Fish and fruit make this dinner a breeze

August 14, 1991|By Pat Dailey | Pat Dailey,Chicago Tribune

Simple menus are always welcome, whether the call is for an after-work family dinner or a more upscale menu for entertaining. During the summer when fresh produce fills the marketplace, little is needed to enhance natural flavors, and simple preparations are the best enhancements.

This light fish menu highlights some of the best bets of summer. Salmon is one of many choices. The market undoubtedly will offer other selections, so the guiding force should be what looks best.

There still is some hesitancy about cooking fish at home, most of it because of confusion about cooking it. With so many methods of preparing it, it's hard to know which to pick. With little experience, cooks often worry that they'll undercook or overcook the fish. Baking is an easy way to become initiated into the world of fish cookery.

Baked Salmon

3 tablespoons homemade or bottled pesto sauce

4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons grainy mustard

Coarsely cracked black pepper

4 salmon steaks, about 1 1/2 inches thick

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the pesto sauce, vinegar, mustard and a generous amount of pepper in a small dish. Coat one side of each salmon steak with a thick layer.

Place fish, coated side up, on a foiled-lined baking sheet and bake eight to 10 minutes. Turn with a metal spatula and spread remaining pesto mixture over the top. Continue baking until fish is cooked through, six to eight minutes longer. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves four.

Thyme-Roasted Roots

4 small turnips, peeled

2 small onions, peeled

3 small red new potatoes, peeled

6 medium shallots, peeled

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the turnips, onions and potatoes into one-inch pieces. Cut the shallots in half. Combine the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the oil, thyme, salt and a generous amount of fresh ground pepper. Transfer to a jelly roll pan, spreading the vegetables in an even layer.

Roast in oven, stirring several times, until vegetables are tender and brown at the edges, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve hot. Serves four.

Blueberry Cheesecake


2 cups crushed cookie crumbs

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

12 ounces (1 1/2 8-ounce packages) cream cheese

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups blueberries


2 cups sour cream

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teapoons pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Have a nine-inch springform pan ready.

For the crust, combine the cookie crumbs and butter and mix well. Press evenly into the bottom and about one-inch up the sides of the springform pan. Set aside.

For the filling, combine the sugar, eggs, cream cheese and vanilla in a food processor. Process until completely smooth and light, about two minutes. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Pour filling into crust. Bake until cake is almost set in center. Test the cake by jiggling the pan slightly. It still should be slightly soft in the middle though set at the edges.

While cake is baking, mix the sour cream, sugar and vanilla for the topping. Carefully pour over the baked cake. Return to the oven and bake seven to eight minutes longer, until set. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate at least six hours before serving.

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