Fish with Fennel and Tomato

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This is an oldie, but a goodie! Just made this again this weekend and was reminded of how wonderful I few simple ingredients can be!

Someday, I am going to retire and move to Italy. In my mind, that retirement includes doing yoga on the sunny balcony of an apartment in Cinque Terre, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. And shopping in the weekly market to buy fresh cheese and produce and local olives, capers, tomatoes and fish. And socializing with the other local old people who gather at the market. That image of coastal Italian splendor often helps me get through challenging days. It’s a nice mental happy place that includes food!

This recipe may become the tangible representation of my idyllic dream. With some fresh fish from Locals Seafood, local, organic fennel, fresh local tomatoes and parsley and thyme from our garden, this is a quick, summertime winner. If you want to grill your fish, you could do that and make the sauce in a separate dish–easy!

Fish with Tomato and Fennel (4 servings)

  • 4 fish fillets (we have used Spanish mackerel and swordfish with equal success)
  • 1/4 cup high quality olive oil
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
  • 6 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup unpitted olives (optional)
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian, flat leaf parsley
  • Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the fennel and cook without browning until it is soft (about 15 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the thyme and garlic and cook an additional 1 minute. Stir well.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, olives and capers to the pan. Raise the heat a bit and cook until the mixture is thick, but not dry (about 15 minutes depending on how much liquid your tomatoes hold). Reserve and keep warm.
  4. Cook fish to your preference (I pan seared ours, but grilling would be great also).
  5. Plate the fish and top with the tomato and fennel sauce. Garnish with parsley.
  6. Pour yourself a glass of wine, inhale the delicious aroma and dream…
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Cornmeal Dusted Trout

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I love fish and I’m thankful that my family does, too. We try to eat as much as we can, but in keeping with our budget, that ends up being one or two times a week. We are lucky that we are within a couple hours of the Atlantic coast and a small business, Locals Seafood, does a great job sourcing from North Carolina waters and delivering amazing, impossibly fresh seafood. Unless your family can’t stand it, buy fillets with the skin on. The skin crisps nicely and is good for you!

This week, we picked up trout and it was delicious. I love poaching thick fillets, but for thinner fillets like trout, we find pan searing or pan frying the best way to enjoy it. This recipe is very quick and simple and uses corn meal ground in Selma, North Carolina as a light coating. Because it uses a small amount of olive oil to brown the fish, this is better for you than deep fried and battered fish and MUCH healthier for you than processed fish sticks.

We served this fish with summer corn and green beans that we blanched and froze over the summer, but it would be very good with winter greens and roasted root vegetables as well.

Cornmeal Dusted Trout (serves 3)

3 fillets of trout (flounder works well, too)
1/2 cup of stone ground cornmeal
Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil or coconut oil

Set a cookie cooling rack over a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
On a plate or tray, sprinkle cornmeal and spread around the plate.
Sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper.
In a cast iron fry pan or saute pan, heat the oil over medium high heat.
Dredge fillets in cornmeal, pressing the corn flour into the fillets.
When oil is hot (not yet smoking), add the fillets, skin side down.
Allow fillets to brown, about 2 minutes.
CAREFULLY, with tongs, turn fillets and brown on the skinless side. Cook another 2-3 minutes or until nicely browned.
Remove fillets from pan and put on cooling rack.
Sprinkle with a bit of additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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