From Chef Mario: Baked Salmon with Pesto, Roasted Beets and Beet Greens

Back by popular demand, another post from our CSA member Chef Mario:

I was really excited picking up our CSA this past Wednesday for two reasons: one was the variety of veggies and fresh herbs that came my way looked delicious, and the second one was that I got some feedback from a couple of members that they found the recipes helpful, which is awesome. I love to hear that they are being helpful to your culinary experimentations, so by all means play with the recipes, modify them and just have fun, that is what cooking and food is, plain fun!! Just don’t throw it at each other while it’s still hot.

This week we got young onions that we can eat raw with some lemon, olive oil and sea salt, add some tomatoes and fresh mozzarella for a salad or if you want to use them as a condiment for fish or beef, you can slice two of them very thin, cook them in some olive oil (about 2 tablespoons), add some fresh or dry thyme, sea salt and ground black pepper; then cook them over a very low flame. Keep stirring them until golden brown and there you have it: an onion jam without sugar, the onions are so young and fresh that you won’t need it, of course you can add a small quantity if you want, I just prefer to cook my food without any added sugar.

What to do with all that basil? Make pesto and use it for pasta or as a sauce for that young onion, tomato, mozzarella salad, or if you want to be more adventurous, let’s make a baked salmon with basil pesto crust, roasted beets and sautéed beet greens, these greens have great flavor and are full of Vitamin A, C, Calcium and Iron.

Baked Salmon with Pesto, Roasted Beets and Beet Greens

For the pesto:

  • 2 cups of basil leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 2 small cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup of pine nuts or walnut pieces. Optional: If you can’t have nuts, pesto will survive.
  • 2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • ⅔ cup of olive oil

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor, puree until smooth and set aside until you are ready to bake that salmon, this amount of pesto would be probably enough to coat 3 – 6 ounce portions.

When you are ready for the salmon to be baked, which I’d suggest you do after your beets are done, spread a good amount of pesto on the salmon to have a thin even layer on top of it, bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes for Medium Rare or 20 minutes to Well done.

For the beets, wash them well and wrap them individually in aluminum foil and place them in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until fork tender all the way through, I usually use a paring knife to poke them. When done, wait until they cool down to the touch, and peel them, they are easier to peel while warm.

Now we get to the beet green part, and you have to make sure that they are washed through, otherwise they will be crunchy… with soil.

I usually like the immersion method, where I fill either my sink or a small bucket with cold water and place the beet greens roughly chopped, let them sit for a few minutes and then I fish them out with my bare hands! This method will have any soil in the greens fall to the bottom of the container and your greens come out clean. Great for washing lettuces, greens and fresh leafy herbs, such as basil.

Alright, now that your greens are cleaned and drained, you can sauté some garlic in olive oil, add your greens, season them and finish them with some acidity, like apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or better yet, the juice of the lemon that you zested for your pesto. 

Place those healthy greens on the bottom of the plate, salmon on top of the greens and sliced beets around the salmon, the whole process should not take more than one hour for you to enjoy. 

Have a Great Time!

Best wishes

Chef Mario