- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 2, 2008

If you’re from the South, you know about the tradition of serving black-eyed peas for New Year's Day. Hoppin’ John, the dish of black-eyed peas cooked with salt pork and seasonings, is supposed to assure your good fortune for the coming year.

Other regions and even families have their own culinary customs. In our home, New Year's Day is always greeted with some version of smoked salmon.

I could say that the rich, golden color of the salmon is a symbol of prosperity, but that’s an afterthought. I also could justify salmon, a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, as a healthy food that helps meet my annual commitment to a better diet.

However, it’s the buttery flavor and tender texture that’s so appealing after a night of parties and champagne.

The ease of preparation is also an advantage when you need a casual main course for a brunch or lunch any day in the new year. You can create many fast and delicious entrees using smoked salmon.

Try a combination of smoked salmon, baby salad greens, scallions and tomatoes in a salad. For pasta salad, mix cooked rotini with thinly sliced red onion, pitted Kalamata olives, chopped smoked salmon and vinaigrette dressing.

If your plans include football viewing and a sandwich, heap fresh spinach, chopped red onions, crumbled blue cheese and smoked salmon on the bottom of a crusty roll. Drizzle lightly with oil and vinegar and top with the remainder of the roll.

Last but certainly not least, try smoked salmon in an egg dish. Partially cook a mixture of eggs, cream cheese, shallot and Italian parsley. Add the smoked salmon only when the eggs are partially set so you avoid cooking and drying the fish.

Smoked salmon and cream cheese frittata

1 tablespoon butter

1 shallot, minced

2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons half-and-half

1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley

1/8 teaspoon pepper or to taste

4 eggs

2 ounces diced smoked salmon

Lemon wedges

Melt butter in large skillet. Add shallot and cook over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Combine cream cheese, half-and-half, parsley, pepper and eggs in a bowl. Beat well. Pour over shallot in skillet.

Cook over medium heat, turning skillet occasionally to cook raw eggs. When eggs are set but still glossy, about 5 minutes, spread smoked salmon over eggs. Cook for 1 more minute or until eggs are cooked through. Cut into 4 wedges to serve. Serve with lemon.

Makes 2 servings.

Tomato salad

1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

1 scallion, green parts only, finely chopped

1 tablespoon capers

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Combine tomatoes, scallion, capers, oil and vinegar in a glass bowl. Stir gently but well. Set aside for 5 minutes for flavors to blend.

Makes 2 servings.




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