my cravings.

Asparagus have an ancient culinary heritage. Popular with the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, they even have an entry in the oldest surviving cookbook. Nowadays, asparagus are enjoyed in cuisines worldwide. Ripe asparagus are mildly sweet and astringent with a hint of lemon and grass.Their growing season is in the springtime, and they are a good match with other spring ingredients such as lemon, peas, morels and favas. In addition to tasting great, asparagus are healthy to eat. They are low in calories and great sources of vitamins A, B6, E, and K, as well as calcium, magnesium, zinc and folic acid. What’s not to like about all of that?

This is a recipe I prepared over the weekend from the TasteFood archives. As it was Easter, there were handily many eggs in the house, so a frittata was an obvious choice for a light meal. In this frittata, asparagus and leeks are sautéed and combined with fresh eggs, Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for a rustic yet elegant one dish meal.

Asparagus and Leek Frittata

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 leek (white and green part only), halved lengthwise and sliced thinly – about one cup
1 lb./500 g. asparagus, ends trimmed, cut on diagonal in 1″ pieces
6 large eggs
6 oz. (175 g.) Gruyère cheese, grated
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven broiler.
Heat oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat.  Add leek and sauté until soft but not turning brown, about 3 minutes.  Add asparagus, sprinkle lightly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and sauté until bright green and crisp tender, about 5 minutes.
Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl.  Add 3/4 of the Gruyère cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Pour eggs over asparagus, gently stirring to distribute evenly.  Cook over medium heat until bottom is set and top is still runny.  Sprinkle remaining Gruyère cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over top.  Place skillet in oven under grill.  Broil until frittata is puffed and golden brown, 2-3 minutes.  Remove and serve immediately or at room temperature.

Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Fricassée

Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Fricassée

Chicken Leek Mushroom Fricassee

Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Fricassée
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken breast halves, with skin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 lb. (250 g.) assorted mushrooms (such as white, crimini, shiitake) stems trimmed, halved
3 leeks, white and pale green parts, cleaned, sliced in 1/4″ pieces
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh
1/4 cup (60 ml.) dry white wine
1/2 cup (120 ml.) chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat one tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Salt and pepper chicken all over.  Add chicken to skillet, skin-side down.  Cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes.  Remove chicken from skillet.
Reduce heat to medium and add one tablespoon olive oil to skillet.  Add mushrooms and leeks and cook, stirring, over medium heat until leeks are vibrant and vegetables are tender but not too soft, 3-4 minutes.  Add thyme and sauté one minute.  Add white wine and simmer until most of the wine is evaporated.  Add chicken stock and return chicken to pan.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until chicken is cooked through, 5-8 minutes.  Remove chicken from pan and tent with foil to keep warm.
Add cream to vegetables and simmer until cream and stock reduce by a third and begin to thicken.  Arrange chicken on serving plates or platter.  Spoon sauce over chicken.  Serve with rice.