Grandma's Marinade with Salmon and Yellow Bean Saute

You might look at my pale skin and blonde hair and think, well there is no way that girl has a lick of Italian blood in her. Well if you met my mom and grandma you would be like, oh... okay. She might be a little Italian. My grandma's parent's both came over from Italy (Naples I think), pots and pans in hand. (I believe my mom has a stake on my great-grandpa's cast iron skillet already.... and I have it from her. Sorry sisters.) Anyhow, we have grown up with a lot of delicious food (my dad is a mean cook too). My grandma and her siblings, notably her brother Jackie, serve up some delicious sausage and peppers and pasta. At our family reunion last year, each of the siblings brought a pot of their marinara sauce, that resulted in a little Italian throw-down. My grandma won, obviously.

Every time we head home to visit Gram, you can bet within 30 seconds of walking in the door she will be shoving food in your mouth. It's usually one of two things. Spaghetti and meatballs or chicken. Gram has a seriously delicious marinade she uses to make chicken. This was one of my regular dishes I would make in college, and have continued to use it even now. This time, instead of marinading chicken (legs and thighs, bone-in), I decided to marinade some salmon. I LOVE this recipe. Instead of baking it as she does, this would make a great grilling recipe.

Grandma's Marinade with Salmon

1 lb salmon filets (or 1-2 lbs chicken thighs and legs- the dark meat)
3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 lemon (juice and zest)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
5 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Marinade your salmon or chicken overnight. Sprinkle all sides of your meat with salt and pepper. In a freezer bag, combine all marinade ingredients. Add the meat to the bag and seal tightly. Shake the bag around a little bit to combine the ingredients and coat the meat. Put freezer bag in a baking dish to avoid leaks in your fridge and place in the fridge overnight! You could do this in the morning and bake it at night, but overnight marinading really lets the flavors penetrate the meat and start to tenderize it.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the meat from the marinade and place directly in the baking dish. For the salmon, let it cook for 20 - 25 minutes. For the chicken, cook for 35 - 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving. You guys, you're gonna love this.

Yellow Beans with Mushroom and Pine Nuts

1 large bushel yellow string beans (ends cut)
1/2 lb cremini or wild mushrooms (cleaned and halved)
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 tbsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium pot, heat water over medium to low heat to steam the green beans. You want to steam them first to soften them up a bit before sauteing. Place the green beans on a steamer over the water and cover. Steam for 15 minutes or until the beans have started to soften a bit, but not too much.

Once the beans are done steaming, heat a saute pan over medium heat and add the pine nuts. Cook for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan around every few minutes as to not burn the nuts. After 5 minutes, turn the heat up a bit and add the sesame oil. Add the mushroom and green beans and give the pan a good stir so everything is coated in oil. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper and re-cover. Cook for 5 more minutes. Serve immediately.

The nuttiness from the pine nuts and sesame oil go really well with the woody flavor of the mushrooms. The green beans will still be a bit crunchy, not soggy, and the mushrooms hold their texture well as you don't salt the pan until the end.

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