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Grilled salmon and salad a cooling summer catch

When the heat is on, a crisp, cool main dish salad for supper is just the ticket.

In the summer, grilled salmon is my favorite protein for a dinner salad.

Recently, I snapped up some fresh Copper River sockeye salmon at a great sale price. (Normally $17.99 a pound, it was $10 a pound). I was happy with the looks of it, too — a beautiful deep-red color.

I bought a whole fillet and cut it into individual pieces, wrapped them in plastic and put them in a freezer bag for future use. I try to use frozen salmon within a month, although it can stay frozen a little longer.

Grilling salmon is easy if you follow the simple rule of not overcooking it. By that, I mean that it shouldn’t be charred to smithereens on one side, producing a dry, tough piece of fish. Salmon is a firm-fleshed fish, but it cooks quickly.

For best results, leave the skin on the fillets. Oil the flesh first and start the fillets with the fleshy side down. Make sure that the grill is preheated to medium and the grates are well-oiled. (Using tongs, dip wadded-up paper towels in oil and run them over the grates.) If the grill is too hot, the flesh will char too quickly, so pay attention to the heat.

Don’t move the salmon for about 5 minutes. As it cooks, the flesh clings tighter and tighter to the grates, making it hard to flip. You can try it, but if there is any bit of resistance, leave the fish alone. Once the fleshy side cooks enough, it will easily release from the grates. Then you can slide a flipper under it and turn it over to the skin side.

Depending on the thickness of the fillet, it can take 5 to 7 minutes to cook the fleshy side. Once you turn the fillet over, it’ll take another 3 to 5 minutes.

Grilling the fillets with the skin on protects the salmon from overcooking and makes it easy to remove it from the grill. When the salmon is done, slip a spatula between the flesh and the skin, leaving the skin on the grate.

Today’s recipe uses mixed salad greens dressed with olive oil and a mild red wine vinegar and seasoned with salt and pepper. Plan on about 2 cups of packed mixed greens per serving with a 4-ounce piece of salmon.

This salmon is mildly seasoned and topped with an easy red pepper and pineapple salsa. The salsa also goes well with grilled chicken or shrimp.

GRILLED SALMON WITH SALSA AND PINEAPPLE

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound center cut salmon fillet

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon all-purpose seasoning

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the salsa:

5 mini red bell peppers

6 pineapple slices, about ½-inch thick

¼ cup sliced green onion

¼ cup diced red onion

For the salad:

8 cups mixed field greens

Olive oil

Red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Preheat the grill to medium. Cut the salmon into about four even 4-ounce portions or desired amount. Place the salmon on a plate and rub with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with the paprika, all-purpose seasoning, salt and black pepper. Set aside.

Brush the bell peppers and pineapple slices with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season the peppers with salt and pepper.

When the grill is hot, place the peppers and pineapple on the grill. Grill the peppers and the pineapple slices until you get nice grill marks on each side of the pineapple and all sides of the peppers. Remove from the grill. Chop the peppers and half of the pineapple and place in a bowl with the green onion and red onion. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Cut the remaining pineapple in slices to serve with the salmon.

For the salad, place the greens in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Divide salad among four serving plates.

Place the salmon pieces on the grill, flesh side down and grill about 5 minutes depending on the thickness. When the salmon easily releases from the grates, turn it skin side down and grill another 5 minutes. (The general rule of thumb for fish is cooking it 10 minutes per 1-inch of thickness). The salmon should flake easily — not come apart in shreds.

Remove it from the grill by sliding a spatula between the salmon and the skin. Place the salmon on the salad greens and top with about 2 tablespoons of the salsa and serve with grilled pineapple.

COOK’S NOTE: If you buy a whole salmon fillet and cut it into individual portions, cut them from the center or thickest part. Save the thinner portions, such as the tail, for another use.

PER SERVING: 437 calories (42 percent from fat), 21 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 38 g carbohydrates, 28 g protein, 394 mg sodium, 70 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber.

— From and tested by Susan M. Selasky in the Free Press Test Kitchen.

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