cedar plank it!

I had been doing some reading and stumbled upon a list of “7 of the healthiest foods you should eat but aren’t.”

Among the items on the list were sardines, for their “heart-healthy, mood-boosting omega-3s” and I was surprised (although it makes sense) that because of their low man on the whole circle-of-life-totem-pole-thing-status, they don’t harbor lots of toxins like their larger brethren. Also on the list were pomegranates. Being persian, pomegranates are a main stay, and the recent hullabaloo about them only reinforced my reasoning for why my ancients incorporated this sexy minx of a fruit into our culture. Our anscestors seemed to have the ability to know what was good for us, without having to study it to death scientifically. Oatmeal made it as well, and we eat plenty of in the morning, and even had the will to exnay the purchase of the sugary single-packet kind, and instead opt for warehouse size bags of plain oatmeal. Boring yes. But with a little honey and touch of cinnamon, plus being late in the morning pretty regularly, you manage to get it down your gullet no problem, and then later feel good about yourself for doing so.

A green-leafy on the list is kale, which I feel is what pomegranate was to 2011, acai was to 2010, and blueberries were to 2009 in the category of “superfoods.” I’ve definitely experimented with similar hearty greens, but not kale. (If you’re curious, this is my favorite recipe for preparing it. I haven’t used it for kale, but I have used it for mustard greens and a couple different kinds of chard. They both came out fabulous.) And not surprisingly, was quinoa. Ever cooked it before? It’s much like couscous in terms of preparation, but I rather enjoy the more interesting texture. Also, each little bubble is packed with fiber and protein.

After the read, in a subsequent occurrence of random hare in unthinkable places, I up and decided to make fish. But I didn’t feel like a can of fish, and although we know it’s good for us, I rarely make fish anymore because I can’t stand the smell in the house.  And then, the phrase “cedar-plank” popped into my head.

Cedar-whaaat?

Oh yeah. Cedar plank.

I did a quick search online, and noticed that my local warehouse store had 6 for $10. Perfect. Because said store also has amazing seafood, to include hugemongous slabs of sustainably-farmed salmon, that serendipitously, were the perfect size for the planks that had dove into my cart as I was walking by.

And what goes better with cedar-planked salmon? Roasted veggies and quinoa! Duh!

So…back at home:

– Cedar plank soaking in water for 2 hours.

– Went to an appointment, then picked up some veggies.

– This meal’s veggies included baby carrots, broccolini and brown crimini mushrooms. The only thing I cut was the stems off the broccolini. Everything else stayed large and in charge, as it should be, when roasting veggies. I threw everything in a bowl, with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. I think this is a place where you can overdo it a bit on the olive oil and it would be okay.

– Oven on at 400 degrees. When fully heated, veggies get thrown on a foil-covered baking sheet and thrown in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until they look, well….roasted. Give a quick flip halfway through, then spread the back out again on the foil.

– After the veggies go in, the grill got turned on at high for a pre-heat.When heated, salmon checked for bones (thank you Costco for having them all removed for me), and laid skin side down on the cedar-plank, kosher salted, peppered, then blanketed with 4 cloves of sliced garlic, 1/2 white onion rings, and a drizzle of spanish olive oil.

– Plank on grill, timed for about 20 minutes. Keep a spray bottle on hand to spray on plank flareups. The planks are supposed to get a little firey, so don’t be scared.

– While waiting for veggies and fish, prep the quinoa. One cup grains to 2 cups water, and I like to put about a 3/4 cube of bullion. Usually one cube works for 2 cups of water, but I was afraid the grains would be too salty. I’m glad I cut off a quarter cube; it worked out perfectly.

I didn’t think there would be much of a difference, and I purposely kept the spices to just salt and pepper (which is REALLY difficult for me to do) because I wanted to taste the simple flavors of good, fresh food prepared in delicious ways.

My goodness, all of that was worth the effort. And there really wasn’t much effort to be honest. Soak the dang cedar-plank before you leave for errands. Or start the soak in the morning before work. Salmon is easy to find with the skin on. Buy it! Use a dry rub if you want, or try different ingredients on top, like tomato and basil, or lemon and thyme. Rosemary and orange slices, anyone? I mean the possibilities are endless. The veggies I got were perfect, as they needed little preparation, save for the broccoli stem chops and the cleaning off of mushrooms; not much different than what I normally do when I prep veggies. And quinoa is incredibly easy. Also, we may have been drinking a lovely sauvignon blanc.

I guess what I’m saying here is that I’d like to wrap up this post in my usual way, which is to say, just do it. Do the cedar planking to whatever type of meat you want (well, except for things like steak, because you usually do not want to slow-cook steak, you rather want to quickly sear it and get a little red out). Start with fish. It’s easy. But then move on to chicken, and then tell me about it. You can do ribs too. That will be about three tries down the road.

Which is fine, because I have five more planks with which to experiment.

Yum : )

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