A couple of weeks ago I took the kids to our local Rainforest Cafe for a bit of a treat. While I really wasn't expecting to be wowed by the food there, it came as a pleasant surprise when they served up a delicious basil-seared salmon with one of the best tasting orzos I've ever had. My taste buds immediately went into overdrive as I tried to deconstruct the recipe with each bite. By the end of the meal I had managed to narrow down the basic components but was still missing a few I'd need to recreate the dish. As usual, quick google search solved all my problems. Turns out, the basil-salmon at Rainforest cafe is so popular that their chefs had whipped it up for daytime tv.
My version is quite close to the original with some minor tweaks. I've made a few substitutions to better suit homecooking (who has lobster broth just lying around?) and additional seasoning to kick things up a notch. This dish is not only delicious and healthy but takes less than 30 minutes to make. Best thing is, my kids absolutely eat it up and that rarely ever happens.
Basil-Seared Salmon with Vegetable Orzo and Crispy Salmon Skin
1 piece fresh salmon
4 basil leaves (or enough to coat salmon)
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 oz. olive oil
dash of Mediterranean seasoning (optional)
1 tomato diced
1 zucchini chopped
1/2 red bell pepper chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper chopped
1/2 small onion chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 lb orzo pre-cooked
4oz. clam juice
1 tbsp chopped basil
pinch of salt and black pepper
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese to serve
1. Bring large pot of water to boil, add orzo, cook till al dente, drain and set aside.
2. Remove salmon skin and rub salmon with sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and/or additional seasoning of your choice. Season salmon skin with a pinch of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
3. Lay basil leaves over non-skin side, heat non-stick pan and add olive oil.
4. Gently lay salmon with basil side down onto the hot pan and sear for approx. 2 minutes (depending on thickness of fish). Flip salmon and sear the other side for 2 minutes. Transfer to 450F degree oven and continue cooking for approx. 4 minutes.
5. Sear salmon skin in same pan over medium-low heat until crispy.
6. Using the same pan, remove excess oil. Add fresh olive oil and brown garlic and onions till fragrant.
7. Add vegetables to pan and continue cooking till almost cooked through. Add orzo pasta and clam juice, continue to simmer till broth is reduced by 50%.
8. Stir in chopped basil, salt and pepper and parmesan cheese.
9. Serve with crispy salmon skin on the side.
* recipe adapted from Rainforest Cafe's original