Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Herb & Pesto Polenta with Salmon & Eggs

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a friend had come to visit and brought with her treats from the northwest where she lives.

One of those treats was a bottle of marionberry spread, which I wrote about in my post titled Marionberry Rhubarb with CashewNut Cream.

Another of the treats was an 8-ounce pack of locally caught, wild king salmon (also known as Chinook salmon) which she'd bought direct from the fisherman who'd smoked it with maple and wine.

That's one of the advantages of living in the Pacific Northwest: access to just-caught, wild fresh fish, and in particular, Chinook salmon.

In the July issue of O Magazine, which I mentioned last week because of the 10-page spread on extreme dietary choices, there is a "tip box" on the page featuring a woman who is a pescavore (eats only seafood).

The first tip in the box is "Download a Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch pocket guide for best picks, fish to avoid and good alternatives."

I've linked to that guide, and others like it, many times on this blog. And the reason I've done so is to alert readers to easily-accessible, online resources that can help them make healthy and sustainable seafood choices when grocery shopping.

Because I'm posting a meal idea making use of the wild caught Chinook salmon my friend Judi gave me, I went onto Seafood Watch's website to see what they had to say about salmon, and I saw the heading Updated West Coast Salmon Recommendations.

Seafood Watch is recommending consumers avoid wild caught salmon from California and Oregon due to the declining populations of Chinook salmon in these states.

Whereas wild caught salmon from Alaska remains the best choice and good alternatives are wild caught salmon from Washington (which is what Judi gave me) and northern Oregon.

Last summer, I took a friend's husband grocery shopping. Bruce is an introvert and he wanted some tips on navigating Whole Foods Market on a budget and without going into overwhelm. It was Bruce who introduced me to Seafood Watch's pocket guide.

I was very impressed that he made specific seafood choices for his family based on the guide and I decided if he can do it, I can too, and so can you. Read the guide online, print it out, and keep it on hand when next grocery shopping.

Herb Polenta with Pesto, Salmon & Eggs
1) To make the polenta base (which is underneath the pesto and salmon in the top pic), pour 1 cup of polenta into a pot with 2 cups water and 2 cups half and half. Gently stir off-and-on for about 30 mins over a low heat.
2) At the last minute, toss your choice of grated cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Taste test, adding salt and pepper if you wish.
3) If you have herbs growing in your garden or window box, pick a handful. I chose parsley, marjoram, and chives, chopped them coarsely, and then tossed them into the cooked polenta.
4) Now pour the polenta into an oil-lined pan or baking tray and let it set.
5) Once it has set and is cool, turn polenta onto a plate and spread it with pesto. I had some garlic scape pesto left over so I used that.

To Serve: Break into pieces about 3 ounces or more, depending on the number of people eating, of smoked salmon and spread the bits atop the herb and pesto polenta. I dotted some sliced black olives over the lot, and then garnished the plate with a couple of sliced, hard-boiled eggs.

One cup of cooked polenta made the portion in the top pic, which I cut in two, sharing it with a friend with a side salad of garden-fresh greens.

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