For as long as I can remember now, I’ve been closing out my days and ushering in my evenings with a warm bath.
Ah…the simple pleasures.
For me, a freshly scrubbed, clean bath tub, some gently-running warmish-hot water, and a few squeezes of an aromatic body wash or bubble bath to foam and make things all sudsy makes me a very happy girl.
It allows me a little time to contemplate my day, and quiet my soul.
A bath is truly one of those simple things in life, a comforting and soothing little “luxury”; but it does wonders for my spirit and for my mind.
It allows me to reflect upon all of those things that I’m grateful for, and that I experienced in the day that has gone by.
It allows me to draw a distinct line between my day and my night, to differentiate and to retreat, and it is something that I’m truly grateful to have as a part of my daily ritual experience.
And so it is with many of those simple little things in life that just simply make us happy; they renew, uplift, and feed us in so many necessary ways!
And a simple meal prepared with fresh, colorful ingredients is a wonderful example of such a lovely thing.
A mildly spicy salmon fillet placed into a hot cast-iron skillet to sear to a succulent, golden-brown perfection, and then topped with a mediterranean-inspired salsa fresca that offers a bit of cool and bit of bright-tanginess, makes for a perfect pan seared salmon, and makes an appetite happy.
It gives comfort, and becomes a delectable little luxury of a meal.
It warms from within, and offers an opportunity for gratitude for each bite taken.
So I find that often times, it’s the simplest things in life that offer the most joy and happiness.
A bit of waning evening sun on the cheek; the gentle bubble of a fountain; a quiet walk around the block in the morning; or a burst of savory, fresh, and succulent flavor on the tongue.
All go easily into that little category, that cream-colored folder labeled “simple things that make me happy”, and give life that precious bit of spice that it needs.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Pan Seared Salmon with Mediterranean Salsa Fresca and Toasted Couscous
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 4
• 4 salmon fillets, skinned (roughly 1 ¼ – 1 ½ pounds)
• Canola oil
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
• ½ teaspoon granulated onion
• ½ teaspoon ground cumin
• ½ teaspoon ground coriander
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• Pinch cayenne pepper
• 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
• Mediterranean Salsa Fresca (recipe below)
• Toasted Couscous (recipe below)
-Place the salmon fillets onto a plate or into a large bowl, and drizzle in about 2 tablespoon of the oil; then, sprinkle in the paprika, the granulated garlic and onion, the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne and lemon zest, and toss everything gently to coat the fillets evenly and well; allow the salmon to marinate for at least 20 minutes, or even over night.
-Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 2-3 tablespoons of the oil; once the oil is hot, add in the salmon fillets, and allow them sear on that first side for about 4 minutes, or until a deep, golden-brown; then, flip over and allow them to cook and sear on the other side for about 4 more minutes; remove from skillet.
-Serve with seared salmon generously topped with the Mediterranean Salsa Fresca, and a side of Toasted Couscous, if desired.
Mediterranean Salsa Fresca Ingredients:
• 1 cup small cherry or sugar tomatoes, quartered
• 1 small persian cucumber, finely diced
• ¼ yellow bell pepper, finely diced
• 2 tablespoons pitted kalamata olives, diced
• 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
• 1 teapsoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
• ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
• 1 teapsoon lemon juice
• Black pepper
-Combine all ingredients up to and including the lemon juice in a small bowl, and add a couple of pinches and salt and pepper; mix with a spoon to combine, and serve immediately, or keep covered and in the fridge until ready to serve.
Toasted Couscous Ingredients:
• 1 cup couscous
• 1 ¼ cup water
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
-Place a medium-small non-stick sauce pan or pot over medium heat, and add in the couscous; toast the couscous, stirring it frequently, for about a minute or so, and then pour it out of the pan/pot; set it aside for a moment.
-Into that same pot or pan add the water, a couple of pinches of salt, the olive oil and the garlic, and stir to combine; bring the water to a vigorous simmer, pour in the couscous and stir, and turn off the heat; cover with a lid, and allow the couscous to soften for about 5-7 minutes; then, fluff with a fork, add the chopped parsley, and toss to combine; serve warm.