Grilled Salmon and Potato Salad
Last summer, when I packed up my stuff in Boston and moved it all out to Walla Walla, I brought along the mystery grill. The grill showed up a few years back, on a rainy Fourth of July, but for whatever reason was never even unpacked from the box. It first saw the light of day in Walla Walla, when I used it to cook the first meal I made in my new house. I intended to use it often last summer, but instead, I found myself intimidated by it, and uninterested in spending the time and energy required to start a fire when I was cooking for myself alone.
The grill is a tiny thing, a little Smokey Joe. And last week I decided to get over my fear of fire-starting, pull it out of the shed, and give it back its rightful place on my porch. And despite the freezer full of beef waiting to be eaten, I once again decided to cook some salmon on my little grill.
I didn’t intend this meal to turn into a salad, but at the last minute, it just seemed right. And it was. I grilled the potatoes up a bit, just to give them a slightly smokey flavor, and spread them over a bed of tender lettuce. I flaked the grilled salmon over that, and with a drizzle of lemony vinaigrette and some Parmesan cheese, ended up with an incredibly satisfying dinner. And I mean satisfying not just to my belly, but to my mind, for finally conquering the coals and cooking food over fire without the help of anyone (except some experts on the internet, who taught me that newspaper under the coals helps immensely with keeping that fire going).
This really couldn’t be simpler. I boiled the potatoes first, and just threw them on the grill for a few minutes, in an attempt to give them a little crispiness on the outside. It didn’t work that well, but they did taste better for being over the coals. The salmon was simply dressed in olive oil and pepper, and grilled for about four minutes on each side. Then I just tossed everything with some lettuce and carrots, and a drizzle of simple lemon Dijon vinaigrette.
The rest of the salmon ended up in a crunchy pasta salad, full of flavor, which I’ll share later this week. But for a simple dinner for one, this was outstanding.
Grilled Salmon and Potato Salad
- 2 small new potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 salmon fillets (if you want enough left over for another meal; 1 will suffice if it’s just for you)
- 1 or 2 large handfuls of lettuce
- 1 small carrot, sliced
- Parmesan cheese to taste
- 1-2 Tablespoons of lemon dijon vinaigrette (recipe below)
Set a pot of water on to boil, and boil the potatoes just until they’re cooked, about 15 minutes. Drain them well. When the coals are ready, grill the potatoes for about 4 or 5 minutes on each side, just long enough to give them some grill marks. (I might have jumped the gun on my coals a bit, because my potatoes didn’t seem to cook much more on the grill, but they were delicious, nonetheless). If your grill is big enough, you can cook the salmon at the same time as the potatoes, about 4 minutes on each side. My grill is tiny, so I had to remove the potatoes and set them aside before grilling the salmon.
Once the salmon and potatoes are done, put the lettuce, carrots, and potatoes in a bowl. Flake the salmon over it all, then drizzle the whole bit with vinaigrette. Top with a bit of Parmesan, and enjoy.
Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
This is a simple vinaigrette that I make all the time. It will last about a week in the refrigerator, and should be enough for three or four salads.
- juice from 1 large lemon
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 large pinch of dried or fresh dill
- salt and pepper to taste
- about 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
Simply mix all the ingredients in a lidded jar and shake well to emulsify.
This foray with the grill convinced me that it’s a totally do-able endeavor and well worth it, even if I am just cooking for myself. It was lovely to sit outside on a perfect Walla Walla evening, smelling the coals burning and waiting patiently for the coals to be ready. It was a perfect chance to slow down and enjoy the sun and the breeze and my backyard, and somehow, that made a normal Tuesday evening feel extra special. And I could use some extra special weekdays, so this summer, I’m leaving the grill in it’s rightful spot, right there on my porch, ready to be put to use.