5 Pantry Essentials: Week One

January 19th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Photo courtesy of Brianna Tittel

Five weeks. Five ingredients. Five mouthwatering recipes.

I’m so excited! Today marks the first week of the five week blog series I am doing on 5 Pantry Essentials. Here’s the deal: for the next five weeks, I’ll be posting a different ingredient each Tuesday that should be stocked in every cook’s pantry. I’ll list what the ingredient is, some need-to-know nutritional information about it, what makes it an essential, and how to use it creatively. There will also be a featured recipe each week to go along with each ingredient. Ready to get started? I certainly am!

 Week One: canned wild salmon.


Nutrition Spotlight

  • Save your skin: salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. According to research presented in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, omega-3s may act as a shield for the body’s cell walls, therefore preventing them from getting free radical damage. Free radical damage leads to premature aging and early wrinkle formation. Eating omega-3s in salmon, even as little as two 3-ounce servings of the fish per week, will give you a good start on combatting cell damage and saving your skin.
  • Go wild: when consuming any type of fish, it’s always important to choose wild-caught whenever possible. Studies have indicated that farm-raised salmon can have up to 11 times more chemicals and pollutants in it than wild salmon. One study revealed that PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls, which the Department of Health and Human Services has determined are cancer-causing carcinogens) are up to 10 times higher in farm-raised fish than wild-caught. The wonderful thing about canned salmon is that it’s almost always wild. Be sure to scour labels just in case, though. If it’s not clearly stated that the salmon is wild Pacific or Alaskan fish, don’t buy it. Call the manufacturer first to double-check.
  • Protein: salmon is a super source of protein, which may help to curb carb cravings and decrease the appetite when eaten in proper amounts. Whether you choose to have a scoop of salmon salad atop a bed of greens for lunch or enjoy a bit of canned salmon with some whole grain crackers for a snack, it packs a big protein punch that will help you stay satisfied.


What Makes it Essential

If nothing else, canned salmon is very versatile. Because it flakes up easily with a fork into bite-sized pieces, canned salmon is perfect for…

  • Topping salads in a pinch
  • Adding to fritattas or omelets for added protein and flavor
  • Combining with a little plain yogurt and lemon juice for a quick salmon spread
  • Mixing with whole grain pasta and veggies for a delicious and hearty pasta salad

Stock a few cans of salmon in your pantry for days when you need a quick protein to go to for lunches or dinners. Good quality canned wild salmon is widely available in markets across the country such as Whole Foods, but here’s another source available for purchase online.


The Recipe

Today’s recipe features canned salmon in these delicious Salmon-Potato Cakes. They are kind of like crab cakes (except with salmon, of course), but contain no gluten or dairy. Serve these up with a tossed vegetable salad for a light and nutritious supper or lunch. If you can tolerate dairy, they would be tasty topped with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream and a sprig of parsley for garnish.

Come to think of it, these cakes would make a lovely addition to a breakfast or brunch buffet as well. You could even experiment with serving them as a healthy appetizer at parties (hint, hint: Super Bowl!).

Salmon-Potato Cakes – Makes 8 small cakes

2 small (or 1 large) Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into cubes

2 tbs. olive oil, divided

Pinch of salt

1 14-oz. can wild salmon (or 2 6-7 ounce cans), drained, skin removed, flesh flaked with a fork

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 tbs. parsley, finely chopped

3 tbs. scallions or red onion, finely chopped

1 tbs. ground flaxseed meal

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Lemon wedges (optional), for serving

In a small pot, cover potato cubes with cold water and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cook until tender when pierced with fork, 10-15 minutes. Drain and—using a fork—mash potatoes with 1 tbs. olive oil and a pinch of salt. Place 7 tablespoons of potato mixture in a large mixing bowl. (Reserve any remaining potatoes for another use.)

To potatoes in mixing bowl add salmon, egg, parsley, scallions, flaxseed, and pepper. Mix well until all ingredients are combined and cohesive. Form the mixture into 8 patties of equal size. (To get evenly sized patties, divide mass of salmon mixture into quarters. Then divide each quarter in half to form one patty.) Chill salmon cakes in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.

Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet or griddle pan. Add salmon cakes and cook 4-5 minutes per side until golden. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Be sure to stop by next Tuesday for Pantry Essential #2. You won’t want to miss it! Until then, enjoy your salmon cakes and omega-3s!

(This post is linked up to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Fight Back Friday.)


  1. Okay, so cool! This is a fantastic series =D.

  2. localnourishment said on January 22, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    We had salmon patties growing up, but when we started cutting back on grains, I stopped making it. I had a hard time finding a binder that would hold the patties together as well as flour. I don’t know why potatoes never occurred to me! Thanks so much!

  3. Thank you for this series and this delicious recipe. I’m going out tomorrow in search of “Wild caught salmon. Wish me luck. Thanks again. Keep up the good work. I can’t wait for next week.
    Marly :)

  4. Bravo for featuring canned salmon! When we can’t access wild (much less afford it every day) – this is a great alternative.
    Here’s a recipe I offered awhile back for salmon souffle made in the blender! http://cook4seasons.com/archives/blender-salmon-souffle
    Btw – I’m another BC grad…NE and Natural Chef. Hope to connect one day…

  5. simplysavory said on January 26, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Cook 4 Seasons — your souffle recipe looks tasty. What a coincidence that we both are BC grads! Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

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