Weeknight Shorts: Fast & Fancy

'Tis the season to think of love. For many, that means fancy meals and that often means going out. However, rather than facing the crowds, the cold, and emptying your wallet, this year may be the time to enjoy Valentine's Day at home. Before you roll your eyes and imagine a microwave dinner, consider the possibility of a plate like this:

Now, if I told you this dish only involved a few ingredients and would take less than a half an hour to make from start to finish, would you at least keep reading?

Salmon is amazing, good for you, and can be purchased for much less than some other traditional fancy dinner items like steak or lobster. But even beyond that, it cooks quickly, leaving you and yours time together. Last I checked, that was the best part of Valentine's Day anyway, right? Heck, if you wanted to really maximize your time together, you could cook your salmon together and then dine and enjoy the rest of the evening together, too. Win-win!

I like to pair this dish with rice because it can be quick and easy, too. You could even opt for one of the many rice pilaf mixes out there or make your own by stirring in broth, seasonings, and veggies you enjoy. There could also be a salad or you could skip the rice in favor of a salad. I'd recommend keeping the number of dishes limited to save time and avoid having you and yours over-stuffed. Instead, save room for another glass of wine and some fancy chocolate. And … good news. You saved so much on dinner that you can spring for the really nice versions of each. Mmmmmm! Time to start looking forward to Valentine's Day.

Spicy Maple-Bourbon Salmon

  • 2 (6 oz.) salmon fillets
  • 1/3 c. maple syrup
  • 2 T. bourbon
  • 1 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Place the salmon fillets in a shallow dish. Combine the maple syrup, bourbon, and chipotle pepper. Pour the mixture evenly over the fish and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a nonstick skillet. Carefully remove the salmon from the dish, reserving the juices, and place each fillet into the hot pan. Cook, untouched, for 4 minutes. Carefully flip the fillets and cook for another 3 minutes. Pour the reserved juices into the pan and cook until they thicken and bubble, about 3 minutes. Plate each salmon fillet on a serving plate and spoon the thickened sauce over the top before serving.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes