trying new things – crispy skinned trout and roasted corn and quinoa salad

It’s always a little nerve-racking to try a new recipe, especially when you are trying to impress someone else.  Boyfriend is not a huge fish eater and he claimed to not like quinoa, but luckily he is always willing to at least try – and I’m glad he did!  He actually liked the fish and the quinoa!  I’ve only made quinoa once or twice before, and it was always a little bland – but I really loved this salad!  I bought the red quinoa from Trader Joes, and used the recipe on the bag as inspiration.  The result was a quinoa salad that had hints of a fresh pico de gallo flavor.  It was light and refreshing, and was very easy to make ahead of time.  I cooked the quinoa and browned the corn, and let those two cool before adding any other ingredients.  This salad would be easily customized – I just used whatever veggies I had on hand, honestly.

To cook the quinoa, I used veggie broth rather than water.  Next time, I would use chicken broth because I was not a huge fan of the Trader Joes veggie broth.  It smelled like V8 tomato juice.

The trout was from Trader Joes too.  Their fish usually doesn’t look very appealing, but I thought I’d give it a try because the fish at my local market is $20 per pound!  We got 3 small fillets for $9 total, which boyfriend was very happy about.  Cooking the fish doesn’t take long, so save it until the last minute.  Boyfriend had a great idea and suggested I added some sauce to the fish.  I ground up some arugula, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice in my food processor and the resulting “pesto” tasted great on the fish.   I served everything with some lemon wedges and a great bottle of white wine from Napa that a good friend gave to us as a gift.

trout and quinoaQuinoa Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth/veggie broth/water (if you are boring)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup corn
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro
  • 1/2 jalapeno (optional)

Quinoa Salad Directions:

  • Cook the quinoa!  Just put the broth and quinoa in a small pot and bring to a boil.  Then let it simmer for 15-20 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  • Meanwhile, you want to brown the corn.  I used frozen corn, so I bet you could use any other kind.  Just brown it in a pan with some olive oil on high heat.  It will seem like its not browning, but just wait a little while.  It will!
  • Let the corn and quinoa cool in the fridge.  At this point you can put them together in a bowl.  While this is happening, chop the cilantro, tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno.  Mix these into the cooled corn/quinoa mixture.
  • Drizzle with the juice of two limes and serve!

Trout Directions:

  • Right before serving dinner, rinse and dry the trout.  Salt the meaty side and then flip over.  Really really really dry the skin side as much as you can.  This was the first time I successfully got crispy skin on fish, and I think part of that was due to the DRY skin.  Salt the skin.  You may need more salt than you think.  Imagine the skin as a fish-skin potato chip.
  • Heat some vegetable oil in a large pan.  Give it a lot of time to heat up – you want the oil to “fry” the skin a bit.
  • Without crowding the pan, place the fish skin-side-down in the hot oil.  It should sizzle a lot – if not, the pan isn’t hot enough.
  • Be patient!  This is the hardest part for me.  Let the fish cook most of the way through while staying skin-side-down.  The skin should turn a golden-brown color.  This should take somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes.  Then flip the fish and cook for another minute to get it cooked through.  Place on a plate skin-side-up.
  • Serve with the sauce I described before or just with some lemon.
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