Pepita-crusted Salmon with Skillet Squash

Pepita Crusted Salmon & Calabacitas platedCast your net beyond nachos, tacos and enchiladas, my Pepita-crusted Salmon with Skillet Squash is a yummy Mexican cuisine inspired meal that is guaranteed to reel in compliments. Even though salmon isn’t found anywhere near the mild oceans and seas of Mexico, this seafood-loving culture enjoys fish from around the world – just like we do here in North America. So, it’s salmon for dinner tonight!

Pepita Crusted Salmon with Skillet Squash is a fast, flavorful and fit option for a weeknight dinner.

This fish and veggie recipe will be a regular in your weeknight dinner routine, it’s as easy as uno, dos, tres! First, spread with your favorite ranch or creamy dressing (I use Cotija Cilantro Ultra Premium Dressing) atop a salmon filet. Second, top salmon with crushed tortilla chips and roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), and then bake for 12 minutes. While fish is cooking in the oven, a quick skillet of squash comes together in minutes for a speedy yet stunning side dish generically called “calabacitas”  — I used Mexican-style zucchini but you can easily substitute with your favorite summer squash such as sunburst or crookneck.

Zucchini and Pumpkin Seeds for my  Calabacitas and pepitas

Cooler of Frozen Sizzlefish

This recipe would also work well with a variety of meatier fish types, just swap for your favorite variety. I get my fish from Sizzlefish.com, they only source the best fish and I love how it’s shipped straight to my door, flash-frozen in perfectly portioned, 4-ounce servings. It terms of protein intake for a healthy lifestyle, 4-ounces of most fish and meat proteins gives you 25g (more or less) of protein – which is the optimal amount for your body to process at any one time. So, no guesswork with how much to eat with here, just open the freezer and grab individually-packaged serving from Sizzlefish.  I also love the different “collections” of fish I can order (Paleo Prime Plus my favorite with Coho Salmon, Sokeye Salmon, Wild Gulf Shrimp, Atlantic Scallops, Sable Fish, Cod and Haddock).

Through the end of May, take 10% off your order at SizzleFish.com with the discount code FITFORK10 at checkout.

What is your favorite type of fish? What did you do this weekend? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

Pepita-crusted Salmon with Skillet Squash i
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Pepita-crusted Salmon with Skillet Squash i
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Instructions
  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  2. Add tortilla chips a zip top bag and crush to a coarse consistency with rolling pin. Add peptias to bag, shake to combine, and pour out mixture onto shallow dish.
  3. Pat salmon filets dry with paper towels, place skin side down and sprinkle top with pepper. Brush each top with approximately 1 tablespoon creamy dressing. 
  4. One at a time, pick up the salmon filets and press the coated side down into the tortilla chip mixture until evenly coated. Place the salmon tortilla side up on the baking sheet and sprinkle with additional pepitas, lightly pressing them down, if desired.  Discard the unused tortilla chip mixture.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes, until the coating is crisp and fish begins to flake when pressed with a fork.
  6. While fish is baking, add olive oil to large skillet and bring to medium-high heat. Add garlic, squash and bell pepper and sauté, stirring constantly, for approximately 4 minutes or until softened. Stir in cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes and salt, continuing to cook for another 1 minute. Remove from heat and toss with pepitas.
  7. To serve, top salmon with an approximate 1 tablespoon dollop of creamy dressing with a side of the prepared squash.
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Best Ever Super Secret Chili Recipe + Beef Browning Tip

Best Ever Secret Beef Chili

I hope you have a big spoon at the ready, my recipe for Best-Ever Beef Chili is, well, THE BEST! With freezing temperatures and heated football bowl games going down, this big pot of spicy, rich and blissfully beefy chili is what to serve by the mug, bowl or trough.

Southwestern Steak Chile - TheFitFork.comI typically make chili by breaking down a roast into bite-sized chunks, my kitchen stampeded causing Southwestern Steak Chili is a family favorite. However, the kids love ground beef (and so does my food budget) and requested a chili made with their favorite food group — hamburger meat!

Won’t lie, I was a little worried that the ground beef would come out dry and the beefy taste might get downed out by bold chili spices. After reading an article in Cooks Illustrated on achieving “better browning through science,” I knew I had to try their technique of using a baking solution on meat to enable proteins to attract more water and hold onto it during cooking and also create a higher pH level to speed up the desirable Maillard reaction (basically, the harbinger of caramelization). My dad reported success using this method to keep steaks juicy and tender, and I hoped this easy hack would help improve the taste and texture of my chili’s ground beef.

So, how does this baking soda beef hack work? Typically, when ground beef is cooked on the stove top, so much water and liquid is expelled that the beef chunks just end up steaming in their own juices  — very little actually browning happens.  When cooked to the point of most water evaporating, the batch of beef will be unpleasantly overdone. However, by gently tossing a baking soda solution with the meat (about ¾ teaspoon baking soda to 2 tablespoons water for 2lbs of grind) and letting sit for 15 to 20 minutes before cooking , beef loses less liquid, browns faster and tastes better. Ground Beef browned traditionallyI tried it myself with 80/20 Chuck Ground Beef and I must say, I was impressed! The ground beef cooked “as-is” was almost immediately was sitting in a pool of liquids (as you can see from the picture) and when taste-tested seemed a little rubbery and bland.

Ground Beef browned with baking soda

However, the baking soda treated beef immediately started to brown in the pot. And, while there was still a fair deal of liquid released, it was noticely less so than the previous batch (Cook’s illustrated said about 10% less liquid, I felt like maybe even a little more).  More noticeable though, was the taste – the baking-soda treated batch had a richer, more complex caramelized flavor and was markedly juicier. In fact, the cooked beef was so yummy; I worried about taste-testing my way through the whole pile before I even started the rest of the chili!

So, my final recommendation on this “baking soda treatment” is definitely try it and see what you think! It does take little bit of pre-planning because you have to let the solution sit on the meat for 20 minutes, but you can have that going while you prep the other ingredients.

Best Ever Secret Beef ChiliSo, here is my  Best Ever Ground Beef Chili recipe, – every spoon is a mouthful of meaty goodness. It’s rich and spicy, without being too heavy or too “hot” for kids – I think you’ll really like it. But, feel free to use this baking soda technique with any beef chili recipe!

Mugs of Super Secret Ground Beef Chili -horiz

If you’re looking for other delicious chili recipes, check out this collection I curated for Mode! And, also head over to the Texas Beef Council for more inspiration.

 

Check out Life-Changing Beef Chili Recipes to Warm Winter

by The Fit Fork at Mode

Do tell, do you put beans in your chili? Do you like spicy or mild? What toppings do you put on top?  Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Super-Secret Ground Beef Chili Recipe
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 10 minutes
Super-Secret Ground Beef Chili Recipe
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Add ground beef to bowl and drizzle with solution of 2 tablespoons water and ¾ teaspoon baking soda. Gently break apart beef with hands to distribute, but do not over knead (causes toughness). Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large Dutch oven pot over medium high. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes until softened, stirring as needed. Mix in garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add treated ground beef to pot and cook, while stirring and breaking up into chunks. Brown beef for approximately 12 to 15 minutes or until no longer pink.
  4. Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano and salt to beef mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until spices begin to bloom and become fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  5. To pot of beef, add finely crushed tortilla chips, beef broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans with liquid, and sugar. Bring to a boil and then put lid on Dutch oven and transfer to a 275 F degree oven for approximately 1 to 2 hours, or until flavors have developed and sauce is thickened. .
  6. Remove from oven and let cool, uncovered for 10 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed, to taste.
  7. Serve with rice or tortilla chips and other toppings of choice including cheese, avocado, red onion, cilantro, etc
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