It turns out that work might be harder than university, even with exams.
I know, I know. I’m sure everyone else has figured this out a looong time ago, but I am pretty new to the working 40-50 hours a week business. It is why I have been a little absent on the internet lately – getting to work at 5am, standing until 2-4pm, getting home to help with dinner (and possibly fit in some exercise!), and then trying to get to bed early enough to not be smashed the next morning (again, at 5am) isn’t conducive to blogging (or not yet, anyway!).
As a result, I am now a bit of a doughnut making expert – or at least much better than before. The job mostly entails heading up the doughnut making at a local cafe: the brioche dough is freshly made and cut into rounds by someone else in charge of breads (who also makes ciabatta, sourdough, crumpets and scones), and I then fry them in coconut oil, fill them to bursting with creme diplomat and berry coulis, and coat them in icing sugar – twice, for extra snowy whiteness – and garnish them with more coulis and freeze-dried berries. Other flavours include snickers caramel with chocolate cream, cherry & clove for Christmas, and strawberry for spring. Three to five hundred doughnuts are made every morning, with more on weekends. This is alongside all the rest being baked in the other kitchens – epically constructed cakes, tarts and other sweets, alongside savoury quiches, pies, and sandwiches, all with top quality ingredients.
Basically, this spring salmon, asparagus and risoni salad what I make when I have been subconsciously snacking on all of the above, all day. I have so little self-control around good food..
It is also for ALL those days. The ones where you are practically dead on your feet, dinnertime is approaching and you haven’t prepped anything ahead, and you really just want to curl up in bed…but you also can’t stand to have takeaways and want to eat something good in all ways possible. Healthy, full of flavour, but easy to put together. Something that will make you feel better without having to stand in the kitchen for hours, and something that you can pair with hunks of crusty ciabatta, slathered with melting butter (because isn’t that really the ultimate comfort food?). I am a sucker for bread, I must admit.
Needless to say, this ticks all those boxes: poached salmon is tossed through risoni with grilled asparagus, spinach and peas, dressed with lemon, olive oil and parsley, and served with chunks of creamy avocado. Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, as well as the aforementioned ciabatta, finish it off. So I know it is called a ‘salad’, but that means much more than a vinaigrette coated pile of greens with a few bits of cucumber and tomato – really, it is pasta.
The poached salmon is much easier than it might seem – you literally just simmer a bay leaf and seasonings in water for five minutes, turn the heat off, add the salmon and leave it for 15minutes – while you prep the rest of the salad. It is on the table in under half an hour. AND it lasts perfectly for lunch the next day – no wilting greens or sad-looking soggy tomato around here.
THEN you can dive head first under the covers, replete, recharged, and not weighed down by the salty, greasy takeaways you might otherwise have consumed. It’s a win-win, right?
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon white peppercorns
- 1 fresh bay leaf, torn in half
- 400-600g salmon fillets
- 1 cup risoni (roughly 200g)
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- a bunch of asparagus
- a couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley (or to taste)
- grated zest and juice of 1-2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- avocado, to serve
- In a medium-large frying pan, add the salt, peppercorns, bay leaf and 750ml (3 cups) of water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the salmon (skin side down, or skin removed), cover and leave for 15 minutes. Lift the fish from the poaching liquid onto another plate.
- Meanwhile, cook the risoni according to packet instructions (until al dente). Add the peas in the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain and rinse under cold running water.
- Bring another pan to high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and then the asparagus spears, turning for 3-5 minutes until cooked through (slightly browned skin, tender but still with some crispness).
- In a large bowl, combine the risoni, spinach, asparagus and parsley. Flake the salmon into the salad, removing any bones you encounter. Combine the lemon juice and zest, olive oil and sugar separately and then toss through the salad.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve with slices of avocado and ciabatta bread.