Kitchen Wit and Wisdom: Salmon’s healthy rep is well-deserved

Salmon has a multitude of health benefits, but it's also delicious and versatile

It’s salmon time in the interior of British Columbia with many fishers heading to their favourite rivers and lakes in hopes of catching a Pacific salmon heading back to the spawning grounds. If you’re not into that adventure, there is certainly lots of fresh salmon and other fish choices to purchase at our local fish store.

Salmon has earned its reputation as a health-supportive food, based largely on its unusual omega-3 fatty acid content. It’s very common for 4 ounces of baked or broiled salmon to contain at least 2 grams of omega-3 fats and there are only two other foods that provide more omega-3s per standard serving than salmon: walnuts and flaxseeds. Eating foods rich in omega-3 fat (including salmon) is associated with decreased risk of numerous cardiovascular problems, including: heart attack, stroke, heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides in the blood. Omega-3-containing fish is also associated with improved metabolic markers for  improved mood and cognition, joint protection, decreased risk of two eye-related problems: macular degeneration and chronic dry eye, and decreased cancer risk.

I know not everyone likes salmon, so I’m offering a recipe for mild white fish as well today. The salmon recipe is a favourite  for salmon lovers. It is low in calories, can be a whole meal alone, or served with crusty bread and a salad. It is easy to prepare and the sauce really complements the salmon. Enjoy!

Balsamic-Glazed Salmon Fillets

4 (5 ounce) salmon fillets

2-3/4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons white wine

2 teaspoons honey

3 tbsp. and 1-3/4 tsp. balsamic vinegar

2-3/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Coat a small saucepan with non-stick cooking spray. Over medium heat, cook and stir garlic until soft, about 3 minutes. Mix in white wine, honey, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, for about 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Arrange salmon fillets on foil-lined baking sheet. Brush fillets with balsamic glaze, and sprinkle with oregano. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 14 minutes, or until flesh flakes easily with a fork.

Brush fillets with remaining glaze, and season with salt and pepper. Use a spatula to transfer fillets to serving platter, leaving the skin behind on the foil. Note: Some people may disagree with the smell during cooking but it will dissipate and the results are well worth it.

Mediterranean fish bake

4 medium zucchini, sliced about 1/2 inch thick

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

4 fish fillets  (tilapia, or any inexpensive mild white fish)

1 (14-1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes* (may use diced tomatoes with onions and green pepper)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. sugar or 1 teaspoon Splenda

1 teaspoon capers, drained and rinsed

1 (2-1/4 ounce) can sliced black olives

3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Garnish:

3 tbsp. fresh parsley

1 tbsp. grated lemon zest

1 clove garlic, minced

Sauté the zucchini and garlic in a skillet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Sauté until the zucchini is crisp-tender.

In a 9×13 baking dish place the zucchini and garlic evenly in the bottom. Place the fish evenly on top.

In a small bowl mix the next five ingredients and pour over the fish, covering well.  Place in a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily. Sprinkle the cheese over the whole dish and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.

In a small bowl, combine parsley, lemon zest and garlic. Sprinkle over fish and serve immediately.

*Note: to use fresh veggies, use 1/4 cup finely diced onion, 1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper, and 2 cups fresh diced tomatoes. Sauté onion and pepper in a small skillet until tender; add tomatoes and heat through. Add to recipe where directed.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.

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