These days, we tend to avoid turning on the oven and instead head to the grill when it’s time for dinner. This menu is ideal for August because it requires almost no time at the stove.
The salmon is all about the grill, the beans can be prepped ahead and served at room temperature and the salad is a snap to assemble. The meal itself is relatively simple to execute, but the diversity of flavors belies the lack of hard work.
In keeping with the “avoid the oven” theme, baking for dessert is simply not the move. Serve some ice cream, packaged cookies or fresh fruit if a sweet is desired.
Garlic Butter Grilled Salmon
Slathering the flavored butter, which melts into the fish during the cooking process, is a great way to infuse flavor and moisture into fish. I used garlic, salt, pepper, lemon and white wine, but you could add or subtract according to preferences — try dried spices, fresh herbs, fruit juice, vinegar, onions, etc.
Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of your fish and the heat of your grill. Our salmon was about an inch thick, and it cooked for about 11 minutes.
1½ pounds salmon filet (skin on)
½-stick butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Zest and juice of ½-lemon
Pinch of salt
Generous amount of freshly cracked pepper
1 tablespoon white wine
Place the salmon skin side down on a plate and spritz it with the lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Mix the butter with the garlic, zest and wine in a small bowl. Stir to blend well.
Spread the butter mixture on the salmon filet and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes.
Heat a grill to medium/high. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes, or until it can easily be flipped and doesn’t stick to the surface.
Cook the second side for about 3 minutes, then rotate the fish 90 degrees (same side down) to create grill hashmarks. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, check for doneness and serve.
Note: If the fish is sticking to the grill, do not force the rotation step; it enhances the appearance of the finished product but does not alter the taste; if the fish is not ready to move, do not force it or it will tear.
Black Olive Green Beans
I am forever seeking ways to gussy up string beans.
This preparation came together as I looked for something interesting in the refrigerator of our beach rental (which was not well stocked) to jazz up the beans. Black olives jumped out at me, and now this will be a go-to simple vegetable recipe.
It went beautifully with the salmon and would work well with most proteins. I wouldn’t serve it with something that is overly salty, like a soy sauce-based dish, but most other simple meat, fish or chicken would be complemented by this combo.
I used oil-cured black, pitted olives, because that is what I had on hand, but any pitted olive would work. The black color was a nice visual contrast with the green beans, which green olives would not deliver, but they would taste just fine regardless.
One great thing about this dish is it can be served hot, at room temperature or chilled, so it gives the cook lots of flexibility on when to prep it.
1 pound string beans, stems removed
½-cup oil-cured, pitted black olives
Cover the beans with water in a large saucepan and add a pinch of salt and bring it to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 3 minutes until the beans are crisp-tender.
Drain the beans and place them in a serving bowl. Toss the olives over the beans, stir and serve, or set aside and serve at room temperature or chilled.
Peach Arugula Parmesan Salad
In general, my daughter dislikes fruit in salad. I’m a fan — I find the contrasting flavors and textures interesting, so we have an ongoing, low-grade battle on this.
When I placed this salad on the table, I said, “You are going to hate this.” Imagine my surprise when she said, “Actually, it’s pretty good. You put a lot of Parm cheese, and cut the peaches small. That decreases the sweetness, so it kind of works.”
Arugula is ideal here because of its peppery, slight bitterness. You could also use baby kale or escarole. I would stay away from the milder lettuces: Without the contrast, the salad will be dominated by the sweetness of the peaches. Because you make the dressing right on the salad, it is super-quick to assemble seconds before dinner.
1 package arugula or baby kale, or a head of escarole, rinsed and torn
1 ripe peach, chopped into small pieces, about ½ inch
⅓-cup ground Parmesan cheese
Generous grinding of fresh cracked pepper
¼-teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Place the lettuce and peaches in a salad bowl, and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
Sprinkle with the salt, garlic powder and pepper.
Drizzle with the vinegar and oil. Toss well and serve immediately.