Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mangia Dry Rub: Broiled Salmon with Sautéed Golden Zucchini

Mangia Dry Rub: Broiled Salmon with Sautéed Golden Zucchini

Good food needs to be seasoned. A dish untouched by salt, pepper, herbs and other spices is just a bunch of ingredients. Seasoning is what brings those ingredients together, uniting them into a cohesive whole--something that really sings.

It's appropriate then that Mangia, ostensibly a company that makes and sells tasty dry rub seasoning blends, is really much more than that.

Mangia Dry Rub

I've gotten to know Mangia through the company's active participation in social media--first through the weekly #FoodieChats Twitter chat (Mondays, 8 p.m. Eastern) and then through Mangia's own online chat, the Mangia TV Vamp Cooking Vamp (Mondays, 7:30 p.m. Eastern), hosted by Mangia's Bob Heffernan.

Did I say Mangia calls their video chat a "vamp?" The term comes from jazz and popular music, meaning a simple introductory passage generally repeated and often improvised. Bob told me the term reminds him of his own approach in the kitchen, which I can definitely relate to. You have your go-to recipes, but you're always tweaking--often in the moment.  Dishes you make again and again are never exactly the same.

The vamp is part of Mangia's effort to be more than just the creator of a great product. Sensing the need for more community building, Mangia strives to be a lifestyle brand that helps build and strengthen connections forged around food and community. The vamps, which usually last a half hour, give Bob a chance to connect directly with an audience--a fun group of food enthusiasts he's started calling "Mangia Maniacs."

I've been an active participant in the vamps since they started late last year, and I've enjoyed the chance to connect with Bob and other food-minded friends as Bob leads us through a cornucopia of food subjects from the importance of mise en place to hosting a Game of Thrones-themed dinner party. He even hosts guests, such as Bacon & Legs writer Fontina Turner. Unlike a podcast, the vamps are live, and therefore unedited, given them a warm spontaneity lacking from many edited programs. And Bob's infectious enthusiasm for food and community permeates each program.

Mangia Fish Mojo Dry Rub up close.

And then, of course, there are the rubs. While not a focus of the vamps, they are often mentioned. Mangia's line-up includes rubs geared toward fish, shrimp and barbecue. Although branded as "Cajun" rubs, they are versatile seasoning blends with a wide array of applications. Personally, I don't do hardly any Cajun cooking (something I need to eventually rectify), but I've enjoyed using the rubs for other purposes.

The Fish Mojo Dry Rub is my favorite. It's a wonderfully balanced spicy-sweet blend with garlic, onion, paprika, black pepper, cayenne and turmeric. I've tried lots of different things with it, including mixing it with pecans and parmesan for a baked fish dish. My favorite way to use it though is to just keep it simple. In the recipes below, I've sprinkled the rub on broiled salmon with rosemary, broiled asparagus and sautéed golden zucchini. These are simple week-day recipes beautifully enhanced by the Mangia rub. As I've mentioned, we eat a lot of salmon, and my husband isn't always the biggest fish fan. But he was picking the bits of Mangia-seasoned salmon off the baking sheet last time I made the Fish Mojo Broiled Salmon. It's pretty darn good.

Living in a city apartment means I don't have a grill, but I imagine Mangia rubs would be great sprinkled on grilled steaks, ribs or vegetables. There are many more recipes for using the rubs on Mangia's website.

Mangia's rubs are available online and from a limited number of Illinois retailers. The rubs are made at Lamb Farms, a residential and vocational community for people with developmental disabilities located in Libertyville, Illinois.

A former long-time Illinois resident, Bob moved to Bend, Oregon last year. This gives Mangia connections to the Midwest and Northwest, but ultimately, Mangia is about connecting with people from all over. "We want to help people get back to gathering on a more regular basis around great food and drink," said Bob. He said they have lots of ideas for more products and are seeking partnerships with like-minded brands to build their store while also working to push the boundaries of social media and online engagement.

Just like seasoning brings the ingredients of a dish together, Mangia is striving to bring food-minded individual together to nurture a thoughtful and fun online food community. The world will certainly be a tastier place for it.

Fish Mojo Broiled Salmon

Makes 2 servings

3/4 lb. salmon fillet
Olive oil spray
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp. Mangia Fish Mojo Dry Rub
1 tbsp. chopped fresh chives

1. Preheat oven broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with olive oil spray.

2. Place salmon fillet skin-side down on prepared baking sheet. Spray with olive oil, then spread the rosemary on top. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. Fish Mojo Dry Rub. Place salmon under broiler and broil for about 5 minutes. Turn the fish over and broil another 5 minutes. Remove and discard the skin and check the fish for doneness (broil another 1 to 2 minutes if not cooked through). Divide fillet in half and transfer to two plates. Sprinkle with chives.

Sautéed Golden Zucchini

Makes 2 servings

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3-4 golden zucchini, cut into coins about 1/8 to 1/4 thick
1 tbsp. Mangia Fish Mojo Dry Rub

1. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.

2. When the pan is hot, add the zucchini and distribute in an even layer. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. Fish Mojo Dry Rub. Cook, undisturbed, about 5 minutes. Using a spatula, turn the zucchini and cook on the other side another 5 minutes until both sides are lightly browned. Remove from pan and transfer to two plates.

Simple Seasoned Broiled Asparagus

This is just my basic recipe for broiled asparagus but seasoned with Mangia Fish Mojo Dry Rub instead of the usual salt and pepper. It goes great with the salmon above.

Makes 2 servings

1 bunch of asparagus, rough ends trimmed off
extra virgin olive oil spray
1 tbsp. Mangia Fish Mojo Dry Rub

1. Preheat oven broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Spread asparagus in an even row on the baking sheet and spray with olive oil. Sprinkle with Fish Mojo Dry Rub. Broil about 7-8 minutes, stirring asparagus after 4 minutes. Serve immediately.

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