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It was an informative evening learning from Alberta farmers about canola oil. Some of the interesting things we learned:
- Canola oil is a good source of vitamins E and K and is packed with omega 3 fats.
- Canola oil has the lowest amount of saturated fats compared with other oils.
- It has a neutral flavour and light taste that makes it great for baking and cooking. When you add herbs and spices, canola oil absorbs the flavours making it very versatile.
- Canola oil has a high smoking point (as high as 242 C/468 F).
- Canola is grown by over 43,000 family farmers on the Canadian Prairies.
We all took part in the “Canola Crush” activity to learn how farmers check for ripeness and to show how much oil can be extracted from the canola seed. We took a measure of canola seeds and placed them on a strip of tape and then used a roller to crush the seeds. Through the strip of paper and tape, we could see the extracted oil. Canola seeds look like mustard or cumin seeds. Once crushed, they release their oil, which isnt very much per seed. It takes millions of seeds to produce a liter of the stuff you buy in the stores!
Not only did we get to learn but we were treated to a cooking demo by Chef Ned Bell and Chef Rory White. We were lucky to sit down as a group and enjoy all the delicious food that was made for us using sustainable ingredients. One of my favorite dishes was the salmon with heirloom tomato and kale cashew pesto.
I got permission from Chef Ned Bell to share this delicious recipe with you so that you can make it at home.
Wild Salmon with Heirloom Tomato Jam and Kale-Cashew Pesto
Classic pesto is usually made with basil and toasted pine nuts, but here I’ve gone with herbaceous kale, whose mild bitterness is offset by the gentle sweetness of cashews. (Jar some of this delicious green paste to use with any firm fish, such as rockfish, albacore tuna, or sturgeon.) For the tomato jam and confit, reach for the sweetest heirloom cherry tomatoes you can find. Sweet 100 and Sun Gold are two of my favorite choices.
Heirloom tomato jam and confit
3 pints (about 7 cups) heirloom-style cherry tomatoes (divided)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup canola oil
1 sprig rosemary
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
For the tomato jam, in a medium saucepan combine 4 cups of the tomatoes, water, vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are softened and cooked through. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.
For the tomato confit, in the same saucepan combine the remaining 3 cups tomatoes, olive oil, rosemary, and garlic. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce to low and gently cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until tomatoes just start to lose their skins. Remove and discard the rosemary.
1/2 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn (about 3 cups)
6 cups spinach leaves
3 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup toasted cashews
1/2 cup hot water
3 Tbsp Parmesan
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Set a large bowl of ice water nearby. Add the kale and spinach to the boiling water, and blanch for 45 seconds. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer immediately to the ice water. When completely cool, drain.
In a blender, combine the blanched greens, olive oil, cashews, hot water, Parmesan, and salt and pepper, and puree until smooth.
4 (4 to 5 oz) skinless salmon fillets
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 lemon, halved
Chopped toasted cashews, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use paper towels to pat the fish dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Carefully lay the fish in the pan. (If necessary, cook the fish in batches to prevent overcrowding, which will keep the fish from caramelizing properly.) Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 1 minute or until a golden crust forms on the flesh. Flip the fillets over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until browned. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 3 to 4 minutes or until fish is opaque in the center and flakes easily.
Remove from the oven and add the butter to the pan. Allow it to melt while you squeeze the lemon over the fish. Use a spoon to baste each fillet with the buttery juices for about 1 minute. Transfer the fish to a plate.
Spoon the tomato jam onto each plate, add the salmon, and top with a spoonful of pesto and tomato confit. Garnish with the cashews.
Excerpted from Lure by Ned Bell and Valerie Howes. Copyright 2017 by Chefs for Oceans, recipes copyright by Ned Bell. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Thank you to Canola Eat Well for hosting this delicious workshop and for sponsoring this post. As always, reviews and opinions are my own.