Salmon, sprouts, simple

A great dinner doesn’t have to take all night

Photo by Mark Lore

Since we had a kid a couple years ago, my wife and I have leaned on a lot of standbys for dinner: pasta, tacos, stirfries—things that are quick and easy and still somewhat good for you. But those have slowly worn out their welcome, and we’re on the lookout for new ideas that still fit with our schedules and budget. Who said having children wasn’t a goddamn kick in the pants?!

We also try to incorporate fish into our diet—typically salmon—although it usually depends on the season and the cost. When we do, I’ve found I can knock out a meal in about 20 minutes. Recently, I’ve just been lightly seasoning a couple fillets and searing them in a pan, and usually serving them with roasted Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes. Potatoes add a little extra time, so I kept it to salmon and sprouts on this particular night.

Speaking of Brussels sprouts, roasting them is the way to go. If you’re not preparing them this way, just go ahead and toss them in the trash or compost. Roasting sprouts makes them slightly crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, and the red pepper flakes give them a nice little bite. Just don’t overcook them or they’ll get too dry.

When it comes to the salmon, wild Alaskan sockeye salmon is usually what I look for—it has a high oil content, and I prefer the flavor and the firmness of it. And I always add a little red wine to the meal, to do my ticker a big favor. At least that’s what I tell myself.

The moral of this story: You can knock out a pretty kick-ass, nutritious meal in about 20 minutes. (Though sometimes it takes me longer than that to get the bottle of wine open.)

Roasted Brussels sprouts


1 lb. Brussels sprouts

3 tablespoons olive oil



red pepper flakes

Directions: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Halve sprouts and place in a large bowl. Add olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and stir with hands till fully coated. Place sprouts on a sheet pan and place in oven for 15 minutes.

Pan-seared salmon


2 salmon fillets

3-4 tablespoons olive oil


ground pepper

dry basil

cayenne pepper

1 lemon

Directions: While sprouts are roasting, bring a stainless steel pan to medium heat and add olive oil. Season nonskin sides of salmon with a couple pinches of salt, a generous dusting of ground pepper and ground basil, and a very light and even sprinkle of the cayenne. Once oil is hot, add fillets skin-side down and cook for five or six minutes. Be patient and don’t touch until color of fillet has lightened about three-quarters of the way up. Flip fillets and cook another minute, or until sides show they’re cooked through. Squeeze half a lemon on each, and serve immediately.