February is American Heart Month. To raise awareness, the Salmon Council reached out to see if I would create a salmon recipe, which I was most happy to do! So, today we have Southwestern Salmon Orzo Salad, and it is quite tasty, if I do say so myself.
Currently, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for every 1 in 4 deaths. While that sounds dire, the good news is that a healthy diet and lifestyle can significantly help fight heart disease. When I interviewed Lisa Oz last December, one of my biggest takeaways from our conversation was how her heart surgeon father was an early adopter of using diet to help his patients’ health, an approach that then influenced Dr. Oz (Lisa’s husband). It can be quite miraculous what nutritious eating can do for our bodies.
Today’s post is specifically focused on heart-friendly salmon. Salmon is filled with omega-3 fatty acids, and it is recommended that we eat food high in omega-3s at least twice a week. But in addition to those omega-3s, salmon is also rich in protein and Vitamin D, a highly nutritious combination that can help lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by up to one-third.
The Salmon Council challenged me to incorporate DeLallo’s organic whole grain orzo into my recipe. I immediately thought of an orzo salad that my mother-in-law makes that has a Greek flavor to it. I decided to change things up and give the salad a southwestern flare, using a cilantro dressing and adding some heat to the salmon. I have to admit that I’m not normally a huge fan of whole grain pastas strictly for taste reasons, but this whole grain orzo was awesome – just as delicious as regular orzo but with a nice nutritional boost. And the salad overall is sooooo good. The spicy sweet salmon pairs beautifully with the fresh-tasting cilantro dressing and the crunchy veggies. And, if you want to add just a bit of cheese, queso fresca or cotija Mexican cheeses are PERFECT in this salad. If you’re trying to cut back on cheese, though, the salad is just as good without it!
A note about the salmon – as much as I loved it in the orzo salad, it was also really delicious all by itself. The preparation is super simple, making it a great meal on its own.
- 8 ounces uncooked whole grain DeLallo orzo
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 to 1-1/2 pound salmon filet, skin on
- 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
- ½ cup black beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup canned corn
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
- 8 ounces salsa verde
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup water
- About 3 ounces queso fresca or cotija cheese, crumbled (optional)
- Add 2 tablespoons salt to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil.
- Add orzo. Return to boil then cook for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.
- Preheat outdoor grill to medium heat, so internal temperature of grill reaches 500º F.
- While the pasta is cooking, rinse and dry the salmon filet. Brush both sides of the salmon filet with olive oil.
- Place skin down on a large piece of foil, folding up the sides, leaving a couple inches between the edge of the salmon and the edge of the foil all around the filet.
- Mix together the brown sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, cumin, cayenne pepper and garlic. Spread evenly on the top of the salmon filet. Place salmon on the foil on the grill and cook with the lid closed for 10-15 minutes, until salmon is fairly easy to flake apart. You may see some white stuff as well. Remove from grill.
- Remove salmon from the skin in very large pieces. Set aside.
- In a large bowl mix together the cooked orzo, bell pepper, black beans, corn.
- Add salsa verde, chopped cilantro, sour cream and water to a blender and blend well.
- Add ½ cup of the green sauce you just made to the orzo mixture and stir well. Add salmon pieces and stir carefully.
- Serve with extra green sauce and top with queso fresca/cotija cheese if using.
- Serve immediately or chilled.
To learn more about salmon, visit the Hooked on Salmon Facebook page and get salmon recipe inspiration on Hooked on Salmon’s Pinterest board. To find out more about DeLallo’s products, click here to visit the DeLallo website!
This post is sponsored by the Salmon Council. DeLallo provided me with the orzo I used in this recipe.