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Mountain Chef: Lean down with tasty salmon

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Hey everyone – we are finally breaking away from the -30F temperatures (maybe not for long the way this season has treated us). This nice weather is starting to make me think about warm spring days, the beach at the Basin, and the spring breakers collecting in the town streets. And with this nice weather … of course my mind goes straight to food! More sunshine and longer days to enjoy the outdoors invites quick, light meals to the table.

Salmon in mythology is associated with wisdom. It was believed if you eat it, it will grant you powers of knowledge. Really – I didn’t know that. What I do know is that it is a delicious, inexpensive and versatile fish and is a “go-to” for many people trying to eat healthier lean proteins. Salmon is high in proteins, omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D. The majority of Atlantic salmon is farm raised, and Pacific salmon is wild caught. It is great oven roasted, poached, seared and grilled.

In these recipes are two very simple, economical sauces that can be made ahead of time and either frozen for up to two months or kept in the refrigerator for a few days. As well, the recipes present a couple very easy cooking methods that can be used for many types of fish. So have fun using your creative imagination and what is on sale or in season. Buen Provecho.

4 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed well

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden, cooled

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1-1/2 ounces)

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse until minced the basil, pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan cheese. With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil in a steady stream and process until emulsified. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to five days.

1 mango, very ripe, peeled and seeded

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Salt to taste

White pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in blender and puree

4 salmon filets pin bone removed, skinned

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450F. Lightly coat the salmon in olive oil and season with salt and pepper, place in a baking dish. For pan-seared, prepare as before but preheat large saute pan over medium high heat and sear skin side up first until golden brown, then the other side, being sure to only turn it once to retain moisture. Bake or sear until desired temperature is reached. I prefer medium to med-well so it doesn’t dry out.

Ian T Buchanan is the chef/owner of Open To The World Private Chef Services and lead instructor at CMC Breckenridge’s Center For Lifelong Learning Culinary Program. Please view his website http://www.open2theworld.com and feel free to contact him at (440) 376-0096 or swing by and sign up for a culinary class At CMC Breckenridge.