Maple Balsamic Salmon with Lemon Butternut Squash Orzo

This might make me a total nerd, but I love getting good deals! My husband makes fun of me because I (quite) frequently tell him about the great deals I get at the grocery store. I think part of it is justifying the things I buy, even though he’s far less concerned about it than I am. I just feel like if we’re eating something that’s normally pretty expensive, I have to explain that I got it for super cheap!

Like this beautiful salmon filet that was plenty of meat for a meal for our family – and cost less than $2!

maple balsamic salmon

Seriously, how could I not buy it?? I didn’t have a choice!

Plus, then I got to try out this fabulous recipe my sister told me about. It’s adapted from this recipe she found on the Mayo Clinic DASH Diet. (There are actually tons of great, healthy recipes on there! Go check it out!)

save moneyHow did I get salmon for that cheap you ask? Look for the “manager’s special” stickers on meat – that means it’s super marked down because the sell by date is only a day or two away. I buy most of my meat that way! If you’re not going to use it right away, just freeze it!

Back to this recipe – not only is it good for you, it’s also super easy! I’m still a little intimidated by fish; we never ate it growing up, so I don’t have a lot of experience with it. But this recipe is seriously fool proof.

creamy lemon butternut orzo maple balsamic salmon and asparagus

Just mix the maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and crushed garlic in a small pan on the stove. Heat it until it just starts to boil, stirring frequently. Then use about half of it to glaze the salmon, and pop it in the oven! Be sure to put the salmon on foil – the glaze gets really sticky and you do not want to clean it off the pan!

maple and balsamic vinegar glazed salmon

After 10 minutes, spoon most of the rest of the glaze on top of the salmon, and put it back in the oven. After another 10 minutes, check to see if it’s done. It should be nice and flaky. If it’s not, spoon whatever’s left of the glaze on top, and cook it for a few more minutes.

While the salmon is cooking, you can make the orzo.

creamy lemon butternut squash orzo

Start by cutting up the squash. You’ll want about 1 cup of squash cut into small chunks. Put it in a small pot with enough water to cover, and cook on the stove until tender – about 10 minutes.

Just a side note on the squash – I used slightly less than half of the squash pictured above for this recipe. I used the rest to make some baby food! Also, when buying a butternut squash, find one with a nice long neck. That’s where most of the usable “meat” is.

butternut squash

Cook the orzo according to the package directions, then add the cooked butternut squash.

For the sauce, squeeze the juice of one lemon into a bowl. Crush in 1-2 cloves of garlic. Mix in 2 egg yolks.

creamy lemon butter sauce

Melt 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter. Make sure it’s quite hot – this is what cooks the egg. Slowly, using a whisk, mix the hot butter into the lemon and egg mixture. Be patient, and keep whisking the whole time. This keeps the yolks from scrambling, and makes a smooth, creamy sauce. Pour on the orzo and squash, stir it up so the sauce evenly coats everything, and serve with the salmon!

creamy lemon orzo with butternut squash

We also had lemon butter asparagus: Just melt a little butter in a large frying pan, toss in the asparagus, and squeeze in a little lemon juice. Saute until tender-crisp.

lemon butter asparagus

its good for you So many healthy things in this meal! First of all, everything is all-natural except the orzo, which you could certainly buy an all-natural pasta. I even used real maple syrup! There is no salt. None. (Unless you use salted butter, which would add a small amount) But still tons of flavor. Salmon is full of vitamins and Omega-3s. Butternut squash has tons of fiber, vitamin C, and loads of other vitamins. And asparagus give you more fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and lots of other goodness.

There is a fair amount of butter… but when split between all the servings, it’s not that much per serving. Plus, some natural fats will help your body process and use all those vitamins!

maple balsamic salmon lemon butternut squash orzo and asapragus

 

Maple Balsamic Salmon

~1 lb salmon filet
1/4 c pure maple syrup
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic

1. Preheat oven to 375. Combine syrup, vinegar, and crushed garlic in a small sauce pan on the stove. Bring just to a boil, stirring frequently. Once it boils, remove from heat.

2. Place the salmon on a foil-lined baking sheet, and use a spoon or a basting brush to glaze the salmon. Use about 1/2 of the glaze, saving the rest.  Put it in the oven, and cook for 10 minutes.

3. Pull the salmon out of the oven, and brush/spoon most of the rest of the glaze on top. Put it back in the oven for 10 more minutes.

4. Check if the salmon is done – it should be nice and flaky. If it is, it’s ready to serve! If not, use any glaze that is left, and put it back in the oven for a few more minutes.

Makes 4 servings

Serve with Creamy Lemon Orzo with Butternut Squash and pan-roasted asparagus.

Creamy Lemon Orzo with Butternut Squash

1 c uncooked orzo
1/2 – 1 c butternut squash cut into small chunks
1 lemon
2 egg yolks
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 c (1 stick) butter

1. Chop the squash into small chunks, and place in a small sauce pan with enough water to cover. Cook over medium heat until squash is tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Prepare orzo according to package directions. Drain and mix with cooked squash.

3. While those are cooking, prepare the sauce. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a bowl (make sure to discard any seeds!). Crush in the garlic and whisk in the egg yolks.

4. Melt the butter, making sure it is quite hot. Slowly pour the butter into the lemon-egg mixture, whisking constantly. This will cook the egg but keep it from scrambling. Pour over the hot orzo and squash, mix to coat, and serve.

Makes 6 servings

 

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Whole Wheat Pasta with Ricotta and Asparagus

Pasta is one of my go-to meals. When I don’t feel like coming up with something to cook, we have pasta.

The nice thing is, it can be as simple or complex as you want. And you can have a whole meal in one pot. Add some veggies, some meat, some cheese. It’s actually a great way to use up some of your vegetables, too. Seriously, almost any vegetables taste good in pasta. Just saute them in a little olive oil, and throw ’em in with the noodles and sauce! Or even go without sauce, and just sprinkle (generously!) some cheese on top.

So this was my “I don’t feel like cooking but I need to use up that jar of pasta sauce and that asparagus” dinner. I know, I used jarred pasta sauce… I was lazy. But don’t worry, I’m working on a post for my “5 minute marinara” so be on the lookout for that soon!

whole wheat pasta with ricotta and asparagus

Three of my favorite things about this pasta:

1. It only took about 10 minutes to make, since that’s about how long it took to boil the water and cook the pasta. And I only used two pans, so cleanup was quick too!

2. It’s delicious.

3. its good for you I used whole wheat pasta (you can’t even tell a difference in the taste in angel hair pasta); asparagus, which is full of vitamins; and cottage cheese (I know the title says ricotta, but I was being cheap and using what I had) which has lots of protein.

Start off by putting a big pot of water on to boil. Then chop up your asparagus into 1″ pieces.

asparagus

Put a little olive oil in a skillet, heat it up, add the asparagus, and toss regularly. After a couple minutes, crush in a clove of garlic and sprinkle a little salt and pepper.

garlic roasted asparagus

The water should be boiling by now. Add your pasta, and follow the package instructions. (If you’re using angel hair, it only takes about 4 minutes.)

whole wheat angel hair pasta

Drain the pasta, and put it back in the pot. Pour in the sauce and the ricotta or cottage cheese. Heat through, stirring regularly.

whole pasta with ricotta

By now the asparagus should be done – you want it tender-crisp. If it cooks too long it gets kind of limp and mushy. You can either stir it into the pasta, or serve it on top. Sprinkle some parmesan on top, and enjoy!

whole wheat pasta marinara with ricotta and asparagus

Whole Wheat Pasta with Ricotta and Asparagus

1 package whole wheat angel hair pasta
1 jar marinara sauce, or about 2 cups homemade sauce
1 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
10-12 asparagus shoots
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese

1. Boil a large pot of water for the pasta. While waiting for that, trim the asparagus and cut it into 1″ pieces. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, and add the asparagus, tossing regularly.

2. Once the asparagus has cooked for a few minutes, crush in the clove of garlic, and sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Continue to toss regularly until the asparagus is tender-crisp.

3. Cook the pasta according the package instructions. Drain, and return to pan. Pour in the sauce and ricotta, stir and heat through.

4. Stir in the asparagus, or serve it on top with the parmesan sprinkled on top.