A Tale of Three Dinners

I've been in a bit of a dinner rut lately, just cooking the same old things from memory night after night. Fortunately for the whole family, a few good recipes have fallen into my life lately. Here is the story of one dinner which led to another, and then another.

Dinner One: Asian-inspired Salmon Burgers

This first recipe is from Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking by Beth Hensperger. The same author co-wrote Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, which is a frequently-used title on my cookbook shelf. The recipe is actually for Tuna Burgers, but of course I messed with it. Here it is:

Wasabi Mayo
3 green onions
one 1½ inch chunk of fresh ginger
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp wasabi powder (I used European horseradish)
½ cup mayonnaise

3 green onions
one 1½ inch chunk of fresh ginger
1 to 1¼ pounds tuna steaks (I used frozen salmon fillets because I am so cheap)
¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks (OMG genius!!!)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
4 buns (I actually ended up making eight burgers)
Butter lettuce leaves (hah - I found some old romaine at the back of the fridge)

  1. To make the mayo, blend all the ingredients together. I actually just chopped up the choppable stuff and mixed it together, and it was fine. Stick it all in a bowl and put it in the fridge while you make the burgers.

  2. Chop up or food-process the green onions and ginger. Cut one quarter of the tuna into ¼ inch cubes, and put the rest into the food processor with the butter and the onions and ginger. Pulse to combine. (Pause to marvel at the notion of mixing the butter right into the burger, and how it completely destroys any healthful properties of the fish. Oh, but it's going to be so good.) Put it all in a bowl and mix it with the diced fish and the soy sauce, sesame oil, and pepper. Shape into four equal-size patties. (As I said, I made eight little ones.)

  3. Preheat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Brown patties for three minutes on the first side and three to four on the other, until done.

  4. Serve patties on buns with wasabi mayo and lettuce.

Yum! We loved them.

Dinner Two: Couscous Salad

My friend Tanya makes couscous salad all the time: couscous, parsley, diced red pepper, cucumber, celery, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. It's delicious and it keeps and travels well. Inspired by that, I used the leftover mayo to make my own version with couscous, soy beans, broccoli, and grated carrot. Another delicious hit.

Dinner Three: Mini Frittatas

I've been getting ParentsCanada magazine lately—against my will; it comes with Cordelia's Chirp magazine—and while I'm still sitting on the fence as to its usefulness as a parenting magazine, I do seem to clip recipes out of every single issue that shows up in my mailbox. This month they had lunchbox recipes, and one of them was for little frittatas baked in muffin cups. Here's their recipe:

Mini Frittatas

2 cups filling: cooked and chopped vegetables, torn fresh herbs, cooked spaghetti, cooked crumbled sausage, ham or bacon, shredded roast chicken or a combination of any of these
5-6 large eggs
¼ cup milk
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, cheddar, or other cheese
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F
  2. Sauté raw veggies (if you're using them in your filling) so they don't release liquid in the frittatas and make them soggy
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and salt and pepper to taste. Add your fillings and if you like, some grated or crumbled cheese.
  4. Divide the mixture among muffin tins that have been sprayed with nonstick spray and sprinkle with grated cheese.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until puffed and golden. (I actually baked it for ten or fifteen minutes longer—they wouldn't brown for me.) Serve warm for dinner or cool completely before packing up for lunch.

So I followed that recipe, using about 1¾ cups of the couscous salad from the day before as the filling, along with a can of tuna. They turned out awesome. The kids love them and I will totally be making this recipe for lunches.

So there you go: tuna burgers → couscous salad → frittatas. Yum.