Sometimes dinner comes together through the sum of the parts in the fridge and it ends up becoming this classic dish that you want to make again and again. As it turned out I had some leftover Turkey Bacon in the fridge, a beet in desperate need of attention, handful of spinach and salmon that I had just picked up.
I did not grow up eating Warm Bacon Salads, but when I discovered people did this to salad I was shocked and jealous. Bacon on salad? Fantastic. I have since make them from time to time, but the combination with beets was quite lovely.
Turkey bacon enhanced the sliced beets and the combo wilted the spinach. With a simple Grilled piece of Salmon an extra side seemed an order. Polenta comes together with ease and grace, needing just enough attention to require your occasional stir, but not so much you are trapped at the stove.
Of course the Grilled Salmon needed to compete with the Beet Salad without being overshadowed. So I mashed together some fresh herbs with lemon and whisked in plain yogurt. Drizzled on top of the salmon and viola! Weeknight dinner using up our fridge in all the best ways.
I started with the polenta, next the herb-cream sauce for the salmon, then the bacon-beet mess and as soon as I was able to let them beets steam, the salmon hit the grill.
I soak my polenta in milk prior as it gives it an extra boost of creaminess.
½ cup Medium-Grind Cornmeal (aka Polenta or Grits)
3/4 cup milk (anywhere from non-fat to half & half, depending on your preference)
2 cups chicken broth
Place the cornmeal in a small pourable bowl, cover with the milk and allow to soak for at least 15 minutes.
After the soaking, heat the chicken broth until just simmering. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the polenta with the milk, whisking rapidly until incorporated. Allow to come up to a simmer again. Reduce the heat if the polenta begins to sputter and spit at you (it is super itchy burning hot when it hits your skin- not pleasant). A low simmer is good for about 10-15 minutes until the polenta is to your desired thickness.
Warm Beet, Spring Onion & Turkey Bacon Salad
2 slices Turkey bacon
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small beet, trimmed and peeled with a vegetable peeler
1 spring onion or leek, sliced thin
3 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon Lemon Olive Oil (or 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil with 1 teaspoon lemon zest-combined)
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the turkey bacon and a slight splash of olive oil. Cook about 3-5 minutes on each side until it is your desired crispiness (I like my Turkey Bacon crispy as I find it to be dry & chewy otherwise- not a big fan of burnt though, so watch it!)
While your bacon is cooking, cut the beet into four chunks and then slice thinly- the thinner the slice the faster they will cook.
Remove the bacon once cooked through, add the remaining olive oil and sauté the sliced beets about 3-5 minutes tossing fairly consistently so there is an even flavor (aka fat) on each beet. Sprinkle with a slight pinch of salt, add in about ¼ cup of water and cover with a lid to steam slightly. Add more water, lid & steam until the beets are your desired tenderness. Once almost ready, toss in the spring onion slices and toss 2-3 minutes. Slice the turkey bacon thinly into pieces and toss in to the beets, tossing until just warmed and incorporated. Squeeze lemon juice all over it.
If enjoying separate from the Salmon & Polenta, arrange the Spinach Greens on each plate and toss the beets onto the greens until they wilt slightly. Drizzle the lemon olive oil on each plate, especially taking care for any spinach leaves untouched by the beets.
Basil-Mint Yogurt Sauce
1/4 cup basil (or about 6-10 leaves)
¼ cup mint (about 6-10 leaves)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons thick Greek yogurt
Rinse the basil & mint leaves and air dry. Tear into smaller pieces than place in a mortar with the lemon juice and salt mash them up with the pestle until shredded apart. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you mash it.
Alternatively, mince up the herbs and stir in a bowl with the salt and lemon juice, pressing the herbs against the side of the bowl to release the herbs flavors.
Once the herbs are minced or mashed into a lemon-salty-olive oil-y mess, stir in the Greek yogurt.
Simple Grilled Salmon
2 5-6 ounce pieces Salmon
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt and pepper, seasoned to taste
Rub the salmon with the olive oil or rub the grill with the oil where you will place the salmon. Season the salmon with salt and pepper to taste. Heat the grill to just below high heat. Place the Salmon flesh side against the grill. Grill for 2-3 minutes, loosen from the grill and rotate 90 degrees. Grill for another 2-3 minutes and then flip over sear skin side down for 2-6 minutes until the salmon is barely firm to the touch and slightly flaky.
To assemble the meal:
Place the polenta on one half of the plate. Arrange the spinach leaves on the other half, drizzle on the warm beets allowing the spinach to wilt and sigh slightly. Place the salmon in between and plop on the herb-yogurt sauce.