Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nuggets of Wisdom

As a lifelong picky eater, I really can’t relate to my oldest niece sometimes. Like this, at dinner one night:

“I just don’t know what I want. Only two vegetables? I really want the beets. And the Brussels sprouts. AND the squash.”

She lost me after “don’t know what I want.” Mystified, and possibly a little frightened, DH and I looked at each other. The kid wasn’t putting on an act – it was her first visit to The Colonnade, we were feeding her WAY late (like past-her-bedtime late), she was seriously hungry and as long as olives aren’t involved she loves her veggies.

Figuring there’s a sure Ticket To Hell if you don’t give a child Brussels sprouts when she wants them, Sweetie used one of his side dish options for the sprouts. And Cutie happily gobbled them up, in addition to the beets from my salad and the sweet potatoes that came with her burger.


As an adult, I call myself a “food snob” instead of a “picky eater” although, really, it’s the same thing. I’m super-snobby about Italian food and my sister and I will go to dramatic lengths to avoid ever eating at Olive Garden. And yet, my mother insists that for a SOLID YEAR, sometime before kindergarten, I ate nothing but Spaghetti-O’s. A concoction that I haven’t touched for 30 years, and that caused me to raise an eyebrow when Sweetie told me in our dating days that one of his specialties was “Spaghetti-O’s Primavera.”


So with kids, you just never know. What causes a good sleeper to suddenly be ready to play at 1:30 AM? What causes a seemingly-happy baby to start screaming in the supermarket halfway through the week’s only food-shopping opportunity? What makes a toddler love oatmeal today and projectile vomit at the sight of it tomorrow?

No one knows. The books don’t know, the experts don’t know, the mothers of 12 don’t know, they just work around it.

And yet, they all seem to love McNuggets – which, in my food-snobby opinion, aren’t actually food at all.

If, for marketing purposes, you want to call these “Salmon Nuggets” it may just get the little ones to give these fabulous salmon patties a whirl. Oddly, though, they call for raisins which I simply do not understand. Raisins belong in some salads, oatmeal, oatmeal cookies, and granola. Fish? Seriously??? I doubt even the Brussels sprouts-loving Cutie would touch it.

The salsa is absolutely perfect on the fish, and also works beautifully on chips or chicken.

Salmon Balls/Nuggets/Croquettes with Fresh Tomato SalsaSelf, 10/2002
Tomato Salsa
2 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes, seeded, peeled, and diced
3 scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley (yes, fresh – dried parsley will taste musty and have a weird mouth-feel)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp chopped fresh basil (yes, fresh)
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Combine everything in a bowl. Season with pepper. Cover and set aside. Don’t add salt until serving – it pulls flavor from tomatoes.

Salmon Balls
1 lb. fresh salmon fillet, chopped into ¼-inch pieces (you can also use the pouches of salmon that are available now)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
¾ cup bread crumbs (OR crushed gluten-free cornflakes)
3 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
2 TBSP Parmesan cheese
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tsp olive oil
6 cups arugula or spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces

Combine all ingredients except oil and arugula/spinach in a bowl. Mix well. Form walnut-sized balls (about 16); SET ASIDE. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add balls and cook 4 – 6 minutes, turning to brown all ides. Divide arugula among 4 plates. Place 4 balls in center of each and serve with salsa. Sprinkle with salt.

Per serving: 381 calories, 13g fat (3g saturated fat), 34g carbohydrates, 32g protein

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