What put me in the cherry mood? Perhaps it was finding a jar of cherry jam in the fridge and realizing it had never been opened. Or, it could have been the bag of dried cherries in the pantry that, too, was still sealed up tight. I vowed right then to use both, hoping to find a way to highlight the tartness of the jam and the sweetness of the dried fruit, without making the dish, how shall I say, too cherry-y.
Finding a use for the dried cherries turned out to be a breeze. I imagined an Israeli couscous with the dried fruit and toasty sliced almonds. Instead of cooking everything together, I boiled the couscous and then drained it. Meanwhile, I sautéed the dried cherries and almonds until warm and fragrant. Then I dumped in the couscous, added a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt, and that was that. Easy.
The cherry jam was a whole other issue. I needed something to thin it out, so I cut it with red wine vinegar, which also toned down the sweetness. The two were cooked down into a tart and satisfying glaze. For a protein, salmon seemed like a natural choice, which I decided to broil. The only question was when to add the glaze. I tried a few times to add the glaze during the cooking process, but in the end I preferred simply spooning the sauce on at the end. The crust of the broiled salmon crisps up and turns golden brown when left alone, and the sauce maintains the right consistency.
The best bites are when all of the elements are mixed together. Then you get tart, tangy, crispy, crunchy, and juicy in one go.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- 4 salmon fillets, about 6 ounces each
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
- 1/4 cup cherry jam
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1 tablespoon fresh juice from one lemon
Adjust oven rack to six inches below broiler element and preheat broiler to high. Brush the top of the fillets with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place salmon skin-side down on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Cook until salmon is golden brown on top and cooked through, eight to ten minutes. Halfway through, carefully rotate the pan so the fish evenly cooks. Remove pan when done.
Meanwhile, bring 3 1/3 cups water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the couscous and a pinch of salt. Cook until the couscous is tender, five to six minutes. When done, drain the couscous in a colander.
Combine the cherry jam and red wine vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sauce reduces to a glaze. Turn heat to low to keep warm. If mixture thickens too much, add a little more vinegar or water.
Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the dried cherries and almonds. Cook, stirring often, until the almonds are toasted but not burnt. Add the drained couscous, and stir well to combine. Turn off the heat. Add half of lemon juice stir to combine, and adjust seasoning with more salt, lemon juice, or olive oil as desired. Serve couscous with cooked salmon and cherry glaze.