It seems like everyone is busy during the week, me included, so it's nice to have a small repertoire of easy main dishes that can be put on the table in a minimum of time. When I plan menus for the upcoming week, I try to keep in mind which weeknights will be particularly busy or time-crunched, and I pull out a couple of ideas from my "quick and easy" file to cover those nights. Caesar Salmon, one of my favorite easy dinners, is pictured above.
Before I give you the recipe, a word about salmon. We LOVE salmon in my family. Love, love, LOVE it. But I had kind of gotten away from buying it because it has gotten quite expensive and it rarely, if ever, goes on sale at my local grocery store. It just seemed crazy to me to spend $8.99/lb. for the main ingredient for ONE family dinner. But then I started to think about it. Like a lot of families, we have those occasions when there is NO time to make dinner before we have to head off somewhere, so we've been known to stop for fast food on the way home. Even when my hubby isn't with us, a trip to McDonald's for me and my two boys always ends up around $15. Looking at that receipt one night got me thinking ... if it's okay to spend $15 at McDonald's every now and again, maybe it's okay to spend $10 on healthy and delicious salmon once every week or two. So, while I still love those occasional weeks when salmon goes on sale, I am now back to buying it regularly, even at $9 or $10 per pound. I've just determined that it's worth it.
My favorite salmon recipe is Caesar Salmon. It's delicious and easy, and the whole thing is done in the oven. You know, on those Food Network shows, they always tell you to start fleshy fish like salmon on a grill pan on the stovetop, then finish the dish in the oven. Yeah, great idea, but that's extra time I have to spend watching the salmon while it grills, and an extra pan to wash if my grill pan can't go into the oven. No thanks. On weeknights, I'm all about simple, easy, and as few dishes as possible. So with that introduction, here's the very simple recipe.
1 salmon fillet, about one pound
1 T. creamy Caesar salad dressing
1 T. butter
2-3 T. seasoned bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a large, shallow baking dish and place salmon fillet in the dish. (You can cut the fillet up into 4 individual servings if you want to, but I like to cook it in one piece.) Season the fillet with a little salt and pepper, then brush the fillet with the salad dressing. Melt the butter either in a small saucepan on the stovetop, or in a small bowl in the microwave. Toss the bread crumbs with the melted butter. (If the mixture is too "wet," add a few more bread crumbs.) Sprinkle the crumbs on top of the salmon. Bake in the preheated oven about 20 minutes or so, until the salmon is just done the whole way through, and the bread crumbs are browned and toasty. (The salmon should flake with a fork if it's done.) Cut into serving pieces and garnish with lemon, if desired.
That's all there is to it, and I promise that it will taste great. The salad dressing adds a bit of garlicky goodness to the salmon without overwhelming the taste of the fish itself. And the toasty bread crumbs make this a real kid pleaser.
I like to serve salmon with rice and a steamed vegetable, usually either carrots or broccoli. I have an electric rice cooker (which I adore), and that baby needs about 30 minutes, so I start my rice just after turning my oven on to preheat. While the salmon and rice are cooking, I start my vegetables steaming, which takes maybe 15 minutes or so. Easy-peasy, and a total of about half an hour invested for the payoff of a delicious and healthy dinner.