By Steph Farrar
Nothing about this week's ingredient has a thing to do with the current situation I put myself in. Except that cucumbers make me happy. On anything and with everything. After years of regretfully lacking appreciation for my time and my freedom, the previously mentioned job which took me away from those benefits, has unfortunately ended.
Actually, more like fortunately. More like thank God in heaven all around me. More like "high-five" the universe for giving me the courage to move on. For choosing happiness over failure. For choosing family over my tendency to people-please. I look back without regret, but with remorse for its bitter ending. Perhaps our relationship will mirror the cucumber and jalapeño: when the crisp, cold meets the crunch, heat and is brought to life by a pungent lemon.
Only time will tell.
Let's move on.
In the mornings after Vesper has gone to school, when I'm scouring my brain for dinner ideas, cedar planked salmon with cucumber jalapeño salad is generally one of the first cravings to tempt my taste-buds. It's easy, inexpensive and super tasty. The plank should soak for at least 6 hours (even though it only calls for 1 hour) so I generally soak it overnight for a proper "smoke." If you decide at noon, day of, to have salmon that night, you'll be sufficiently soaked. Make sure it's submerged. I like to serve it with brown rice and evenly roasted tomatoes. Every plate needs some color.
For the tomatoes, easiest thing in the world... add some olive oil, finely chopped garlic and salt and pepper and whole roast on 400 degrees for about 18 minutes. I usually add to the oven just as the salmon goes on the grill. Maybe even tent with some foil... splattering will occur.
After the plank has soaked, place the salmon on the plank and generously season both sides with salt and pepper, skin side down. That's it. This is the easiest job you will ever have. No verbal abuse. No demeaning squander. Just wood on a hot grill. Close the lid and cook for about 15-18 minutes.
And please, enjoy your freedom, your choices, your boundaries. And make sure you don't overcook the salmon!
Cedar Plank Salmon with Cucumber and Jalapeño Salad
3 Persian cucumbers, sliced and quartered
1 1/2 jalapeños, deseeded and small dice
3-4 tbsp. olive oil
juice of half a lemon
1 1/2 lbs salmon
1 cedar plank salt and pepper
Soak Cedar plank in water for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Heat grill to 400 degrees.
Season both sides of salmon with salt and pepper. Place salmon skin side down on soaked plank. Place plank on grill and cook for 15-18 minutes depending on desired doneness.
Combine cucumber, jalapeño, olive oil, lemon and salt and pepper in bowl. Cover and refrigerate while salmon cooks.
Serve salmon with salad, over brown rice and roasted tomatoes.