Fridge Patrol

We've all been there. You take a look in the refrigerator and are met with a handful of items that really must get used very soon or they will have to be tossed. You have a choice, you know. You could snarf a little of this and a little of that over the kitchen sink or you could think outside the box while taking a look inside your fridge and something like this could grace your dinner plate tonight:

A friend gave the charming term "musgo" to meals that incorporate ingredients that need to be used before they no longer can and I decided to use it in naming this fun salad. It was borne of a batch of greens, some zucchini, the last of my garden tomatoes, and the last bit of a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and the "musgo" nature of those items. Instead of limiting my choices to those ingredients, I thought about what they had in common and what they might pair well with. I ended up deciding a main dish salad that featured the veggies and got drizzled with a sauce-dressing based on the dregs in the spicy can in my fridge was what was for dinner.

After I'd gotten the basic idea, I roasted the beets and zucchini to concentrate their flavor and make things a bit more interesting. While that was happening, I opted to sear some salmon fillets to up the protein and make it main dish-worthy salad. You could easily opt for chicken, steak, tofu, or any number of other options. Heck, maybe there's a "musgo" item in your fridge waiting to star in such a salad! The diced peppers got tossed into the hot pan with bacon fat, some frozen peas, and a bit of mild vinegar. Voilà! My sauce-dressing was complete!

In the end, using up a few ingredients didn't mean sacrificing a great meal or feeling like being efficient meant saying goodbye to flavor. Instead, using everything in the fridge was delicious and one of the best ways I know to stretch your food budget dollars. After all, if you aren't wasting food, you have more to enjoy and more reason to justify the very best you can afford. Happy eating!

Musgo Salmon Salads

  • 2 golden beets, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 small zucchini, ends removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 T. canola oil
  • 8 oz. boneless, skinless salmon fillets
  • 1 tsp. spicy seasoned salt blend -- choose your favorite variety
  • 1 T. bacon fat
  • Generous handful frozen peas
  • 1/2 tsp. finely diced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 3-4 c. mixed greens
  • Generous handful shredded jicama
  • 1 small heirloom tomato, sliced into thin wedges
  • 2 T. crumbled goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a shallow roasting dish, toss the beets and zucchini with the canola oil. Roast the vegetables in the oven for 30 minutes or until they are softened and a little caramelized.

While the veggies are roasting, rub the salmon fillets well with your chosen spice blend and set aside. Melt the bacon fat in a large nonstick skillet and add the fillets to the melted fat. Sear on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on your desired level of rareness. When the salmon is done to your liking, remove it from the pan and set it on a plate for use later. Add the peas to the still hot pan and sauté them for a minute or two before adding the diced pepper and rice vinegar. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside for use later.

To plate the salads, place an equal amount of greens on two serving plates. Add the shredded jicama, warm roasted vegetables, and sliced tomatoes. Carefully lay a seared salmon fillet over the top of each plate and drizzle generously with the reserved peas and sauce from the skillet. Crumble some goat cheese over the top of each plate and serve immediately.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes

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