Each week, I’ll present a low-cost meal (or a meal that demonstrates a lot of options for cutting costs) that my family eats for dinner and enjoys. Many of the recipes will be vegan or vegetarian, with options to add other ingredients for non-vegetarians.
One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to cook an excellent meal with minimal dishes to do afterwards. If I can make something delicious with only the silverware, plates, and perhaps two more items in the sink, then it’s a big win for me.
This leads us to baked salmon and asparagus, which I make on two cookie sheets (and a single person or a couple could make on one cookie sheet). You really don’t need anything else to prepare this meal. Even better, you only need about fifteen minutes of cooking time!
What You Need
You’ll need a small filet of whatever kind of fish you wish to prepare for each person. I suggest waiting for a sale. You’ll also need perhaps four ounces of asparagus per person eating, a few teaspoons of olive oil, and perhaps some seasoning for the fish (black pepper, white pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, etc. – whatever you like). I would also pair this with a fresh fruit, using whatever fruit is on sale at the store. I almost always pair fish with citrus fruits.
The Night Before (or Early That Day)
You can cut the asparagus in advance of the meal. When you buy asparagus at the store, it’s often sold with the bottom portion of the stem being fairly bitter. I generally take each asparagus stem and cut it roughly in half, discarding the other part to the compost bin. The top half is the truly tasty part.
Other than that, the meal is incredibly simple to prepare.
Preparing the Meal
Pre-heat the oven to 500 F. You’ll want the oven nice and hot for this dish.
Spread out the fish and the asparagus on one or two cookie sheets. You can do this on one sheet fairly easily if you’re cooking for two, but if you’re cooking for a family, you’ll need two sheets.
Drizzle some olive oil over the asparagus, rotate them a bit, then drizzle some more olive oil on top of them. Sprinkle on some salt and black pepper.
For the fish, season both sides in whatever way you like. I season almost all fish I eat with cayenne pepper, but this may not be your preferred flavor. A bit of salt and black pepper works well for almost any fish.
When the oven is heated, put the cookie sheet(s) in for six minutes. Pull out the sheet, flip the fish, rotate the asparagus, and put it back in for four minutes.
At this point, remove the asparagus to a separate container, then check the temperature of the fish. It should be around 140 F. The texture should be nice and flaky and it should not be transparent – cooked fish is opaque. If it needs a bit more cooking, flip the fish again and re-insert it into the oven for another five minutes.
You’re done! Serve the asparagus and fish with a side of fresh fruit. We almost always accompany fish with citrus fruits, so we served it with orange this time.
You can vary the seasoning of the fish quite a lot. Black pepper, white pepper, lemon pepper, garlic, salt – season it in whatever way you like. You may want to look up seasoning suggestions for the particular type of fish you’re using (you can use pretty much any kind of fish for this meal, too), but I use those as a general guideline at best. I just like cayenne pepper on everything.
Fish can be accompanied by many different types of vegetables and fruits. We often use either whatever is coming from our garden or whatever is on sale at the store or in season at the farmers market.