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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Too Hot to Handle

In Pittsburgh, we have about two weeks a year when the weather is what I would call "picture perfect".  It's usually a week in the spring and a week in the fall.  The rest of the time the weather ranges from manageable to downright awful.  Today was downright awful.

You know how it's said that it's not the heat, it's the humidity?  Well, from my perspective, it's the heat and the humidity that kills me.  Today it was 95 and so humid you could cut the air with a knife.  And, to make matters worse, it didn't rain.  At least when it rains in this kind of heat it cools things down, if only for a couple of minutes.

Added to all that, Kate has her driver's permit and is insisting on driving everywhere we go.  The problem with this, aside from the fact that it's scary, is that she wants to drive our extra car, a Volkswagen Tiguan.  We bought this car a couple of years ago when Charlie got his license and it's "the kids car," thus Kate's desire to learn to drive in it.

The problem with the Tiguan, I discovered yesterday, is that the air conditioning wasn't working properly.  Instead of blowing cool air, it was blasting out heat, thus broiling us as we drove.  As soon as I realized what the problem was I turned off the a/c and opened the windows but the damage was done.  We were both sweaty messes.  Needless to say, the car is going in for service and we are back in my car in the meantime.

The point of all this is that who can eat a heavy meal when they've been boiled alive in the summer heat?  Not me, that's for sure.  This brings me to today's recipe for salmon.

I love grilled salmon but sometimes Ted gets home too late to start firing up the grill.  Ted is a charcoal man, which means that it takes longer to grill than the gas alternative.  Hey, he's a purist and also the best BBQer I know so I go with it.  In any case, this recipe for salmon is much quicker than grilling on a weeknight.  It's really the searing that makes it so good, giving it a nice little crunch, much like grilling would do.  The Israeli couscous is a really nice addition with the salmon.  Save the recipe and serve it with other things too.  Give these recipes a try on a night you don't fire up the grill.

Recipe:  You Little Tarte's Seared Salmon with Israeli Couscous


For the Salmon:
4 salmon fillets, about 6 ounces each
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 cloves finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the Couscous:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Israeli couscous
1/4 cup fine nuts
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 -8 dried apricots, chopped
2 scallions, sliced
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped

For the salmon:
Preheat the oven to 425.

In a small bowl, mix together t1 tablespoon of the he olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.  Set aside.  Sprinkle the salmon fillets with salt and pepper.

In a large saute pan, heat the 1/4 cup olive oil over high heat until smoking.  Add the salmon and sear on the skinless side for 3 minutes, not moving it, and then turn and sear of the skin side for an additional 1 minute.  Both sides should have a nice, crispy sear.

Place the seared fillets on a baking sheet and rub with the olive oil mixture.  Cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until done.

For the couscous:
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan oven medium heat.  Add the pine nuts and couscous, stirring frequently and cooking until toasted and light golden brown, about 7 minutes.  Add the chicken stock, season generously with the salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes, until the stock is absorbed.

Remove the lid and stir in the apricots, scallions, and parsley.  Adjust the seasonings and serve with the salmon.


  1. This is right up my alley! Thanks for sharing!

  2. The heat in central PA has not been much better, Nadine. It finally rained coolness last night and I for one am thrilled. Wilting does not bring out the best in me:)

    Oh how I remember the days of holding on tight when the kids learned to drive. I'm not sure I would have weathered no air conditioning though.

    I too prefer charcoal. I'm in the process of shopping for a new grill. I'm thinking Weber. I love salmon on the grill and apricots in the couscous is a welcome addition.

    Thanks for sharing...Stay cool...