You know those nights when you’re pressed for time, your fridge is basically empty and the thought of cooking makes you want to cry? Tonight was one of those nights at our house. They seem to be plentiful lately.
But it’s quite the coup when you figure out how to overcome those shortcomings and still end up with something healthy and delicious. Hence this post! I wanted to share a little last-minute meal that was a combination of convenience and inspired innovation.
It all started when we remembered that we had a package of salmon burgers in the freezer. We usually don’t like to buy packaged burgers and prefer making our own, but who’s kidding who? That’s just not possible sometimes so it’s always nice to have some backup ready to go in the freezer. I bought PC brand Blue Menu ‘Wild Pacific Pink Salmon Burgers’ a while ago and was a bit skeptical about how they would turn out. I feared they would taste scarily reminiscent of cat food or at least like canned salmon (I know, why did I buy them in the first place?!), but I’m happy to report that they were surprisingly delicious and full of real chunks of salmon that tasted great. I highly recommend them and will definitely buy them again.
We needed a quick salad to go with the burgers and I decided to try my own version of a fantastic salad we recently had at an amazing new Greek takeout restaurant in the east end called Folia Grill.
Their food is so fresh and clean tasting – which to me is very impressive for a fast food Greek place. Nothing leaves you feeling greasy or heavy, the ingredients are fresh and you can tell it’s all been cooked and devised with a lot of thought and care. The owners bring in a special olive oil from Greece that you can really appreciate in their salads and on their grilled peppers. Honorable mention to the chicken gyro (the first I have ever eaten that hasn’t made me feel sick by the last bite; it’s non-greasy and full of smoky paprika flavor) and the pork souvlaki, which Neil absolutely adored.
But the pièce de resistance was Folia’s Romaine and Dill salad. So fresh and delicious, I had to try to make it at home. I’ll admit, mine wasn’t nearly as good as theirs – I don’t have the dressing quite right yet, but just the idea of this simple salad is so wonderful and such a great melding of flavors.
And then I needed a little sauce to go along with the burgers so I came up with my own healthier version of tartar sauce, completely inspired by what we had in our fridge. It came out pretty good, I have to say!
All of that paired with some grilled peppers and eggplant that I cut and tossed in olive oil and balsamic in about 5 minutes and then BBQ’d, and we ended up with a killer last-minute meal.
The whole thing took about 20 minutes to prepare and cook, leaving me with ample time to enjoy my prized backyard hammock, pictured below.
The hammock was my 30th birthday present last summer from my amazing husband, and it is pure bliss. My ‘happy place’, as I call it. There’s nothing like coming home after a stress-infused day (every day!) and surrendering yourself into the comforting embrace of a hammock.
If anyone out there is actually reading these blog posts (hello? Are you out there?), feel free to chime in and share your favorite last-minute meals or even an anecdote about your ‘happy place’ that keeps you sane and helps the stress of the day melt away…
In the meantime, some quickie recipes from tonight’s meal:
Dill and Romaine Salad:
Make sure you buy some really green and crisp romaine leaves, and cut them into thin strips. I rolled the leaves up like I usually do with basil and cut strips from there.
Chop up a ton of fresh dill (no measurements – it’s a quickie dinner!) and add it right into a bowl with the strips of romaine.
Drizzle with a good strong olive oil, some white wine vinegar, coarse sea salt and I drizzled on a bit of honey for sweetness. Mix and enjoy!
(side note: I rarely make a vinaigrette in its own bowl anymore… who has the time? I always drizzle my ingredients right onto the lettuce leaves and usually toss by hand. Yes, sometimes the proportions don’t work out perfectly, but sometimes good enough is good enough…)
Faux Tartar Sauce for burgers:
Mix in a bowl: low-fat sour cream, hot white horseradish, lemon juice, a bit of dijon mustard and 1 chopped dill pickle. Again, no proportions, just go with it!
This meal was enjoyed outdoors with a view of my aforementioned ‘happy place’…