I was recently invited to participate in a recipe challenge hosted by Cooking Matters Colorado, an organization that empowers families to make healthy, affordable meals. And when they say affordable they aren’t kidding – we were asked to create a meal that would feed a family of four for roughly $1.40 per serving. I’m not sure how many of you have ever costed out your recipes, but this is a task in and of itself, and one that many families struggle with on a daily basis. You may be fortunate enough to buy the freshest, organic ingredients without bothering to look at price, but this is not an option for so many. I vividly remember a challenge during my dietetic internship where we were asked to live on a “food stamp” (now the SNAP program) budget for one week. I was able to manage, but the variety and nutritional value of my meals severely suffered. And while I won’t delve into politics, this same program that helps so many simply survive is in danger due to the fiscal cliff.

So to get the most nutritional bang for the buck, I made protein the star of my recipe. Oftentimes meat, poultry and seafood are the pricier purchases we add to our cart, but a great way to save money is by purchasing canned products, such as tuna, chicken and even salmon. For this recipe, I decided to use a product I had never tried before – canned salmon. I know many of you are thinking “that’s gross”, but trust me it’s not when you make a recipe like salmon cakes.

First, gather all of your ingredients.

salmon cake ingredients

2 6-oz cans of salmon, drained
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tsp Dijon mustard
paprika, rosemary and black pepper to taste
3 tbsp butter for cooking

Then, combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and gently stir together until well combined. For the salmon, be sure to purchase a variety that is packed in water. Wild Planet is my favorite brand of canned seafood, but at $4 per can, you would need to select another brand to meet the budget guidelines of this challenge. I just couldn’t pass up the chance to try their salmon, which is wild-caught (not farm-raised) from Alaska. Be sure to check these guys out if looking for sustainable canned seafood options.

Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Once melted, scoop salmon mixture onto hot surface in four patties. I chose to use an electric skillet we received from our gift registry, and was it ever perfect for this task. It heated up in seconds and I was able to cook all four patties at once. It’s okay to form the patties directly on the pan (I didn’t want to get my hands messy), but push everything together with a wooden spoon or spatula so your patties are secure and don’t fall apart when flipping. I had one casualty myself.

Enjoy the smell of the salmon cakes sizzling in warm butter. I always use butter over margarine, because it’s so important to eat real food. Once one side has browned, flip them over and brown the other side. The good news is the salmon is already pre-cooked so you don’t have to be concerned about undercooking or getting sick.

salmon cake cooking

Then, the salmon cakes are ready to enjoy! This recipe makes 4 3-oz salmon cakes, which is plenty filling. I recommend serving these with an extra dollop of Dijon mustard and on a bed of brown rice. Here’s looking at you gluten-free folks, just remember to check your mustard for hidden sources of gluten!

salmon cake final

I would like to thank Cooking Matters Colorado for inviting me to participate in this challenge as a local food and nutrition blogger. I guess that means I’m really a Colorado resident, huh? Well that and my new CO driver’s license.

I did not receive any free product or financial contributions in exchange for this post. My post will, however, qualify me to potentially win prizes from Cooking Matters CO.