Fifty Years Later & Grilled Salmon & Asparagus Salad

Sometimes an event can change you. Sometimes it takes more, a season or even an entire year. You might not notice it at first. It’s only later that you realize that your path diverged. That nice predictable route everyone fully expected you to travel, well, you didn’t.

For me, it’s happened twice. The first time was fifty years ago. It was 1968 and I’m sure I am not alone. I turned thirteen in March. My mother always said the two worst times in a woman’s life was when she was thirteen and when her daughter was thirteen. With two girls, Mom had an extra dose. Anyway, with the first of many pimples sprouting on my forehead and hormones ricocheting, I guess I was primed to be something of a mess.

It would be an understatement to say that 1968 was a tumultuous year. Seismic might still be too tame a label. Between the war in Vietnam and the civil rights movement, the US was a powder keg in search of a match. The first match flared in January when North Korea seized the USS Pueblo. Next came the Tet Offensive and event after horrible event just kept piling on. In February, police opened fire on students protesting segregation in South Carolina. Three were killed, twenty-seven were wounded. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April. Throughout the spring and summer, students protested racism and the war. There were strikes and young men burned their draft cards. Some demonstrations were peaceful, too many were not.

On top of everything, it was an election year. As a seventh grader, I was far from riveted by the various campaigns. Who were these old men? They seemed powerless, or maybe just disinterested, to end the war and the multitude of problems that plagued the country. That all changed when Robert Kennedy got into the race. He brought just enough hope to penetrate the psyche of a self-absorbed thirteen year old.

I still remember where I was and how I felt when I learned that Robert Kennedy had been shot. It was 6:00 in the morning. Like most school days, I was the first one up – not by choice but necessity. Stumbling into the bathroom, I flipped on the little radio that kept me company every morning while brushing my teeth and washing my face. Kennedy was ahead in the polls when I was sent to bed the night before. Winning California would most likely make him the democratic nominee for president. Knowing full well that, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” my ears were tuned for a confirmation.

The shooting was not the opening news story on the radio. It was the only story. I’m not even sure if the WRKO played any music that morning. (For anyone too young to remember, RKO, as we called it, was not always a home for conservative talk radio. In the sixties and seventies, it played top forty hits and was the station of choice for many teenagers.)

The news that another Kennedy had been shot was mind numbing. In spite of the already humid heat on that early June morning, the horror of another senselessness shooting left me feeling cold and empty. To make matters worse, the year was only half over and it didn’t get any better. Fifty years later, I only rarely get a pimple. However, morning, afternoon or evening, early June, September or February, senseless violence and prejudice continue to leave me feeling hollow … but now, I can and do vote.

Be sure to vote in the mid-term elections and bon appétit!

Grilled Salmon & Asparagus Salad
A perfect meal for one of those hot and humid June evenings. Enjoy!
Serves 8

2 1/2-3 pounds salmon fillet, skin-on
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2-1 lemon
1 1/2-2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
About 8 ounces mixed baby greens
1 pint cherry tomatoes – in a mix of colors if available
1/3-1/2 European cucumber, peeled, seed and chopped
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
Vinaigrette Niçoise (recipes follows)
3-4 tablespoons capers, drained

Preheat the grill to high. Drizzle the salmon with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Place the salmon, skin side up, on the grill. Depending on the thickness of the fish, grill for 5-6 minutes. Carefully turn the salmon with a wide spatula and grill for 3-5 minutes more or until cooked through but not dry.

Arrange the asparagus on the grill and, depending on thickness, cook for 1-3 minutes. Do not overcook, the asparagus should be tender-crisp.

Transfer the fish and asparagus to a cutting board and drizzle with lemon juice. Let the fish rest for about 5 minutes before cutting into thick slices. If you like, chop the asparagus.

To serve: put the greens, tomatoes, cucumber and scallions in a bowl, add enough Vinaigrette Niçoise to lightly coat and toss to combine. Arrange the salad on a large platter or individual plates, top with salmon and asparagus and sprinkle with capers.

Vinaigrette Niçoise
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic
1-inch chunk red onion
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
Dash hot sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3/4 cup or to taste extra-virgin olive oil

Put the vinegar, lemon juice, mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, onion, anchovy paste and hot sauce in a blender or small food processor, season with salt and pepper and pulse to combine and chop the garlic and onion. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil and process until smooth.

Store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Strawberry Tort
Two Years Ago – Grilled Potato Salad
Three Years Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Herb Quinoa Salad
Four Years Ago – Chocolate-Peanut Butter Tart
Five Years Ago – Salsa Verde
Six Years Ago – Blueberry Crumb Cake
Seven Years Ago – Peanut-Sesame Dipping Sauce
Eight Years Ago – Strawberry Gelato
Nine Years Ago – Asparagus Soup

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How do you beat the heat in the early days of summer? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

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2 thoughts on “Fifty Years Later & Grilled Salmon & Asparagus Salad

  1. I really enjoyed this post Susan….it took to right to the time and place. I am a few years younger than you and live on the other side of the planet but the sentiments you express around prejudice and violence strike a unifying chord. On top of that I love the combination of Salmon and asparagus…. classic!

    Like

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