I’m pretty well known for my salmon cakes. People love them, and when word spreads that today is the day, they literally show up at my door with a smile saying, “I hear you’re making those salmon cakes! Can I have one?” Does it sound like I’m kidding? I’m not. And I love them so much that even though I make them weekly I’m excited every time I have one–wait, did I say one? I meant two. I believe in starting with the best salmon I can find, and I’m lucky to have a purveyor like Dirk’s, because if you want dishes to taste amazing, you have to find the very best ingredients possible. I also happen to love crab cakes, but they’re not practical for everyday; and so began my quest for using fish instead.
I like to puree the salmon in the Cuisinart for just a few seconds as I don’t want it macerated–just blitz to the count of one, two, and then stop. On the side, I finely chop celery, onion and red pepper and combine with the salmon. I originally made it as the recipe below, but as I’ve become gluten free I typically prefer a no-bread diet. I feel best when I’m eating protein, vegetables, greens and salads and leaving the bread out. I now make mine without the bread crumbs or flour on the outside, but it requires great care when flipping it over. I make the salmon cake mixture in quantity, sticking the salmon, vegetables and spices in a mason jar in the refrigerator, and then I add the egg just before cooking.
Remember how, as a child, you’d ask with great expectations, “What’s for dinner?” Or you’d open the refrigerator, not knowing what treats you might find? If you want to cultivate that same excitement about weekday dinner as an adult, you can–by preparing these salmon cakes in advance. It’s always a trick to make delicious and easy weeknight dinners that please a plethora of different tastes, and I’m endlessly after how to do that and make it easy and not burdensome for myself. With these salmon cakes, no one feels like they are eating an easy weeknight dinner–this dish always feels like a special occasion, even for the cook.
Chicken burgers are in this same category–you’re taking chicken, and adding the vegetables and that little bit of magic which takes this burger from boring to delectable. I am not just saying these are a great addition to your dinner repertoire–I’m saying MAKE these! There is no breading or filler, so they are naturally gluten free and Paleo. I love smoked paprika and how it upgrades this burger. Many people might just automatically choose ground white breast meat, but using a pound of dark and a half-pound of ground white meat gives the burger a richer flavor. That, combined with the spinach, onions and peppers, makes a delicious transformation where one and one don’t equal two, but more like ten. I got the inspiration some years back from a Rachael Ray cookbook on weeknight dinners. I didn’t used to like other people’s recipes, but I’ve learned the value in finding an existing framework and then turning it around and making my own enhanced version. Over the years it morphs in a different direction, but I still pull out the original, where I have crossed out and added new ingredients. It’s pretty much illegible, but it’s a language I understand as Teri. Having the mixture in a mason jar in my fridge makes healthy and delicious meals available anytime, especially after a workout when I’m both hungry and motivated to eat a high quality yet instant dinner. There is something about the smokiness, and the combo of the dark and light meat with the crunch of the vegetables and the smoothness of the oil that makes me want to go cook one of these right this very moment.
1 pound salmon, skinned and boned
¾ cup celery, diced small
¾ cup onion, diced small
½ red pepper (or color of your choice), diced small
Handful of finely chopped chives (if desired)
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
¼ t. sea salt
1 T. Old Bay seasoning
flour (can be gluten free)
1 egg–beat lightly with a fork before adding to the ingredients
Put salmon in food processor and blitz for only 2 seconds as you do don’t want to macerate the salmon. I like to have some texture. Put in a bowl and add the celery, onion and red pepper. Mix well and season with salt and Old Bay. Can sit overnight in refrigerator before going further. When ready to cook, mix in the egg. Make patties in desired size. In a separate dish, mix cornmeal and flour. Put some of the mixture on a plate. Place patties onto flour mixture and gently turn over, then repeat. Sauté in oil that’s medium hot until done—2-3 minutes a side for small patties, 4-5 minutes a side for large.
TIP: for gluten free, leave out the bread crumbs and coat the patty with gluten free flour and corn meal; take care when flipping!
TIP: for Paleo, leave out the bread crumbs, flour and cornmeal. I mix the egg well with a fork and add just enough, but don’t drown the salmon in egg, or it won’t sauté. They are tricky to sauté without the flour binder, so take care when flipping, and if they break up a little, know that they will still taste fabulous even if they aren’t Instagram-worthy!
Smoky Chicken Patties
1 ½ pounds ground chicken, one pound ground dark meat and half pound ground breast
1 cups spinach chopped coarsely
1 red pepper (or color of your choice), finely chopped
Handful of finely chopped chives (if desired)
1 T smoked sweet Hungarian paprika
1 T kosher salt (less, if you prefer)
Black pepper as desired
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
half a medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more to sauté
Place the chicken in a bowl. Combine well. Add the onion, red pepper, spinach, parsley, garlic and mix to combine. Sprinkle paprika over, and then salt and black pepper.
Drizzle the chicken mixture with 2 T olive oil, mix it in and form four patties, then place them in well-oiled pan on medium heat. Cook 5 minutes on each side.
TIP: I like to keep the mixture in the fridge in a mason jar for freshness and prepare these throughout the week.