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Time to Feed the Lion: Easy, Inexpensive Salmon Cakes

Many people try to eat fish rich in Omega-3s at least once a week, but fresh salmon can be pricey and not always all that "fresh." Spending much of your food budget on one piece of fish seems like a bad idea if it limits your ability to buy other foods that also are good for you, like fresh vegetables and fruits. As an alternative to expensive fresh salmon, consider canned salmon. No, it isn't cat food, although the kitty in the photo below probably would be quite happy to have it (at the time I took the photo, the hungry "lion" was looking for birdies and just stopped by for a drink at our backyard birdbath). In fact, canned salmon works quite well and is much faster to use to make salmon cakes than fresh salmon. My husband really likes the salmon cakes, I suspect even more so than the fresh salmon. I alternate between baking the salmon cakes and browning them in a skillet on the stove. Baking the cakes is easiest, because it's more "hands off," and baking also produces a more even, golden-brown crust. Nonetheless, pan cooking the salmon cakes is a better option if you don't want to heat the oven (it's 92 degrees here in May! We skipped spring!). The salmon cakes are full of vegetables as well as salmon, crispy on the outside, and flavored with plenty of dill. I like them with a simple yogurt sauce, but you can serve them plain or with tartar sauce, if you'd prefer. Try them. The salmon cakes are great for feeding people who are hungry as lions but can't or don't want to afford to eat like kings (of the jungle or otherwise).

Inexpensive Salmon Cakes

Easy, Inexpensive Salmon Cakes -- Serves 4+

1-2 teaspoons of canola oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 rib of celery, chopped (about 1/4 cup)

Half a red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, chopped (about 1/4 cup)

1 large can of salmon (15-16 ounces--you can remove the skin and bones, if you prefer--I remove

the skin but leave the bones, which are soft, nutritious, and mix in fine with the other ingredients)

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 tablespoon of grainy Dijon mustard

1/4 cup of plain, non-fat yogurt

1/4 cup of low-fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon of lemon pepper

1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon of dried dill

1 egg

1-2 cups of stale breadcrumbs (2-4 slices, preferably of sourdough!)

Yogurt Sauce

1/4 cup of plain, non-fat yogurt

2 tablespoons of peach or apricot preserves

1 teaspoon of dried minced chives

1/2 teaspoon of curry powder

Combine the onion, celery, and pepper in a large microwave-safe bowl with 1 tablespoon of water and microwave the vegetables for 1-2 minutes until they soften a little. Add the salmon, garlic powder, mustard, yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon pepper, parsley, dill, and egg and mix everything well to combine all the ingredients. Add enough bread crumbs to make the mixture cohesive. You want the salmon cakes to just hold together when you shape them. The amount of bread you use will depend in part on how fresh it is. Stale bread is actually good, because it helps soak up the moisture from the salmon mixture, so you may need less bread. If you can, let the salmon mixture sit for 5-10 minutes, then stir it again and decide if you need to add more bread crumbs. Heat the canola oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the oil and pan are hot, form patties 2-3 inches in diameter and add them to the skillet. If you crowd the pan, you'll have trouble (as I did!) turning the patties, and they'll fall apart and not look all that good. So, it's best to cook the salmon cakes in batches (I often don't, because I'm usually in a hurry, and my husband, like a lion, is hungry). Cook the patties for 3-5 minutes on one side and flip them and cook them another 3-5 minutes on the other side until they're firm and cooked through. If you'd like to make the sauce, combine all the ingredients and whisk them until they're smooth. Top the salmon cakes with some of the sauce or serve it alongside the salmon cakes. If you'd prefer, form the salmon cakes, place them on a baking sheet coated with non-stick cooking spray, and bake them at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through and golden. The photo below shows the cakes that were cooked in a skillet.

Easy, Inexpensive Canned Salmon Cakes

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