Strawberries, of course, are super eaten out of hand.
But they work just as well in main dishes from chicken to fish. In today's recipe, I used strawberries in a salsa along with mango, basil and, for crunch, cucumber. Peaches or nectarines work, too, but I chose mango because it's in season now and mighty tasty.
It's best to make the salsa at least an hour in advance. Fresh strawberries are very juicy, and the longer the mixture sits, the juicier it will be.
Salmon and citrus are a good match. So this salsa is paired with broiled orange-glazed salmon. Using the broiler makes this a quick dish. It takes just a few minutes for the broiler to preheat and the salmon cooks in about 8 to 10 minutes, depending on its thickness. Another reason I like to broil salmon is the top gets a nice deep golden color.
You just need to keep an eye on the salmon so it doesn't overcook. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that most seafood be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Use an instant-read thermometer to check. If you don't have one, it's a good idea to invest in one.
Another indication the salmon is done is that it should separate easily with a fork - not flake. To me, if it flakes, it's way overdone.
To ensure the salmon stays moist, you can brine it. Dissolve 1/2 cup kosher salt and 1/2 cup of sugar in about 10 to 12 cups of water. Add the salmon and refrigerate for up to 2 hours. Remove and rinse the salmon thoroughly and pat dry.
Thanks to an easy glaze, the top of the salmon gets a thin caramelized coating.
For this glaze, I used leftover fruit juice stashed away in the freezer. Whenever I have juice that's not being put to use, I freeze it in ice cube trays or muffin tins. Having a bag of the frozen juice cubes already portioned out makes it handy for dishes such as this one.
You take out just what you need and the juice cubes defrost quickly at room temperature or in the microwave. If you freeze the juice in a muffin tin, each portion is just about 1/2 cup. Using an ice cube tray, each cube is a good 2 tablespoons.
Finally, nutrition-wise, strawberries and spinach are a good pair, providing antioxidants.
BROILED SALMON WITH STRAWBERRY-MANGO SALSA AND SPICY SPINACH
Serves: 4; Preparation time: 15 minutes; total time: 40 minutes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 pound strawberries, washed, diced
1 cup diced cucumber, peeled if desired
1 mango, peeled, diced
3 tablespoons sliced basil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 salmon fillets (about 4 ounces each) with skin on
1/2 cup favorite citrus juice (such as blood orange juice, orange juice or mango-lemonade)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon orange marmalade or apricot jam
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 bag (10-12 ounces) baby spinach leaves, rinsed but not dried
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes to taste, optional
In a medium bowl, combine all the salsa ingredients. Set aside. You can make this several hours in advance.
Rinse and pat dry the salmon. Place salmon on a foil-lined baking broiler pan or baking sheet.
In a small saucepan, combine the juice, the Dijon, jam, brown sugar, kosher salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil and cook about 3 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Set aside half of the mixture in a separate bowl. Brush the other half on the salmon.
Preheat the broiler low with the rack 6 to 8 inches from the heat source.
Broil salmon about 8 minutes depending on thickness. Spoon remaining juice mixture over salmon and continue broiling another 6 or so minutes until salmon is just cooked through.
While salmon cooks, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add spinach with water still on the leaves, cover and cook 5 minutes or until spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally. If desired, drizzle the spinach with olive oil and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes. Divide spinach among plates.
Slide a spatula between the salmon and the skin and place the salmon piece on the spinach. Top with the salsa and serve.
Nutrition per serving: 339 calories (38 percent from fat), 15 grams fat (3 grams sat. fat), 27 grams carbohydrates, 26 grams protein, 505 mg sodium, 67 mg cholesterol, 4 grams fiber.