It’s Health Food: ’60s Style! We’ve got fish drowned in vermouth; we’ve got summer squash drowned in butter; we’ve got some vaguely spanakopita-esque greens baked with yogurt and a feta-free Greek salad, neither of which actually came from my grandmother’s cookbook because hey, who are we kidding?
The salmon and the squash, though? They’re about the upper limits of what Nonnie has by way of low-cal entrées and vegetables. (I apologize, by the way, for posting yet another salmon recipe— when you’re trying to eat stuff that’s relatively good for you and also trying to work your way through your grandmother’s saturated fat-saturated recipes, salmon frequently seems like the only way to square the circle.) Neither is really much to write home about, maybe because Americans didn’t learn how to make food that both a) tasted good and b) was good for them until, like, the year 2000—but neither was an outright disaster, either. What can I say; every recipe in this project doesn’t provide something to write home about (or something to write in-depth about on the internet), which is probably why I’m posting these guys a) together and b) several days late. Whatever! The only rule for blogging is there are no rules!!
Hm. Maybe I’m still drunk from the salmon?
1/2 lb. salmon per serving [I used a package of frozen fish that was about 1.5 pounds altogether, and which fit pretty snugly into my baking dish. It was definitely enough for four servings]
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon rosemary
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup dry vermouth
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients, except salmon, in a small bowl and mix well. Grease a shallow baking dish, just large enough to hold the fish, and place fish in dish [skin side up, I’d say, so that you have some hope for crisp skin and so it doesn’t dry out].
Pour sauce over fish, dust with paprika and bake in a 350 oven for 25-45 minutes (depending on thickness of fish), uncovered. Baste fish twice during cooking time. [Maybe it’s thanks to the amount of fish I used, or the size of the dish, but it was basically submerged in sauce—which made the whole “basting” thing sort of difficult.]
4 crook-neck squash [They’re the ones that look like summer squash that have been cursed by a witch; they taste pretty much exactly the same as regular, cylindrical summer squash and zucchini both, so there’s no harm in using either of those instead]
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons butter [It wouldn’t be Nonnie-style vegetables without butter]
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Dash garlic powder
Scrub, trim, and dice squash. [This is more difficult than you might think it’d be, since these little buggers are so weirdly shaped. For your own sanity’s sake: cut off the weirdo neck first, dice it, then tackle the body, like so:]
Drop in boiling, salted water, cover, and cook about 3 minutes. Drain. Heat butter in skillet, and sauté onions until tender; add squash and seasoning. Mix well and cook over low heat just until squash is hot. [Warning: it won’t take very long for the squash to get very, very mushy, so don’t leave it on the stove for too long.
The verdict: The squash is about as tasty as any vegetable sautéed in butter will tend to be—i.e. pretty tasty, and not the sort of thing you should really need a recipe for. I did bump up the white pepper in the end, by about half a teaspoon, which I’d recommend; I’d also recommend mixing some of the leftovers into scrambled eggs. I will say that I’ll definitely boil the crookneck cubes for less time if I ever make a dish like this again, or I’d just sauté it briefly; this sort of squash cooks so quickly that it really doesn’t need a three-minute boiling water bath to become tender.
As for the salmon? It was a teeny bit dry, despite all that baking liquid—which might be because of Nonnie’s recommended cooking time (which I definitely hewed to the lower end of), or because I kept it warm in the oven for an extra 10 minutes or so before we ate it, or because the frozen Trader Joe’s fish I used just wasn’t particularly high quality. In any case, I ended up with a perfectly fine salmon that did not, in fact, taste like it had taken a swim through the liquor store before landing on my plate; I guess that stuff about alcohol cooking off isn’t made up after all.
In fact, it’s mildly flavored enough that you could easily take whatever salmon you have left over and repurposing it as the centerpiece of a fancier-than-usual lunch salad. Just don’t tell Nonnie there’s no butter in it.