Our busy little babe turned FOUR months old last week, and we celebrated by having her earn her wings on an inaugural flight to see some of our dearest friends for a Memorial Day weekend celebration in Denver. Home skillet was a total champ; she garnered way more than her fair share of oohs and aahs from strangers in the airport with her flirty gummy grin, decided that she would master the art of reaching for and grasping a toy to shove in her little mouth (these Chewbeads were phenomenal for that), and slept blissfully for most of the relatively snappy two-hour airtime till we touched down in the Mile High City. (The rest of the time was spent playing peek-a-boo with our good-natured back-row neighbor, which was also insanely adorable. #PROUDMAMA)
James insisted that I only pack a carry on, and after doing my fair share of foot stomping and pouting (because one singular carry on for a fashionable four-month old and myself?!) I finally acquiesced. It took me much longer to strategically pack than I care to admit, but for the first time in a long time I actually wore every.single.item in the darn suitcase, and with a couple of mid-trip emergency Beatrix laundry loads thrown into the mix, we had exactly enough for four days worth of fun in the sun with our favorite Coloradans. Who knew I could be so utilitarian?!
As I knew I would and as I always do, intense I-miss-you-Colorado feelings welled up the moment I stepped off the plane. Our AMAZING (seriously unbeatable) hosts, Chris and Ashley, who already have three children under the age of four at home, took on five adult house guests and two additional small children, and their home was humming with early morning squawks, squeals of laughter, and the pitter-patter of tiny feet zooming up and down the wooden stairs. Whereas a scant five years ago there would have been late bedtimes for all, silence until at least ten o’clock in the morning, and
probably definitely some hangovers, vacations these days – awash in diaper changes, boo-boo kisses, and minivan rentals (not even joking about that last one) – look and sound quite a bit different! And I love it.
Highlights of the trip include Bea having her first dip in the pool (and finally fitting into her cheetah print bathing suit, team one piece for the win!), making our yearly pilgrimage to Red Rocks to see a My Morning Jacket show, and spending a day and night in Boulder with our old neighbors and cherished friends, dining on grilled quesadillas al fresco and catching up over wine at dusk on the deck. We packed a whole lot into those four days, and arrived home understandably beat, ready to sleep in our own bed and snuggle all the animals….our first (furry!) children.
Though we ate nearly all of our meals in over the course of the trip, I still was jonesing for a home cooked meal – cooked in our home, that is – and dashed off the market for some fresh ingredients as soon as we were settled. This seared salmon dish with coconut cauliflower rice might look impressive, but it is seriously simple to toss together – taking only a scant 20 minutes from start to finish – and was light, bright, and exactly the detox we needed after a long weekend indulging in waffles and cheeseburgers. (I may also have eaten a hotdog drenched in yellow mustard somewhere along the way but that’s neither here nor there, now is it?)
If you haven’t had cauliflower “rice” before you are missing out; all it is is cauliflower florets buzzed about in the food processor till the bits are as small as grains of rice, that are then quickly sautéed and used exactly as you would cooked rice. It offers a very similar texture but without the starchiness, carbs, or heaviness, and I am obsessed with making it during the week to keep things on the lighter side. This iteration was made creamy with a tipple of coconut milk, spicy with a diced jalapeño, and green-ified with a bundle of chopped asparagus spears. The salmon was sliced into thin slabs, quickly marinated in a crazy-flavorful trifecta of soy, fish sauce, and brown sugar, and then seared off in a super hot pan shimmering with coconut oil. Fresh cilantro brightened the whole thing up, and it was literally exactly what we both wanted to eat on a steamy-for-June (read: seventy-five-degree!) Mill Valley evening.
- 1 lb wild or sustainably farm-raised salmon, cut lengthwise into 4 thin slices
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp of coconut oil (for cooking)
- 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed and sliced on the diagonal into 2" pieces
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil, divided
- 1 lb cauliflower rice (made from 1 large head of cauliflower, see instructions below)
- ⅓ can full fat coconut milk, plus the coconut cream skimmed off top
- zest of 1 lime
- lime wedges (from zested lime) for serving
- a handful (1/2 bunch) of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped, plus some stalks left whole for garnish
- 1 fresh jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and diced (save a few pieces for garnish)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- kosher salt
- At least 30 minutes (and up to 2 hours) before you'd like to prepare the dish marinate your salmon. Whisk the soy sauce, fish sauce, and brown sugar together until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes (it's ok if some sugar granules are still visible). Place the fish in a ziplock bag or shallow bowl, cover with the marinade, and place in the fridge.
- When you are ready to start your supper, pull the fish from the fridge and let it sit to the side, still in the marinade, just to take the chill off. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, and add 1 Tbsp of the coconut oil. Sauté the asparagus, seasoning it with a generous pinch of salt, and tossing it until it is just becoming tender but still mostly crisp (about 2 minutes). Do not let it get mushy or overcooked here! Push the asparagus to the sides of the pan, and heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of coconut oil in the center. Add the riced cauliflower, grated garlic, and diced jalapeño, season the mixture with a generous pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally and mixing in well with the asparagus spears, until the cauliflower is cooked just to al dente, 2 minutes (it will continue to cook a bit after you add the coconut milk). Add the coconut cream skimmed from the top of the can, the coconut milk, and lime zest to the pan, stir well, and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer until the "rice" has absorbed a good bit of the creamy coconut milk, then hold to the side over a very low flame to keep warm. Stir in the chopped cilantro (save a few whole stalks for garnish).
- Heat a heavy skillet (I like cast iron) over high heat. Add the last 1 Tbsp of coconut oil, and heat until the oil is shimmering and the skillet is very hot. Sear the salmon slices, wide side down (so the thin strip of skin is to the side and is not touching the pan), for just about 1 minute per side, until the salmon is a toasty golden brown and cooked through to your liking.
- Plate your dish by spooning the cauliflower rice mixture into two bowls, and topping each bowl with 2 slices of salmon. Garnish with slices of jalapeño and fresh cilantro, and serve immediately.
- 1 large head of cauliflower
- Discard any green leaves from the head of cauliflower. Remove the florets and roughly chop. Roughly chop the center core. Pulse the cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor, in batches if necessary, until you have tiny pieces of cauliflower that are about the same size as grains of rice.
- To cook, simply sauté over medium-high heat in a bit of butter or oil of your choice and with a generous pinch of salt until the cauliflower is al dente and has a similar texture to cooked rice, 3-4 minutes.