Any meal that includes “taco” or “fajita” is a huge win in this house. I love fresh, delicious and healthy Mexican or Tex-Mex. Real Mexican food is rich in vegetables, fish and lean meats. It is light, colorful (read: vitamin-rich) and satisfying: characteristics this dish embodies. My husband is a surgeon who works long hours; Mexican food is his ultimate gastronomical comfort on a night off.
This fare reminds me of our favorite Tex-Mex spots and great date nights in cities we lived in: Güeros in Austin, Texas and Nuevo Laredo in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Husband had a night off of Friday and was home at a very early 8:30 PM (after leaving home at a late 5:00 AM). A South of the border date-night at home awaited him. Along with an ice-cold beverage, of course.
I prepared a farmer’s market salad to serve along side the meal. It included bright green spinach; fresh figs; juicy, local peaches and basil. A simple drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar and superb quality extra virgin olive oil, along with shaved goat gouda cheese and a sprinkle of roasted pistachios transformed the greens into a salad lover’s dream. The salad was finished off with fine pink sea salt and cracked black pepper: good seasoning is the first lesson of cooking.
When making salmon tacos, I begin by preparing a Smoky Rub for the wild salmon. This rub is excellent on beef, chicken or fish. I utilize it as a versatile, all-purpose rub when dinner needs to be ready in a pinch.
For the Smoky Rub
A savory and complex blend of spices
3 Tbsp. of dried, smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. dried cumin
2 tsp. dried garlic
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp.dried parsley
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1.) Whisk all the spices together. That’s all, folks!
For the Spicy Baked Salmon
Easy-peasy and packs a flavor punch
1 pound wild salmon, whole
smoky rub, to taste
One lemon, halved
1.) Preheat broiler. Coat both sides of salmon lightly with olive oil and place on metal broiler pan or cookie sheet. Sprinkle salmon with half of the lemon and reserve the other half for another use. Season generously with the smoky rub, to taste. You will not need salt or pepper, as it is prevalent in the rub.
2.) Broil the fish for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the fish and the strength of your broiler. The fish will be cooked through and flake with fork when done. Alternatively, bake the fish at 400 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. Cut into strips or flake with a fork for the tacos and cover to keep warm.
For the Guacamole
A fairly traditional guacamole – with a slight modern twist
1 ripe avocado
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp. each: fresh cilantro and fresh red, white or red onion, finely diced
1 medium heirloom or red tomato, chopped
1/2 of (reserved) lemon, juiced, about 1 tablespoon of juice*
salt and pepper, to taste
1.) Mash avocado, still leaving a bit of texture to the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!). Stir in remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.
*or substitute lime juice
For the Salsa:
Short-cut: Purchase high-quality organic salsa. Add any leftover onions, cilantro and fresh tomato that you have handy from the guacamole, if desired.
For the Vegetable-Bean Medley
Healthy, nutritious and delicious – what’s not to love?
3 multi-colored bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 of a large yellow or white onion, or one medium onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced*
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
3 scallions (or green onions), thinly sliced
optional: juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 lime
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
*substitute 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes for the jalapeño, if desired
1.) In a large skillet, sauté yellow the onion and peppers over medium heat in one tablespoon of olive oil, until just tender, about ten minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño and sauté for about one to two more minutes, just to soften garlic. Then, add beans, scallions and citrus juice.
2.) Taste and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for another two minutes heat the beans through. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
The meal is ready, folks! It’s taco time!
1.) Break out some corn tortillas and warm them in the microwave between wet paper towels until steaming, or heat the tortillas on a hot skillet.
2.) Don’t forget to serve your flavorful salmon tacos with sliced, fresh lemon or lime and 0% Greek yogurt (superior to sour cream) alongside the salmon, vegetable-bean medley, guacamole and salsa.
3.) Her is the really hard part. Open up an authentic, thin and crisp tortilla chip and proceed to crunch and munch. Do not neglect popping open your favorite Mexican beer or uncorking a light white wine (obviously, whip up a margarita if you’re the in-house mixologist).
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