I’m super excited to have my friend Leigh Foster guest post today while I am away in California! Leigh is one of the best cooks I know– every time I get to eat her yummy home-cooked food is a huge treat. Plus, she has a nutrition degree, so she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to eating healthy, nourishing foods! She has a new business called Thymely that features her delicious meals, and was gracious enough to share this delicious recipe for Fennel & Slow-Roasted Salmon with us today!! Check out her story and recipe below and leave some love!
Growing up, I had very minimal interest in cooking. Neither of my parents were “foodies” in the least and were satisfied with food that was palatable, kid-friendly and on a very basic level, nutritious. Though we frequently enjoyed dinners at nice restaurants that continually exposed me to a wide variety of foods, my paradigm of home cooking largely revolved around casseroles, ground beef tacos (or ground beef anything, for that matter), Shake’N Bake pork chops (anyone?) and the occasional Hamburger Helper. My preferences have changed greatly since my childhood, but when I look back, I was nothing short of satisfied with the way my family ate. It tasted good. Isn’t that the whole point of food anyways? That’s certainly what I thought.
Now, to shed some positive light on the situation, I want to be clear about my beyond amazing mother who faithfully prepared our meals: She saw to it that there was a good amount of nutrition education that happened in our household. There was simply no room for arguing with my mom about junk food. Gushers and Fruit Roll-Ups were strictly forbidden. Cheese balls were begrudgingly purchased for my dad, but they were clearly designated for him and him alone. There were rules about what sweets we were allowed to consume and how often we could eat them. My two sisters and I each had our own “candy bucket” (which in reality was just a Tupperware decorated with paint pens) out of which we were allowed one piece of candy after dinner. Just one. Way to go mom.
When I was kid, I understood what role protein played in my body. My mom always made it a point to make us a well-rounded breakfast with fruit, grains and protein. She taught us that protein would keep us full throughout our morning at school so that we wouldn’t be hungry until lunchtime. There was also the standard glass of milk at dinner that proceeded far beyond my childhood until I realized in high school that it definitely isn’t cool to order milk when you’re eating at a restaurant with your friends.
So to give my mom credit, there was a basic level of nutrition education in our home that I believe is beyond what most children get today.
I’ve come along way since my Hamburger Helper childhood. In 2013, I graduated from Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Sciences. Today I run a small business called Thymely, cooking and delivering nutritious, home-cooked meals to families.
Thymely started out of my desire to share my belief that home cooking is the most basic and effective way that we can change the American diet, and in tandem, change the trajectory of American health problems. Home cooking requires basic knowledge and understanding of where food comes from, what the components of a meal are, and which cooking techniques create flavorful and delicious meals. If parents would take the minimal amount of time necessary to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge to cook simple meals and then pass these on to their children, the next generation would, at the very least, be able to make informed decisions about their nutrition choices. Instead, most children grow up ignorant of basic nutrition knowledge and cooking skills. Ignorance inevitably leads to poor choices, which lead to a variety of health risks. In my opinion, the most unfortunate situations are where parents are not only neglecting to equip their children with such basic survival skills of food preparation, but are making poor choices for them while they are too young to make choices for themselves. These children start out at a deficit, not only with health risks like obesity and diabetes, but with an ingrained palate for non-nutritious foods.
All in all, I believe in teaching basic nutrition and cooking skills to adults and children alike, as a method of preventing nutrition related diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension. It’s a simple solution to an overwhelming problem, and I don’t pretend to have the slightest idea about how to make this happen on a large scale, but I do want to be a part of the solution. And for the time being, my part is serving the families who purchase from Thymely and educating those around me.
The recipe I’ve chosen to share today is nutritious, simple, and so delicious! Even the most amateur chef can make this with ease. It is one of my favorites to prepare because it is so easy, but also one of my favorites to serve because it comes out perfect every time! It’s fool-proof!
Now I understand that cooking seafood can be tricky. For those of us who didn’t grow up eating fish, it can be a difficult taste to acquire. Using the right cooking techniques can make all the difference. Before I found this recipe, I had never heard of slow-roasting fish. I usually roasted it in the oven at a high temperature for a short amount of time or seared it on the stove. Those techniques can produce a high quality product when done well, but in my opinion, slow-roasting is the way to go! It produces a perfectly tender, never tough or chewy, piece of fish. And did I mention you barely have to do more than turn on your oven?
So whether you’ve made salmon a million times before or are a little intimidated like me, this dish will be a pleasant surprise! The combination of citrus, chile and the licorice taste of fennel is definitely beyond the typical home kitchen and into the realm of a restaurant-quality dish.
FENNEL AND CITRUS SLOW-ROASTED SALMON
- 1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1/2 navel orange, very thinly sliced, seeds removed
- 1/2 lemon, very thinly sliced, seeds removed
- 1 red Fresno chile or jalapeño, with seeds, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 lb. skinless salmon fillet
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 275°. Toss fennel, orange slices, lemon slices, chile, and fennel fronds in a shallow 3-qt. baking dish; season with kosher salt and pepper. Season salmon with kosher salt and place on top of fennel mixture. Pour oil over.
Roast until salmon is just cooked through (the tip of a knife will slide through easily and flesh will be slightly opaque), 30–40 minutes for medium-rare.