The weather around here has been, in a word, taxing. Forgive me for being so dull as to insist on talking about the weather, but hear me out on this. Last week we woke up to a couple of inches of snow on the ground (on the day before spring break started, no less), but then, as the day wore on and the snow quickly melted, the sun came out and rewarded us with a lovely, mild spring day. The weekend was once again warm and sunny, but then the official start of spring break week brought us torrential rain and strong winds. Right now I have three different coats sitting by the front door because, depending on the time of day, I never know which one the weather will call for (pea coat, rain coat, or light cotton jacket?).
The other unexpected product of this confusing weather pattern is the fact that I can’t figure out what I want to eat. Is it cold and rainy, meaning I am craving pasta and soup? Or is it sunny and breezy, which makes me want to eat light meals of crostini and salad? Sometimes, on a day like last week’s snow-sun barrage, I feel like eating all of those foods, but, unless someone adds a few more work hours into the day, I see little chance of me being able to churn out several different meals at once, just to satisfy my inconsistent cravings.
The good news about the bad weather is that, when confused about what to eat, I tend to come up with something like these salmon cakes. Forging a bond between the light and hearty, I think I have officially created my favorite light, yet substantial, meal. Freshened up with the zing of lemon zest, crisp bits of red bell pepper, and familiar flavors of onion and garlic, these salmon cakes make easy friends with meals both fresh and comforting. You can pair them up with a salad, a big bowl of soft polenta, or that mother of all comfort foods, creamy mashed potatoes. Truth be told, I’d even love to see these tucked inside a crisp ciabatta roll, a fresh squeeze of lemon on top, and a huge slice of tomato underneath. Weather permitting, I might give that very combination a try this summer when picnic weather hits. As of now, with the snow and wind and rain, that seems a long way off, but with these salmon cakes in my repertoire, I think I might just be able to stomach the wait.
Salmon Cakes with Lemon and Dill Recipe
1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds of fresh salmon, pin bones and skin removed
2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 scallions, finely minced
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 small or ½ of 1 large red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
finely minced or grated zest of 1 whole lemon (at least 1 teaspoon total)
¼ teaspoon dried dill
salt and pepper
1 to 2 cups panko bread crumbs
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the salmon half a dozen times until it is well chopped, but not so minced that it has become a paste. Remove salmon to a large bowl. Add garlic, scallions, onion, bell pepper, lemon zest, dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
In a large skillet set over medium heat, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
Place panko on a plate next to the stove.
Using your hands, form salmon mixture into your desired size salmon cake (I prefer a smallish cake about 2 tablespoons large, but you can certainly make each cake larger). Dredge each cake in panko on both sides, then cook in the heated olive oil, being careful never to crown the pan, until the cakes are golden brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
I got about 14 salmon cakes out of this recipe, but your results will vary depending on the size you make your cakes.