Vacation is good for the soul and the mind. The body? Not so much.
My back hurts from the bed I initially thought to comfortable, but morning after morning found to be quite the opposite. (Although the view I woke up to more than made up for the lack of a feather mattress and pillow-y down comforter.) My body is completely sluggish from the minimum five pounds I packed on in such a brief span of time. Heck, my nails even hurt from the gel polish I neurotically peeled off until each and every finger was devoid of color – Cara Mia Crimson does not belong on fingers in the dead of winter. Needless to say, after basking in the sunshine, shoveling copious amounts of guacamole into my face, and drinking more margaritas than I care to admit for one straight week, I’m ready to get back into some regular eating and drinking habits.
Although that might be easier said than done since I’ve landed myself smack dab in the middle of one of the greatest weeks in Kansas City – restaurant week. The week in which all diets go out the window. Any noble aspirations to give up alcohol for a “clean” end of January are set aside. And I dine out like a boss. Oy. You probably have one in your neck of the woods. Local restaurants put together fixed course menus with a set price, and some of the proceeds go to a variety of local charities. It’s a great excuse to get together with your girlfriends, put on a pair of stilettos and skinny jeans and order a nice bottle (or two!) of red wine. So far, I have three sets of dinner plans and a lunch date with one of my girlfriends on the books, and I’m giddy with anticipation.
Because these dinners are my time to taste food at some of the more expensive, special occasion establishments in Kansas City, I do not plan on restricting my calorie intake in the slightest – bring on ALL the lobster mac and cheese, pasta tastings and chocolate-laced desserts. This mantra leaves me in a rather precarious position since I desperately want to get my eating habits back on track; otherwise, I fear I’ll be trading in my skinny jeans for sweat pants and stilettos for slippers, as I won’t be leaving the house.
So like every other foodie out there, I’m hopping on the bandwagon with the one bright food spot available during this never-ending cold blast we call winter – citrus. It also so happens that citrus is the perfect ingredient to facilitate fresh, healthy eating, while staying completely seasonal.
I love this dish because it’s hearty and filling enough for a comforting winter meal, but it’s also deceptively light and bright tasting. It’s hard for me to choose a favorite component of this dish, but I have to say, there is nothing, nothing like a seasoned filet of salmon cooked to perfection – the top, irresistibly crusty; the inside buttery and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
That alone…is the perfect meal.
But as the name implies, there’s more than just a perfect piece of salmon involved in this meal. There is, as the name also implies, grapefruit vinaigrette. One that’s tart and sweet and bright and perfect drizzled over the hot fish straight out of the oven.
There’s also garlicky kale, which serves as the base of the dish, the accumulated juice from the salmon and vinaigrette saturating the hearty greens. A garnish of badly severed grapefruit segments gives a tart finish to the complete meal.
I don’t say this often, because I’m not a restaurant chef, nor will I ever be a restaurant chef, but this…this is worthy of a restaurant.
- 2 - 6 ounce center-cut salmon filets
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ shallot, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4 cups kale (of any variety)
- 1 grapefruit
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a cast-iron skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil to a medium-high heat.
- Season salmon filets liberally with salt. Place salmon skin-side up in the skillet, cook 2-3 minutes until salmon is crispy. Do not try to move the fish, once it's ready, it will release from the pan. Flip over so the skin is down and pop into the oven to finish cooking. Cook another 2-3 minutes until salmon is finished cooking.
- In a medium skillet, heat butter over a medium-high heat. Add shallots, cook one minute. Add kale and garlic. Cook until kale is wilted, about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Cut top and bottom off grapefruit. Using a knife cute the peel and pith off. Again using a paring knife, cut grapefruit segments out, making sure to cut into between membrane. Squeeze three tablespoons of juice out of remaining grapefruit.
- In a small bowl, whisk three tablespoons grapefruit, lemon juice, honey and sugar together. Slowly whisk in remaining olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Split kale between two plates. Top with salmon and spoon vinaigrette on top. Garnish with grapefruit segments.