I’ve been thinking about Baltimore a lot lately. Around this time last year I visited a friend from school there and had one of the best weeks of vacation, bar none. My memory has been able to retrieve the smallest details – the feel of the hardwood floor on my toes early in the morning, the spray of the water coming off the harbor cooling my hot skin, the sound of construction crews as they worked tirelessly on the road outside my friend’s apartment.
I remember my first meal there in vivid detail. Fresh off the plane (or as fresh as one can be after 4 hours of sleep and a nearly missed flight), we went to a Baltimore landmark, Miss Shirley’s, to sample a Baltimore classic, crab cakes.
Having had crab cakes in Wisconsin before and being less than impressed, my taste buds were primed to be disappointed.
I love when my taste buds are wrong.
Sadly, I won’t be going back to Baltimore anytime soon. But the memories of that meal, and the following week, float back to me. Memory in mind and nothing in my stomach, I try my best to do a Midwestern interpretation of the East Coast treats I dined on.
These Spinach and Jalapeno Salmon cakes were the result of leftovers and a still never-ending bunch of kale. Topped with sweet cherry tomatoes, left raw unlike their friend green cousins, this lunch was light and feeling at the same time.
I like to sauté kale just like spinach – with a little onion and garlic. If you don’t have kale, feel free to use spinach, as it would mimic the flavor in the salmon cakes.
Spinach and Jalapeno Salmon Cakes with Sautéed Kale and Cherry Tomatoes
4 ounces leftover salmon
¼ cup plain panko bread crumbs
1 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
½ jalapeno, finely diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 eggs whites, lightly beaten (or substitute 1 whole large egg)
2 cups roughly chopped fresh kale, stems and ribs removed
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup white onion, diced
½ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Lemon wedge, if desired
In a medium bowl crumble salmon and add bread crumbs, spinach, jalapeno and salt and pepper. Stir with a fork to combine. Add in egg whites and mix until mixture is wet and begin to form small ball. Set aside for 10 minutes.
While salmon sits, preheat a skillet over medium heat. Add in a drizzle of olive oil (two teaspoons should do the trick) along with the garlic and onions. Cook until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add in kale and let sit for a minute. Stir kale until wilted and warmed through. Transfer to plate.
In that same skillet, add in another drizzle of olive oil and turn heat to medium-high. Divide salmon mixture equally into three parts and form into balls. Press balls into small patties and place in preheated skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, or until browned on one side and flip to brown other side, about another 2 minutes.
Place salmon cakes on warmed kale and top with tomatoes. Finish off the whole shebang with a sprinkling of fresh lemon juice if you feel so inclined.