Banana dessert cooks first in substitute-friendly meal, broiled from finish to start Zucchini and salmon in mint condition

FAST & FRESH

February 09, 1994|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Special to The Sun

In this menu it's important to pay as much attention to technique as to the food items -- the latter can be interchanged at your pleasure. Salmon can be traded for other fish fillets, or even for boneless skinless chicken breasts, or some cuts of pork. Crookneck squash, tomato halves or even eggplant can replace the zucchini. If you want a spicier meal, use cayenne pepper instead of paprika or try other favorite herbs in lieu of the ones suggested here.

This meal makes full use of one cooking source from entree to dessert. Start with broiling the dessert and then hold that in the broiler-warmed oven until you are ready to eat it. Keep the broiler rack in the same position for all the cooking steps.

To begin the dessert, slice 2 to 3 bananas in half lengthwise. Place on a foil-lined broiler pan, inside portion up. Top this with about 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Place under broiler and cook until glazed and bubbly. Remove and dust with 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg and splash with rum, if desired. Remove foil with bananas and place all of this on a holding pan in the warm oven. Later, remove from foil and place on serving dishes.

The rice medley should take about 20 minutes, so get that started just before beginning the salmon.

Fresh herbs can be expensive to purchase for one use, but you don't have to let the remainder go to waste after you make this meal. You can lay the herbs out on a flat plate or small sheet pan in your refrigerator and let them dehydrate, uncovered, for about two weeks. Then, crumble and place in an airtight small jar and store with your spices in a cool dry place.

Items you should have on hand are: honey, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, pilaf mix with vegetables, bananas (not too ripe), brown sugar, nutmeg, rum (optional).

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list: 2 medium zucchini; 4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets, about 1 inch thick, skin removed; 1 bunch fresh mint; 1 bunch fresh basil.

Salmon on minted zucchini

Serves 4

2 medium zucchini

3 tablespoons honey, melted

2 teaspoons freshly chopped mint

2 teaspoons freshly chopped basil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets, about 1 inch thick, skin removed

paprika

Heat broiler. Place rack position 2 inches from heat element. Line broiler pan with foil.

Trim ends of zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Brush inside lightly with a little of the honey, salt and pepper. Place on grill rack and broil until browned and bubbly -- about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove and cool on a cutting board until cool enough to slice. Slice very thinly and then place in a medium-size bowl. Add mint, basil, balsamic vinegar and toss. Keep warm while salmon cooks.

Meanwhile, place salmon fillets on the same broiler pan, brush the tops and sides lightly with honey, sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Broil for about 5 or 6 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Turn and drizzle bottom side with honey and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil another 5 minutes. Fillets should be browned and quite firm to the touch but not hard.

Place an equal portion of zucchini on each plate to form a bed. Top with a salmon fillet. Garnish with additional mint and basil. Serve immediately.

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