Avocado & Salmon Mini Tower with Ditalini Vegetable Ragout
“I’m into very colorful food. Obviously lots of flavor, but I think we eat with our eyes first, so it has to look great. The presentation has to be great.’
Giada De Laurentiis.
Nice things are often simple things. When it comes to plating your meals, smaller portions will always look neater. Have you ever thought why fancy restaurants serve small-portioned meals? Of course, they can make more money when they serve you a smaller meal for the price of a bigger one. On a positive note, a nicely presented small meal will appeal to your sense of refinement, especially if it is food of a higher quality, which is normally served at gourmet restaurants. You are more likely to relish your food when it is served in small portions. Less food is likely to be wasted either. Finally, you will be able to try various dishes and may even have some space left for dessert.
I had an attack of inspiration to serve a simple yet healthy food in an elegant way. Eating vegetarian dishes still comprises most of my meals. However, for my individual body with higher metabolism (please, do not hate me!) I found it more filling to eat seafood occasionally. It is mostly wild salmon, wild cod or wild tuna when I cook at home; otherwise I have to compromise when I eat out since they rarely serve wild fish. Thanks to my European origin, I also developed taste for red and black caviar and cod liver, so I could not give up those gourmet foods either when it came to seafood. They serve caviar in some restaurants in the US. Cod liver can be bought canned (as tuna) in ethnic (‘Russian’) stores nationwide. If you are a vegetarian, substitute thinly sliced roasted red pepper for salmon. Black olives might do as well.
For home cooking, I make it really simple. It can be baked salmon fillet with baked zucchini or baked tomato. I also like serving smoked salmon since it does not require cooking. I can serve it sliced, on a side of a plate together with mashed potato and some raw vegetable salad. Sprinkling capers and dill weed with a few drops of lemon will complete it. Apart from ethnic stores, smoked salmon can be found in regular supermarkets or health stores like Wholefoods. In ethnic stores smoked salmon can be found with the skin and not sliced. It keeps all the natural fish oil intact making the fish more greasy and juicy, which I like better. You can also smoke raw salmon at home. A proper name would be salt and sugar cured salmon (does not require cooking). I am yet to try this recipe at home before I can share the results with you. For this recipe, I used salmon purchased in an ethnic store.
Avocado & Salmon Mini Tower
– avocado slices
– campari tomato slices
– cucumber slices
– salmon slices (vegetarian option: thinly sliced roasted red pepper)
– green onion
– fresh herbs: cilantro. You can also use dill weed, parsley or basil.
– Black olives
You start with the most stable slice as a bottom one, for example, tomato. Then you alternate slices so that they would stay in place. You can make several towers for one dish. I just made one since I had very little salmon left.
Ditalini Vegetable Ragout
I found the recipe of ditalini vegetable ragout in one of the supermarkets. I adjusted it according to what products I had in stock. It came out really nice. Can be served hot or chilled.
– 1 medium to large onion (shallots, red or white), coarsely chopped
– 1/4 lb fresh asparagus spears, trimmed bottoms (to remove hard parts)
– 4 oz (1 cup) ditalini pasta, cooked, drained
– 2-3 tablespoons grapeseed and/or olive oil
– 1 cup campari tomatoes, chopped in quarters (cherry tomatoes will do as well)
– 1 can (15.5 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed, drained
– 2-3 tablespoons capers
– fresh herbs: Italian parsley, fresh thyme, chopped
– dry herbs: any Italian herbs mix
– salt and pepper to taste
– Cook pasta, drain. You can also cook asparagus in the same pan in the same water on top of pasta. Remove them immediately once they softened a bit, and chop them in 2-3 equal parts.
– Chop onion, tomatoes, herbs.
– Drain beans.
– Preheat large skillet, add oil, add onions, let them simmer a bit before adding asparagus, tomatoes, pasta and beans.
– Cook and stir all the ingredients for 3-4 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
– Stir in fresh herbs, dry herbs, capers, salt and more oil if needed; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until hot.
Serve and enjoy!
The Amateur Expert.
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Author: Elena White