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Easy Grilled Sea Bass

  • July 25, 2022

This summer’s heat wave has been unrelenting, with many places in our area reaching more than 100 degrees. Who feels like heating up the kitchen in this weather? Not I, but I still like to eat well, and can only eat out so often or get takeout before I crave a home cooked meal. This sea bass dish is so simple to make, when you use a disposable aluminum pan on your grill. It keeps the heat outdoors; it’s delicious and good for you too. I cooked the tomatoes in the pan for a few minutes first, before adding the fish, because the fish takes only five minutes on a hot grill, not enough time for the tomatoes to soften, especially since some of them aren’t on the bottom of the pan in direct contact with the hottest part of the pan. Just snuggle all the ingredients in the pan. It’s easy for us to get locally caught sea bass this time of year, but if you don’t have access to it, use another type of fileted fish, like flounder, branzino or snapper. Make sure to use abundant minced herbs. In this case, I used chives, thyme and parsley.

In addition to the capers and olives, I added a couple of small hot peppers to give it a bit more tang. It really wasn’t very hot since I didn’t split the peppers and expose the seeds, so give it a try. I also added some pickled green peppers and they gave it some zip too.

It took only five minutes to cook on the grill, resulting in this flavorful, easy-to-make meal fit for company. I’ll be making this many times before the summer is over, substituting whatever is the freshest catch in the fish market that day. If your fish is thicker, just leave it for a longer time on the grill.

I served it with some rice (and other vegetables not shown). I’ve even been known to plug in my rice cooker in an outlet outdoors, eliminating the need to turn on the indoor burners entirely.

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Grilled Sea Bass
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • one pound sea bass (or any other filleted fish like flounder, branzino, etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • about 6 to 8 cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half or quartered if large
  • about a dozen olives, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • a couple of red hot peppers
  • a few green pickled peppers
  • minced fresh herbs (I used thyme, parsley and chives)
  • half a lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • a disposable aluminum pan
Instructions
  1. Place the olive oil and butter in the disposable pan.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, a litlte salt and pepper and place the pan on top of a grill.
  3. Cook the tomatoes for about five minutes to soften a little, because the fish will take only five minutes and in the tomatoes won't soften enough if you wait to put them in when you put in the fish.
  4. Meanwhile, season the fish with salt and pepper and the herbs.
  5. After the tomatoes have cooked for five minutes, remove the pan from the grill and add the fish to the disposable pan, flipping them in the butter and olive oil once to moisten the fish.
  6. More liquid will be released from the fish after a few minutes.
  7. Add the rest of the ingredients, spreading them evenly around the pan.
  8. Place the pan on the hot grill once again, and close the lid on the grill.
  9. Cook for about 5 minutes, longer if the fish is thick.
  10. Remove to a serving platter aand enjoy.
 

Flounder with canned cherry tomatoes, olives and capers

  • March 2, 2022

I’m a big fan of canned cherry tomatoes, especially in the winter when fresh tomatoes are so tasteless. But I use them all year long too, in soups, sauces and other ways.  They might be hard to find where you live, and if that’s the case, there are plenty of sources online to buy them. They’re definitely worth seeking with their intense, jammy flavor. With the Lenten season upon us, this makes for an easy and delicious Friday meal. It’s packed with flavor from not only the tomatoes, but also from the olives and capers. And it takes minutes to prepare and cook. Place everything in a parchment-lined tin or rimmed cookie sheet for easy cleanup. Pour a little olive oil over the parchment, place the fish over the oil, then season with salt and pepper. Spread some of the tomatoes on top, and cut up some olives (I used green olives but you could just as well use purple Kalamata olives or cured black Sicilian olives too.) Spread the olives and capers all over the fish, then add some herbs. I used oregano that I dried from my plants last summer, plus some fresh parsley. Give everything another little sprinkle of olive oil and place in the oven for five to six minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish.

You could use nearly any kind of fish filets for this recipe, from flounder, to sole, to snapper to branzino, If you use cod or a similarly thicker fish, you’ll need to keep it in the oven longer than six minutes. Use a wide spatula to transfer each filet to a serving platter, otherwise the pieces will break.

Serve with rice, pasta or quinoa to soak up all those healthy, delicious juices that come oozing out after it’s cooked.

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Flounder with canned cherry tomatoes, olives and capers
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • one pound flounder, sole, branzino or snapper filets
  • canned cherry tomatoes
  • green olives
  • capers
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • dried oregano
  • fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place a piece of parchment paper over a baking sheet and sprinkle a little olive oil over the paper.
  3. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.
  4. Lay the fish over the olive oil and spread the cherry tomatoes, olives and capers on top, using as much or as little as you like.
  5. Sprinkle some dried oregano and fresh parsley over the fish and give everything another drizzle of olive oil.
  6. Bake for five to six minutes, or longer if your fish is thick.
  7. Serve with rice, noodles or quinoa.
 

Zucchini Crusted Haddock with Orange Salsa

  • January 13, 2022

Just in time for the January “let’s-eat low-cal-but-delicious” comes this recipe from Michele at “Our Italian Table.” As soon as I saw it, with its accompaniment of blood orange salsa, I knew what would be on our dinner table the next night. I made some adjustments, using haddock instead of cod, since my fish market has been selling really fresh wild haddock lately. Halibut would also be delicious here. I would have used the blood oranges called for in the recipe, but I had cara cara instead, and they worked just fine. But I’ll look for blood oranges next time, since they would add even more color. I added a little red onion and parsley, since I didn’t have the thyme the recipe called for, but other herbs would work great too, including chives or cilantro.

Use a mandoline to slice the zucchini very thinly and place the slices atop the fish, which has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Season the zucchini with salt and pepper too, then a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of cornmeal. Don’t try to tuck the slices under the fish or you’ll be asking for trouble.

When the fish comes out of the oven, the slices are then pliable enough to easily tuck them under. A lot of liquid was released from the fish and the zucchini, but cooking the fish over parchment paper makes for easy cleanup.

While the fish is cooking, make the salsa using either blood oranges, cara cara or any other orange you like. Peel the orange with a knife, then cut supremes (no, not the Motown group, but orange sections) in between each membrane.

I served it with some saffron rice and broccoli and it was not only a colorful meal, but a delicious one that was waistline-friendly too.

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Zucchini Crusted Haddock with Orange Salsa
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR TWO PEOPLE:
  • ¾- 1 pound haddock, cod or halibut
  • thin slices of zucchini
  • salt, pepper
  • olive oil
  • cornmeal to sprinkle on top
  • FOR THE SALSA:
  • 2 oranges (cara cara or blood oranges)
  • a slice of red onion, finely chopped
  • minced parsley (or chives, thyme or cilantro)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic (or red wine) vinegar
  • salt, pepper
Instructions
  1. Season the fish with salt and pepper.
  2. Lay the fish on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
  3. Slice the zucchini paper thin, either with a mandoline or by hand.
  4. Layer the slices over the fish, overlapping them like fish scales.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of cornmeal.
  6. Cook in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
  7. While the fish is cooking, make the salsa by segmenting the oranges and mixing with the rest of the ingredients.
 

Grilled Codfish with Cherry Tomatoes

  • August 28, 2021

I’ve got a gazillion cherry tomatoes ripening on the vine and looking for a home. This recipe, adapted from my blogging buddy, Stacey, is the perfect place for these teensy tomatoes that are no larger than a small sourball candy. You probably won’t be able to find them this tiny, but regular-sized cherry or grape tomatoes work fine here too. Everything gets placed in a disposable aluminum pan and cooked on a hot grill, keeping your kitchen cool on a hot summer’s day. In 15 minutes, dinner is ready, and you don’t have to flip the fish at all if you keep the lid down on the grill. You needn’t limit yourself to cod either. Try it with flounder, snapper or halibut, for example, but depending on the thickness of the fish, you may have to cook it a shorter or longer time on the grill.

There is a lot of delicious sauce that oozes forth from the tomatoes and other ingredients, so serve it over rice, polenta or pasta to soak up all those juices.

Since I was heavy-handed with the tomatoes, there were a lot left over, after we had eaten all the fish. I saved a little of the rice and green beans also, and the next day had a delicious lunch heated up in the microwave.

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Codfish with Cherry Tomatoes on the Grill
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. codfish
  • whole cherry tomatoes (I didn't measure but there were at least two cups - use as many as you like)
  • 3 anchovies (anchovy haters - please don't ignore these - it won't taste like anchovies, but adds a great "umami" flavor)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt & pepper
  • 1 lemon, half sliced and placed in pan, and half juiced and poured into the pan
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • fresh oregano leaves
  • fresh basil leaves, minced
  • fresh parsley minced
Instructions
  1. Drizzle a little olive oil onto the bottom of a disposable aluminum pan.
  2. Add the codfish, seasoning with salt and pepper and then placing a pat of butter on top
  3. Pour the juice of half a lemon over the fish.
  4. Place the rest of the ingredients (except the basil and parsley) in the pan and toss lightly to coat everything.
  5. Cook on a hot grill with the lid closed for 15 minutes, (or longer if your fish is thicker and not cooked through)
  6. Sprinkle the cooked fish with the minced basil and parsley, and serve.
 

Cioppino

  • March 29, 2021

In a recent episode of Stanley Tucci’s “Searching For Italy,” when he was on the Tuscan coast that borders Liguria, he ate a seafood stew called cacciucco, prepared by chef Fabbio Picchi, who owns the restaurant Cibreo in Florence. Picchi followed the cacciucco with a pasta dish tossed in the leftover sauce after the seafood had been polished off. Here I am, chatting with Picchi on a trip to Florence when travel to Italy was relatively easy.

The dishes he prepared and that show in general, had me dreaming about going back to Italy. Since that’s not possible in this pandemic, I had to do the next best thing — cook something like it at home that might transport me for a little while to la bell’Italia. Having just returned from a vacation in the Caribbean where I ate seafood every day, I felt driven to keep up the seafood vibe and decided to make cioppino – an Italian American seafood dish with origins in San Francisco that is similar to cacciucco. So many cultures have versions of seafood stews, and aside from cacciucco, Italy also lays claim to brodetto, a fish stew from the Abruzzo region,  that’s slightly less soupy and tomato-y than cacciucco or cioppino, and is cooked in a clay vessel. I helped prepare this brodetto several years ago while on a trabocco (small wooden fishing piers that jut into the Adriatic) along Abruzzo’s coastline. To read more about trabocchi, click here.

To make the cioppino, start by softening the vegetables in olive oil — onion, garlic, celery, carrots, green pepper and some fennel.

Next add the tomatoes, white wine and seasonings. Be very generous with the basil and parsley. You can make this in a Dutch oven, or in a more shallow pan, like this one. This recipe includes seafood amounts for two very generous servings, but intentionally makes enough sauce for a whole lot more. After we scarfed down all the seafood the night I made this, there was still plenty of leftover sauce to serve over pasta the next day.

After the sauce has simmered for about aan hour, add the shellfish and the rest of the seafood. You don’t have to use the same amounts or types of seafood I did. It’s a very fluid recipe and you can substitute whatever you like and eliminate whatever seafood I’ve included that you don’t like. I used cod but haddock or halibut would be great too. The cost of all this seafood can get a little pricey, but it’s a delicious splurge and would be perfect for a Lenten Friday (or Christmas Eve).  Put the shellfish in after you’ve put the rest of the seafood in, to try to keep them from getting submerged too much and hinder their opening. Place the lid on the pot and keep it at a simmer for 15 minutes, without checking or removing the lid.

After 15 minutes, check to see if the fish is cooked through. If not, put the lid back on for a few more minutes until everything is cooked properly. Some of the clams and mussels might still be closed, so put those aside in a separate pan and place it over a low heat by itself, while you portion out the cioppino, either in the pan where you cooked it, or in a tureen, gently lifting the seafood. The cod will easily fall apart unless you use a large spoon to scoop it up whole.

Serve in bowls with crusty toasted bread, smeared with olive oil and salt, or over polenta.

I made some homemade pasta to toss with the leftover sauce. It was perfect for the next evening’s meal. If I can’t have Italy right now, at least I can have pasta and cioppino!

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Cioppino
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • The amounts for the seafood are for two very generous servings. If you add more seafood to serve more people, you don't need to increase the amount of sauce. This recipe provides enough sauce for at least three or four more servings. In fact, after we had eaten all the seafood from the Cioppino one night, my husband and I used the leftover sauce the next day and served it over homemade pasta, and there was still plenty of sauce left in the pan that I didn't use.
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • ¼ cup green onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup green pepper, minced
  • ¼ cup celery, minced
  • ½ of a large fennel bulb, sliced roughly
  • ½ medium carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 26.46 oz. box of finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 26.46 oz. box of strained tomatoes
  • (or use all strained tomatoes, or all finely chopped tomatoes if you prefer)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup water (use it to swish out any remaining bits of tomato from the tomato box, jar or cans you use).
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • a sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
  • ½ pound halibut, cod or similar fleshy white fish
  • ½ pound fresh shrimp
  • ½ pound fresh scallops
  • 6 squid bodies, cut into "rings"
  • a dozen mussels
  • a dozen and a half clams
Instructions
  1. Sauté onion, green onion, green pepper, celery, carrot, fennel and garlic in olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pan until limp.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, bay leaf, parsley, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.
  3. Heat to boiling and add the white wine.
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer.
  5. Simmer one hour, then discard the bay leaf.
  6. Cut the cod, or whatever white fish you're using, into two large pieces.
  7. Scrub the clams and mussels thoroughly, removing any "beard" from the mussels.
  8. Cut the squid into rings, and shell and devein the shrimp.
  9. Add the clams and the mussels to the pan, then add the rest of the seafood to the tomato sauce -- the squid, the shrimp, the scallops and the cod.
  10. Put the lid on and let everything cook together at a simmer for 15 minutes, WITHOUT STIRRING and WITHOUT LIFTING THE LID.
  11. If you stir, you will break up the codfish, which flakes apart easily when cooked.
  12. Check it after 15 minutes and if the fish is all cooked, serve the cioppino in the pan you cooked it, or remove it gently to a serving tureen.
  13. If some of the shellfish haven't opened, let them continue cooking in a separate pot, which should take only a few more minutes.
  14. Sprinkle with parsley and serve in bowls with plenty of toasted crusty bread smeared with olive oil and salt, or over polenta.
 

 

 

Seared Salmon

  • March 12, 2021

Salmon is a staple in our diet, and I typically make it in the oven, spritzing with some lemon juice, then smearing with a little Dijon mustard, dill and roasting it for 12 minutes at 400 degrees. But I recently started pan searing it and have discovered our new favorite way to eat salmon. The browning in butter makes for a crunchy top, and adds more flavor to an already distinctive fish. Start by seasoning the salmon with salt and pepper, then placing skin side UP, into a skillet that’s been coated with some olive oil, and turned to medium to high heat, as in the photo below.

After it’s been cooking for about three or four minutes, check to see if it’s browned enough to your liking. Then flip it so that the skin makes contact with the pan. Warning: This splatters a lot so be prepared to clean your cooktop after dinner is over. Place a lid on the pan and let it cook for another couple of minutes.

Remove the lid and lower the heat a bit. I wanted the butter to be the dominant flavor, so I drained the olive oil at this point, but if you don’t mind the extra calories, leave in the olive oil when you add the butter. Add the shaved garlic and lemon juice, and spoon a little of the liquid over the salmon. Sprinkle with the parsley, and place a lid on top again.

Cook for another two to three minutes and serve. Rice is always a good complement to fish, as are any number of vegetables, from squash to green beans. Serve with extra lemon.

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Seared Salmon
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR TWO SERVINGS:
  • 2 pieces of salmon, with skin on, total weight about 1-1/14 lbs.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • juice of ½ lemon, plus a few slices for garnish
  • salt, pepper
  • minced parsley
Instructions
  1. season the salmon with salt and pepper and a little lemon juice, saving most of the lemon juice for later.
  2. Turn up the heat on the skillet to medium high and place the salmon, skin side up, in the pan.
  3. Let it sear for about three or four minutes, or until it forms a nice crust.
  4. Using a long spatula, carefully flip the salmon over, being careful not to break the skin.
  5. Turn the heat to medium, and place a lid on the pan.
  6. Cook over medium heat for another two minutes.
  7. Remove the lid, and drain off most of the oil (or you can leave it if you want).
  8. Lower the heat to low to medium, then add the two tablespoons of butter, the garlic slices and the lemon juice.
  9. Spoon a bit of the liquid over the salmon.
  10. Sprinkle with parsley and place the lid on again.
  11. Cook for another two to three minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.
 

Swordfish alla Bagnarese

  • July 5, 2019

My kitchen shelves are bursting with cookbooks, many of which seldom get used after the initial purchase. Are you like me, in falling back on dishes you’ve made over and over again, rather than trying some of those recipes in those forgotten cookbooks? I have a new resolve to open those cookbooks more often, since there is such a wealth of good recipes still to be explored. I have loved Rosetta Costantino’s “My Calabria” since it first came out several years ago, especially since my father’s family is from Calabria. I’ve probably made only about three or four of the recipes from this book, but there are dozens I still want to try. I recently made this swordfish recipe from Rosetta’s book for the first time, and I know it’s going to be one of those that I’ll make over and over again. It’s easy, it’s quick to cook, it’s healthy and it’s delicious.

The hardest part is finding a heatproof shallow bowl that’s just big enough for your swordfish piece and a lidded pot that can hold the bowl. My swordfish weighed a little less than one pound, enough for the two of us. For larger amounts, it might be tricky to find appropriate size container, but I’ve got another solution below. Season with salt and pepper, then add the shaved garlic, a little olive oil, capers, parsley and lemon juice. Cover it tightly with aluminum foil, then place it the bowl inside a larger saucepan with water that comes up halfway on the outside of the bowl. Place a lid on the saucepan and turn the heat up fairly high. It will need to cook anywhere from 8 minutes to 14 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

Remove the foil and check to see if the fish is cooked through. If too much water has gathered in the bowl, drain some off and add another drizzle of olive oil and some fresh parsley. I like extra lemon squirted over it too.

OK, if you’re still with me and want to make more than two portions, make this recipe using parchment paper and your oven. I placed the swordfish on a piece of parchment paper resting on a cookie tin, then added all the rest of the ingredients (actually I had fresh garlic scapes so I used those instead of garlic slivers.) I also added a couple of slices of fresh lemon in addition to the lemon juice.

Close the parchment package, crimping all along the edges. I should state that the parchment paper should be cut to a kind of heart shape that’s a lot bigger than the fish. You’ll place the fish on one half of the heart shape.

I wasn’t sure how long to roast it (my fish was about 3/4 inch thick), but I cooked it for 15 minutes at 400 degrees in the oven. It was perfect. I suspect that 12 minutes might work for thinner cuts, and because of the liquids surrounding the fish, it stayed beautifully moist.

Sprinkle with more fresh herbs before serving to give it a “greener” look.

Serve with rice or potatoes to scoop up those delicious liquids from the fish, and a green vegetable of your choice for a low-cal, but delicious meal.

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swordfish
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 skinless fresh swordfish steaks, about ⅜ inch thick and 5 to 6 ounces each
  • (I made it with one swordfish steak that was about ¾ inch thick and weighed slightly less than a pound.)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 large garlic cove, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon capers, preferably salt-packed, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (I used more)
Instructions
  1. Season the swordfish on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Using the 1 tablespoon olive oil, coat a baking dish just large enough to hold the swordfish.
  3. Put the swordfish in the baking dish and scatter the garlic around it.
  4. Sprinkle the surface of the fish with capers and parsley.
  5. Spoon the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon water over the fish.
  6. Cover the baking dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.
  7. Choose a large roasting pan or other deep pan that can take stovetop heat and accommodate the baking dish.
  8. Set the pan on a burner and put the baking dish in it.
  9. In a separate pan or teakettle bring several cups of water to a boil for pouring into the roasting pan.
  10. Turn the heat to high under the roasting pan and add enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish.
  11. After the water returns to a boil, cook the fish for 8 minutes (It took closer to 14 minutes to cook my fish, but it was thicker than Rosetta's.)
  12. Uncover and check for doneness; the fish should be cooked through but still moist and surrounded with flavorful juices.
  13. Taste the juices and add more salt if necessary.
  14. Serve the swordfish in shallow bowls, spooning the garlicky broth over the fish.
  15. Drizzle each portion with additional olive oil.
 

 

Swordfish Steak with Salsa Verde

  • December 31, 2017

Sorry readers, if I’ve been a little derelict in keeping up with this blog in the last month. But between a nasty bout with bronchitis and the last minute onslaught of Christmas preparations, updating the blog has taken a back seat. But I’m back and hoping to catch up with all of you.

I hope you all had wonderful holidays surrounded by family and friends, with good food in abundance. If you’re like most people, you ate way too many cookies, cheeses, meats and other fattening foods. Are you  starting to make resolutions to eat a little lighter in the new year ahead?

The excessive holiday eating leaves me craving healthier foods, although I don’t get serious until after New Year’s eve and New Year’s day — one final hurrah before the Christmas indulgence is truly over.

But as soon as the holidays are past, I plan to eat less pasta, pizza and pastries and consume more fish, vegetables and fruit. This swordfish dish is a good way to start. It’s easy to make and delicious too. Just remember not to overcook the swordfish, which can taste dry if left too long in the broiler or on the grill. I use the same technique in cooking a swordfish steak as I do in cooking a beefsteak — that is, the finger test. Press the center of the fish after a few minutes in the broiler. It should have some “give” to it. If you cook it too long, it will feel hard and won’t “spring” back when you touch it.

Buon Anno tutti!

Swordfish Steak with Salsa Verde
 
Ingredients
  • For Two People:
  • One swordfish steak, about one pound or slightly less
  • for the marinade:
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • For The Salsa Verde:
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup minced parsley
  • 3 T. capers, roughly chopped
  • 3 T. red onion, finely minced
  • ½ of a dill pickle, finely minced (about 2 T.)
  • rind of half a lemon, finely minced
  • optional: lemon balm, finely minced (if you can find it)
  • salt, pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Marinate the swordfish for about a half hour in the soy sauce, olive oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Grill on an outdoor grill, or broil in an oven, being careful not to overcook, or it will be dry.
  3. Using the broiler, it should take no more than three to five minutes on each side.
  4. For the salsa verde, mix all of the ingredients together and serve in a bowl with the grilled swordfish.

Stuffed Mussels and Gratineed Scallops

  • July 29, 2011
So far you’ve heard about the rugged, mountainous part of Abruzzo where I spent part of my vacation. But I also headed further East toward the Adriatic Sea to spend time with my husband’s relatives, including some who live in Vasto Marina, a seaside resort town. One of the unique features of this part of the coastline are the wooden trabocchi you see along the shore. In some cases, these fishing contraptions are 200 years old, but they are constantly being tweaked to repair and replace the timbers  used to construct them – wood that is often taken from the robinia pseudoacacia trees that grow nearby, commonly known as black locust or false acacia.  Fishing nets are secured to long wooden arms and dropped into the sea to hopefully land a good catch.
 At one time, fishing from the trabocchi was the main source of income for many families. Now however, due to overfishing in deeper waters, the huts are used mainly on weekends by families who maintain them as a hobby.
There was no problem finding fish for dinner though, starting with this arrangement I ate as a first course. I can’t even remember everything that was on the plate, but it included an octopus salad, a seafood terrine, anchovies and raw salmon.
Next on tap were some gratineed scallops.
And stuffed mussels.
Couldn’t forget the fried shrimp and squid.
Followed by the piece de resistance – a San Pietro fish. I’m still not sure whether a San Pietro fish is a John Dory or a tilapia, so if someone with more knowledge knows, leave a comment at the end of this post. Whatever it is, it was delicious.
I’d like to thank Antonella, the wife of my husband’s cousin Ottavio, who treated us to this wonderful seafood dinner. Sadly, Ottavio was out of town, but we were also joined by their three young sons, Francesco, Riccardo and Luca – as well as my son Michael, who met up with me for the middle part of my trip.
Back home in Princeton, I tried to recreate two of the dishes – the mussels and the scallops. They may not have tasted exactly the same, but they’re pretty darn close and delicious in their own right – even if there aren’t any trabocchi in Princeton and the only water in sight is the bird bath in the back yard.

 

 

 

Loosen the mussel from the shell and place a small dab of tomato sauce on one side, then top it with the mussel.

 

Place a small bit of the filling on top.

 

 

 

 



Stuffed Mussels

Printable Recipe Here

For two dozen mussels:
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
minced oregano
minced parsley
salt, pepper

white wine
tomato sauce

Place all the ingredients, except the tomato sauce, in a bowl and mix with a fork until blended. It should not be dry but it shouldn’t be soppy wet either.

Bring wine to a boil in a shallow saucepan and place mussels in and cover. Cook only one or two minutes, or until the mussels are open. Remove mussels from the pan and let cool.

Once cool enough to handle, loosen the mussel from the shell. Place a spoonful of tomato sauce on one side of the shell, place the mussel on the sauce, then top with a spoonful of the filling and another dab of tomato sauce. Cover with the other side of the shell, place in an oiled casserole and bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Scallops Gratinee

Use the same filling ingredients as for the mussels, (it should give you enough topping for two small casseroles or scallop shells) but add 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese. Omit the egg if desired. Lightly butter scallop shells or an oven-proof dish and place a couple of scallops inside. Top with the crumbs, then sprinkle on a bit of paprika and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Bake at 425 for about 10 to 15 minutes or until browned.

Fillet of Sole Stuffed With Shrimp

  • April 3, 2009

It’s Spring, it’s Spring. Finally, it’s Spring. OK, it’s drizzly and grey and ugly this morning here in central N.J., but a girl can dream, can’t she?

Daffodils, warmer weather and lighter dinner fare are a few of the things that come to mind when I think of Spring. Not to mention bathing suit season will be here before you know it. So with that horrid thought in mind, it’s time for me to start thinking lighter dinner fare, in particular seafood. While I was cruising the fish department at the supermarket the other day, the sole looked particularly fresh. I bought three pieces that weighed slightly less than 3/4 pound, more than enough for the two of us, especially considering they were stuffed with a shrimp and bread filling.

This would make a good recipe for company too, since it could easily be assembled ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator until ready to bake in the oven. Just adjust the amounts of ingredients according to the number of guests.

Fillet of Sole stuffed with shrimp

3 sole fillets – total weight about 3/4 pound
3 large shrimp
1 shallot
1 T. butter
3 T. roasted red, yellow or green pepper, chopped
a splash of dry white wine
1/2 cup fresh white bread crumbs
salt, pepper
2 T. chopped parsley

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 T. butter
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
paprika

Pat dry the sole fillets and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the butter in a pan and saute the shallot and celery until limp. Add the chopped pepper and shrimp and saute a few more minutes over medium heat. Add the splash of white wine and cook for another minute or so. Take the pan off the heat and add the bread crumbs, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix everything together. It should hold together loosely in a ball. To make the bread crumbs, I trimmed the crusts from three slices of stale Italian bread and put them in the food processor for a couple of minutes. You can use purchased bread crumbs if you prefer, but the texture will be different.
Place a handful of stuffing over the center of the fish fillet.


Roll up both ends over the stuffing.

Place the folded side down in a buttered casserole. Pour the 1/2 cup wine around the rolled-up fillets.
Melt the 1 T. butter in a saucepan and add the panko crumbs. Divide the panko mixture over the fish and sprinkle with paprika. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.