“Food is where the world comes together and, around the table, everybody is related to everybody else.”
~ Salvatore Siani
While my husband and I are plant-based in our eating, we have friends who are carnivores and when we invite them for dinner we serve meat or fish with the meal. I know I could cook a plant-based meal that would be delicious and entirely satisfying for a carnivore, but I want my company to feel comfortable with the food I am serving them, rather than asking them to appreciate our vegan diet.
I have devised a company dinner menu that “goes both ways” so that both plant-based and non-plant-based eaters can sit at the table at the same time without either feeling like the other is giving up something.
Here is my method and recipes for a wonderful salmon-or-no-salmon company dinner along with a timeline on how to get it from the kitchen to the table in about 45 minutes. It’s easy to prepare and involves little real cooking. If you want to cut the preparation time down to 15 minutes, a lot can be done beforehand.
On the menu:
Farro with “Alfredo” Sauce (Vegan)
Spinach Salad with Oranges, Peanuts and Ginger (Vegan)
Baked Naan Chips (Vegan)
For the Salmon:
>>> One 2 to 3 inch fresh salmon steak for each person who is eating salmon.
>>> McCormick’s Salad Supreme Seasoning (from the local grocery store or from Amazon).
>>> Olive oil.
Cover a pan with tin foil and lay the salmon on it skin side down. Spread a little olive oil with your fingertips on the sides that are facing up and sprinkle the salmon steaks generously with the Salad Supreme Seasoning. Bake in preheated (very hot) 450 degree oven for 9 minutes. (A strange amount of time, but one that results in a buttery, succulent salmon.) When the salmon is done, let it sit for about 1 or 2 minutes before serving. To serve, slide a spatula carefully between the flesh of the salmon and its skin, the skin will stick to the tin foil allowing you to lift a whole skinless salmon steak from the pan.
For the Farro:
1/4 cup of uncooked Farro per person. Farro is a grain that is shaped like a pine nut and made from the heart of the wheat. I get the kind imported from Italy and order it from Amazon. I use it in this menu because of its nutty flavor and chewy consistency. (Farfalle would be a nice substitute.)
>>> Cook the Farro in about 3 cups of boiling water for 8 to 9 minutes. Toss (do not drain) with the “Alfredo” to serve.
For the “Alfredo” (Adapted from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook).
>>> 2 cups fresh packed basil, arugula or baby kale
>>> 1/4 cup pine nuts
>>> 4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
>>> 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
>>> 1/2 package extra firm silken tofu
>>> 1 tbl. nutritional yeast
>>> 1/3 cup tahini
>>> Cooking sherry as needed (water or almond milk can be substituted)
Put all of the ingredients into a high speed blender such as a Bullet, (not a food processor) and blend until smooth. Note: If you don’t have a high speed blender leave out the pine nuts as they need a high speed blender to become entirely incorporated into the sauce. (They can be added to the pasta whole just before serving).
For the Salad:
>>> Four handfuls fresh spinach (or other salad greens) cut up into bite size pieces
>>> About 1/2 cup grated carrots
>>> 2 oranges peeled with a knife (so as to remove all the pith), and chopped.
>>> About 1/3 cup chopped roasted peanuts.
>>> 1 avocado cut into bite size pieces
>>> 1/2 cup pickled sushi ginger (the kind you get when you are eating sushi) cut up into bite size pieces
For the Salad Dressing:
>>> About 1/3 cup olive oil
>>> Equal amount of amino acids
>>> 4 crushed garlic cloves peeled and chopped
>>> Juice of one fresh lemon
Put all the ingredients for the salad dressing into the bottom of the bowl in which you are going to toss the salad, mix together with a whisk and put all of the salad ingredients on top.
For the Naan:
>>> 1/2 Frozen Naan bread per person
Pre heat the oven to 450 degrees. Defrost the Naan slightly and when soft enough, cut into eighths with kitchen scissors. I get frozen Naan from Trader Joe’s.
Putting it all together:
- Turn the oven on to 450 degrees
- Take the amount of Naan you are using out of the freezer
- Put a pot of water on to boil for the Farro
- Make the salad dressing, put all of the salad ingredients on top and put salad, bowl and all, in the fridge.
- Put the Farro in the water and cook for 8-10 minutes
- Put the salmon on the tin foil lined pan and season (it’s okay to let it sit at room temperature while you are making the other preparations)
- Put all of the ingredients for the Alfredo in the blender at the same time and blend until smooth
- Cut up the Naan
- Put the salmon and the Naan in the oven on separate shelves and turn on the timer to 9 minutes. Check the Naan in about 4 minutes and take it out when brown.
- Toss the Farro (do not drain it). Put it back in the pan it came from and mix the Alfredo into it.
- Toss the salad.
Plate each dish with a serving of salad topped with a salmon steak and surround each salad with the cut up pieces of Naan. Serve the Farro separately in a small bowl.
Author’s Note: Many thanks to my friend Karen Turner for lending her eye and her expertise to the writing of this recipe!
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s Own