My goodness, this summer flew by. I know it’s just the beginning of August, but my girls start school next week! We packed a lot into this summer, more than we’ve ever packed before. We’ve been nonstop busy with camps and vacations, day trips and playdates. I really can’t complain. It’s been a lot of fun!
I love to have friends over for dinner in the summertime. Everyone is pretty laid back, our schedules are empty, we just kick back, relax and enjoy each other’s company with some good food. This summer, we were so busy that I really didn’t get to entertain as much as I like. There were no big summer cookouts, because everyone was as busy as I was. So, Friends, I apologize. I’ll make it up to you.
I was able to have a friend over on Sunday night for dinner and I finally got to make her one of my favorite dishes to entertain with. It’s perfect for summer, because it’s fresh and light. It’s perfect for entertaining, because almost everything can be done ahead of time. Plus, it was perfect for my friend’s birthday dinner, because I know she love salmon!
What makes this dinner so special isn’t the salmon itself, although I’m always game for salmon. It’s the fresh, cool, Asian inspired cucumber salad and ginger-sesame sauce that go with it. When the salmon, the salad and the sauce meet up on your plate, you’ll be in summer dinner heaven.
I started by peeling, seeding and slicing up two regular cucumbers. I tossed them with a bit of salt and let them drain in a strainer for a couple of hours in the sink. The salt helps pull some of the water from the cucumbers and crisp them up for the salad.
Next, I mixed up that delicious sesame sauce. The sauce calls for some rice vinegar, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and tahini. Tahini is a smooth paste (think kind of runny peanut butter) made from crushed sesame seeds. It’s a very common ingredient in hummus and other Middle Eastern recipes. If you don’t have tahini, or don’t want to use it, you could substitute smooth peanut butter in the recipe.
I threw my sauce ingredients into my blender and in no time, I had the amazing sauce for the salmon. I covered it and put it in the fridge until dinner time.
Now, with the salmon, you can cook it however you like. I decided to bake the salmon this time, but I’ve grilled it before when I’ve made this recipe. It’s up to you. To bake the salmon, I just lined a cookie sheet with foil, brushed the foil with olive oil, brushed my salmon filets with some olive oil, salted and peppered them and put them on the baking sheet, skin side down. I baked them in a 350* oven for about 12 minutes, and then broiled them for about 3-5 minutes.
This whole salmon baking process was so not-exciting, that I didn’t even think to take a picture of it for you. Just close your eyes and picture salmon on a cookie sheet and you’re good to go.
As the salmon was cooking, I tossed my drained cucumbers with some red onion, rice vinegar, lime juice and sesame oil.
When the salmon was out of the oven, I plated it up. I put some fresh salad greens on the bottom of each plate, laid the perfectly flaky baked salmon on top of the greens, topped it with some of the cool, cucumber salad and then drizzled all of it with that amazing sesame sauce.
It was a wonderful, light dinner on a hot, sticky summer night. Cool, crisp, refreshing and healthy. I love it! It’s one of those dinners that, every time I make it, I think “Why don’t I make this more often?” It couldn’t be much easier, and made for the perfect dinner to entertain with, because instead of dealing with chaos in the kitchen, I got to spend time with my friend. And that’s what summer is all about.
SESAME SALMON WITH CUCUMBER SALAD
Adapted from South Beach Diet.com
- 2 medium-sized cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 4 Tbsp. rice vinegar, divided
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, divided
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. Tahini or smooth peanut butter
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sesame oil, divided
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. fresh minced ginger
- 4 salmon filets
- ½ red onion, sliced very thin
- 6 cups baby salad greens
- For the cucumber salad: Place the prepared cucumbers in a strainer, in the sink. Toss the cucumber slices with 1 Tbsp. salt. Press a kitchen towel down on top of the cucumbers and let them drain for 1-3 hours before making the salad. After they've drained, toss the cucumbers with the red onion, 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp. lime juice and 1 tsp. sesame oil. Refrigerate until serving time.
- For the sauce: Combine 2 Tbsp. of rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, soy sauce, tahini, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and 1 Tbsp. water in a blender. Puree until combined. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
- For the salmon:
- To bake the salmon: Preheat the oven to 350*. Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Brush the cookie sheet with olive oil. Brush each salmon filet with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for 3-5 minutes, until the top of the filets start to brown just a bit.
- To grill the salmon: Preheat the grill to medium-high. Season the salmon with salt. Place skin side down on the grill and cook for 3 minutes, or until the skin shrinks and separates from the flesh. Flip the salmon, cook for 4 more minutes or until done.
- To serve: Divide the salad greens among the plates. Place the salmon on top of the greens and top with the cucumber salad and ginger-sesame dressing.