Blackened Salmon Caesar Salad

The seasoning mix for the salmon in this blackened salmon Caesar salad can be used on other meats, also.

Farm to Fork events are becoming more popular and they are a way to put an emphasis on local products and producers.

The Board of the Early Head Start Young Families Program in Billings chose that theme a few years ago for a fundraising dinner for their program. This year's dinner was held Saturday evening, Sep. 14, and the evening began with area chefs demonstrating different recipes made using local ingredients. Guests at the evening's events visited the different chefs to sample the specialty they had created. A delicious dinner prepared by chef Chris Smith and his crew from Sodexo School Food Service, followed the sampling.

A popular demo was a creation by Chef Bill Manske. He jazzed up a basic Caesar salad, topping the romaine lettuce with blackened salmon and creating a salad made to impress. You can use the seasoning mix created for the salmon on other meats as well. The crisp romaine hearts were sourced from the Swanky Roots, an aquaponics growth business in Billings.

Blackened Salmon Caesar Salad

Ingredients for the salmon:

2 tablespoons paprika

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon cayenne powder

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons salt

4 (4-oz.) boned skinless salmon fillets

Nonstick cooking spray

Directions for salmon:

Mix seasonings in a bowl. Pat the salmon dry. Coat thoroughly with seasonings, pressing into fish; spray both sides with nonstick cooking spray after coating. Cook in a hot nonstick or cast iron skillet, on a grill, or under broiler for 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Turn halfway through cooking. Set aside to rest.

Caesar salad Ingredients:

6 anchovy fillets, packed in oil, drained

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, plus more

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

Freshly ground pepper

3 romaine hearts, leaves separated

½ cup shaved Parmesan, for topping

Directions Salad:

Chop together anchovy, garlic and salt. Mash into a paste and scrape into a medium bowl. Whisk in egg yolks, lemon juice, and mustard. Adding drop by drop to start, gradually whisk in olive oil, then vegetable oil; whisk until dressing is thick and glossy. Whisk in Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, and more lemon juice if desired.

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Croutons: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Tear Italian country bread into ¾-inch pieces, making 3 cups of cubes. Toss bread with 3 tablespoons olive oil to coat. Sprinkle cubes with 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper and a sprinkle of salt and pepper; toss to coat. Place on a baking sheet and bake, tossing occasionally, until golden, 10–15 minutes.

Assembly: Using a rubber spatula, gently toss the lettuce, croutons, and dressing. Portion the salad on plates, then topping with the shaved Parmesan and blackened salmon.

Spicy Beef Lettuce Cups

Britany Moreland representing the Yellowstone Valley Food Hub used products that are available through the Food Hub to create these beef-filled lettuce cups. Other producer members had other appetizers created from products available through the Food Hub for tasting, such as stuffed plums and chorizo stuffed dates.


1 bunch scallions

1 head bibb or butter lettuce

2 Persian cucumbers

1 lime

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound ground beef

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more

4 tablespoons hot sauce, divided, plus more for serving

½ cup mayonnaise


Trim scallions on both ends and thinly slice crosswise. Set aside about 3 tablespoons sliced scallions for serving. Separate bibb lettuce; chill until ready to use. Cut lime in half crosswise and cut one of the halves into wedges (reserve for serving). Heat oil in a medium skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add remaining sliced scallions and cook, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon, until tender and golden, about 4 minutes. Add beef and break up into small pieces with wooden spoon. Let cook, undisturbed, until first side is browned, about 5 minutes. While meat is cooking, stir ½ cup mayonnaise and 3 tablespoons hot sauce in a small bowl and season lightly with salt; stir to combine then set aside. Season meat with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and stir, breaking up even more with wooden spoon into small bits. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until meat is cooked all the way through, about 4 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in more hot sauce if desired. Let cool slightly. Build your lettuce cups: Dollop a bit of the spicy mayo into the center of each leaf, then place several slices of cucumber over top. Spoon several tablespoons beef mixture into each leaf. Top with squeeze of lime.

Source: Brittany has adapted this recipe from one she found on the “Bon Appétit” website.

Savory Pumpkin Hummus

Jackie Rumph, MSU Yellowstone County FCS extension agent, prepared two different kinds of hummus, one pumpkin and the other red beet, for guests to sample. Now that fall has arrived, you may have some pumpkin puree on hand for baking. If so, whip up a batch of this savory pumpkin hummus. It makes for a healthy snack or appetizer when served with pita bread or chips, crackers, or veggie sticks.


1 can (14 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

2/3 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

2 tablespoons tahini

3 cloves garlic

1 lemon, juiced (2 tablespoons)

1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoons cumin

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon paprika


Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. Add more olive oil or water if the hummus is too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings. Place the hummus in a shallow bowl, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil; garnish with sesame seeds, chopped parsley and paprika. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Enjoy!

*Note: If desired, unsweetened all-natural peanut butter can be substituted for the tahini.

Source: Jackie found this recipe on the “Easy as Apple Pie” website.

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Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She was a Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.


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