Tuscan White Bean & Asparagus Salmon Salad

On my last trip home to the U.S., I had the pleasure of exploring New York for a few days with my family to celebrate my mom's 60th. It was the trip of a lifetime, and one of the absolute highlights was a lunch I had at a little Italian restaurant in SoHo. Salmon with a crispy skin over a bed of cannellini beans, thinly sliced asparagus, pesto, earthy rosemary, and tons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. It was so simple, delicious, refreshing, and filling at the same time. Needless to say, it's been stuck in my head ever since. 
Since asparagus is still in season here, I took it upon myself to give recreating this dish a try last weekend. Hopefully the pictures speak for themselves, but hot damn, it was spot on and oh-so simple to make. The first words out of my boyfriend's mouth after trying this were "Wow!" And this is not something I hear often, since he is slowly becoming spoiled by all the good eats he gets living with me.

Perhaps best of all, though, this meal is incredibly healthy! It is high in protein and fiber and low in calories. It also is free of refined sugar and gluten for those who need to look out for that!

  • Wild salmon: Wild salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acid you can find. This is exciting because omega-3s promote heart health, brain health, circulation, blood sugar control, and even memory function! Other studies suggest they also help improve mood. Salmon also is a great source of protein, potassium, and the cancer-fighting trace mineral selenium. I can't in good conscious mention the health benefits of salmon without mentioning that there is a world of difference between farm-raised and wild salmon. Salmon gets its omega-3s and lovely pink color from its natural diet. Farm-raised salmon typical are feed grains and, as a result, contain more inflammatory omega-6 fats.
  • Asparagus: While low in calories, these spears are high in antioxidants, fiber (blood sugar regulation and digestive health), potassium, folate, vitamin K (strong bones and healthy blood clotting). They also contain the anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting compound quercetin. 
  • Beans: Beans are incredibly rich in fiber, which aids our digestive health. Fiber slows digestion, regulating blood sugar levels and keeping us full. The roughage also acts like scrubbing bubbles to cleanse our colon and intestines, helping to push out unwanted waste products and free the microvilli, so they can better absorb nutrients
  • Rosemary: You don't hear much about rosemary, but it contains caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid, which are anti-inflammatory, and have mildly antibiotic and antiviral properties. In animal studies, the oil has proven to protect the liver and inhibit tumors. It also contains compounds that help prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter needed for memory and brain health.
  • Lemon juice: Although lemon juice is acidic, it has an alkalizing and anti-inflammatory affect on the body. It also stimulates digestive juices and the liver to release bile.

Tuscan White Bean & Asparagus Salmon Salad 
Prep time: 15 min.
Cooking time: 10 min. 
4 lunch-sized servings

500 grams asparagus
500 grams canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 servings of salmon with skin (about 175 grams/person), brought to room temperature
Salt + pepper 
2 Tbsp. olive oil 

2 lemons (juice of both, zest of one)
2 Tbsp. pesto
3-4 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt and pepper (adjust further to taste)

1. Take the asparagus, remove the tough twoish inches at the bottom, and then finely slice. For raw version, put asparagus in ice cold water to keep crisp. For cooked version, simply sautee asparagus slices in a pan on medium-high heat with olive oil for a few minutes until tender. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the dressing beside the oil and salt and pepper. Then slowly pour in oil while whisking. Season with salt and pepper then set aside.
3. Season fish with salt and pepper. In a nonstick pan on medium heat, add olive oil and cook for skin-side up about 4-5 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until fish is firm to touch and skin is crisp.
4. In a large bowl, combine asparagus, beans and dressing. Tossing until coated.
5. Plate and serve with lemon juice and a twig of rosemary.

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