Salmon, Cauliflower and Quinoa Gratin; processed food

This is another dish from my French gratin cook book – so the original recipe was a bit rich…

And it served four.

I tweaked and substituted and cut back…..

I added quinoa, reduced the salmon, added smoked salmon and substituted yogurt for heavy cream….

It was still more than enough for the two of us.

I would say this would serve three nicely… Or two, with leftovers for lunch.

Even mon mari liked it.

He may have to stop calling Friday ‘Fish Hell Night’.

Salmon, Cauliflower and Quinoa Gratin

Total time: 50 minutes


  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup (8oz, 240gr) chicken stock
  • 8oz (250gr) fresh salmon, cut into slices about 1/2″ (1.2cm) thick
  • 4oz (120gr) smoked salmon, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 medium leek, sliced 
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 120gr) Greek or plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 120gr) mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup (2oz, 60gr) Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tbs olive oil

Salmon, Cauliflower and Quinoa Gratin

  • Cook quinoa is stock until done, app. 15 minutes.
  • Cook cauliflower in rapidly boiling water for 10 minutes, drain.
  • Sauté leek in 2 tsp olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Use remaining 1 tsp olive oil to oil a grating dish just large enough to hold everything.
  • Mix dill weed, mascarpone and yogurt. Add cooked, drained cauliflower and stir gently.
  • To assemble: 
  • Spread quinoa in the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Spread the leeks on the quinoa.
  • Arrange the salmon, then the smoked salmon on the leeks.
  • Top with the cauliflower cheese mixture.
  • Cover with foil and bake, 400F (200C) for 20 minutes.
  • Uncover, sprinkle with Parmesan, and bake 10 minutes longer, until cheese starts to brown.  Remove and serve.

I was flipping through my most recent issue of Cooking Light magazine today and a question occurred to me.

Everyone is touting the benefits of eating fresh food.

To my way of thinking, fresh food means food that is not processed or minimally processed. I accept the fact that milk, cheese, orange juice, tomato sauce, etc. undergo some processing to get into the containers to be transported and sold.

But isn’t more than minimal processing required to get the fat out of cheese and still have it resemble cheese? Or sour cream?

Now that I think about it…. Wouldn’t ‘non-fat sour cream’ really be ‘sour skim milk’?

Not a pleasant thought….

My questions is this: Does all the non-fat, lo-fat, reduced-fat stuff still qualify as ‘fresh food’?

Or does is slide into the category of processed food?


6 thoughts on “Salmon, Cauliflower and Quinoa Gratin; processed food”

  1. To my mind, anything that has been low-fatted, de-fatted, etc., is processed. Sometimes the package will say ‘minimally processed’, but it’s still processed. Good question, Katie. Pasta is made from wheat, egg, and water: is it processed? Wine is made from the fermentation process of grapes: same question. So is beer for that matter. As I think about it, the list grows longer.

  2. Ok…first off…I think I would love the salmon dish. I pretty much love salmon, and the other ingredients would just help the salmon to my mouth!
    As for the processed food question…I think the low fat/no fat stuff is crap. Excuse my language.
    The process of taking out the fat is worse for you than the fat…which is not as bad as “they” say it is.
    Healthy fats are just that…healthy. Not soy. Not canola. Not vegetable oil. All ice.
    But real butter, olive oil, lard rendered from pigs who were not penned up in tiny little pens….all good for you.
    Margarine….might as well poison yourself!
    Just my two cents worth, Katie!

  3. Yes, low fat, no fat is highly processed. I guess we all have to decide our own processed limits, but I did cancel my cooking light subscription…too many processed ingredients that I can’t even find here.

  4. Ooh, we’ve been iffy on quinoa but this dish could resolve that.
    >My questions is this: Does all the non-fat, lo-fat, reduced-fat stuff still qualify as ‘fresh food’?
    I don’t think so. While the USA is awash in misleading food advertising, I’d call even 2% milk processed, while I wouldn’t call pasteurized milk processed (even though it is). Then again, my raw milk source left town and I’m forced to buy grocery store milk again. This country is stabbed through and through with the most crazy terms that food producers use to get as close as they legally can to the idea of real, fresh food, without violating the law. Which are laws the Federal government is woefully unequipped to enforce in the first place.
    For example, the Federal government has only the loosest interpretation of what “organic” or “free-range” means. Perhaps the Feds are unable to resolve this because they are too busy raiding raw milk dairies nationwide, or else a local government is digging up someone’s front-yard vegetable garden as an eyesore, or else destroying hundreds of pounds of cheese because one test showed listeria and another agency’s test showed no listeria.
    Insanity. Your Gratin is anything but insane, fortunately.

  5. Christine, for me, as long as the ingredients are real food and not unpronounceable mysteries, I’m okay….
    Cindy, I agree – I don’t use anything that has been fussed with. If one wants to reduce fat – don’t eat so much LOL
    Meredith, I’m seriously considering it cancelling too… I’m just not liking the recipes as much – even when I make them using real food.
    Dan, I can get raw milk out of a machine at the supermarket…. And there are photos of the farmers posted above the butcher’s counter that raised the meat. I used to be able to buy chickens with their feathers still on – not that I did…. ;-)) People are still pretty close to the land here and want to know where their food is from.
    manningroad, that is fresh food – I miss my garden. 2 more months!

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