For a healthier take on dinner, this sophisticated fish dish is a cinch to make.You roast a large fish fillet on a bed of shaved fennel and red onion, and then top them with capers that get crispy as they bake. For a quick, delicious sauce, you just whisk together some caper juice and olive oil and drizzle it on the warm fish, says chef Rozanne Gold, who created this and the following recipes for Real Food. To round out the meal, try the side of vegetables with an unexpected buttery zucchini sauce and the Potato Purée with Shallots and Fresh Herbs.
Fennel-Roasted Fish Fillet with Tiny Tomatoes and Crispy Capers
Makes 6 servings
1 medium fennel bulb
1 medium red onion
21⁄2 pound fillet of striped bass or halibut
2 tablespoons capers plus 1 tablespoon caper juice
20 grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1⁄2 cup olive oil
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Remove fronds from fennel and set them aside. Cut fennel bulb in half lengthwise.
3. Place cut-side down on a cutting board and slice crosswise into paper-thin slices. Scatter in center of baking sheet along the length of the sheet.
4. Peel red onion and cut in half through root end. Put cut-side down on a cutting board and slice as thin as possible. Scatter over fennel.
5. Season fish well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place fish on fennel and onions in center of baking sheet. Arrange halved tomatoes around fish. Pour 1⁄4 cup of the olive oil over fish and tomatoes. Scatter capers on top of fish. Roast 30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, whisk together remaining 1⁄4 cup olive oil and 1 tablespoon caper juice. Stir garlic into mixture. Finely chop 1⁄3 cup fennel fronds. Add 1 tablespoon chopped fronds to dressing.
7. When fish is cooked, remove from oven. Divide fish into 6 portions and transfer fish and vegetables onto 6 large plates. Drizzle with dressing and scatter remaining chopped fennel fronds on top.
Spring Vegetables à la Vapeur
Makes 6 servings
Here’s a dish that epitomizes spring.Three verdant vegetables get steamed together and one is turned into a delicious sauce the color of jade.The sauce tastes buttery all by itself but becomes even more luxurious with bits of cold butter whisked in.
3⁄4 pound fresh snow peas
3⁄4 pound string beans
3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1. Remove tails from snow peas. Trim ends of green beans. Using a small sharp knife, cut beans in half lengthwise. Cut 2 zucchini into 1⁄3-inch cubes. Set vegetables aside.
2. Cut remaining zucchini into 1-inch pieces and place in a small saucepan. Cover with water and add 1⁄4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook for 15 minutes, until zucchini is very soft.
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked zucchini to the bowl of a food processor, reserving cooking water. Process until smooth and creamy, adding enough reserved water to yield about 2⁄3 cup sauce. Cut butter into slices and add to sauce. Process briefly and transfer to a small saucepan.
4. Bring a large pot of water, fitted with a steamer basket, to a boil. Place snow peas and string beans in the basket. Place zucchini cubes on top. Cover and steam for 7 minutes.
5. When cooked, lightly salt vegetables and transfer to a serving dish. Cover with warm zucchini sauce. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Potato Purée with Shallots and Fresh Herbs
Makes 6 servings
You may never make ordinary mashed potatoes again! In this dreamy potato purée, shallots soften in a bath of cream and fresh herbs and impart an intriguing, sweet flavor to whipped potatoes. Contrary to conventional thinking, baking potatoes provide the best texture for mashing and whipping. This can be made a day ahead and gently rewarmed.
23⁄4 pounds small baking potatoes
6 ounces large shallots
3⁄4 cup heavy cream
3⁄4 cup milk
3 large sprigs fresh tarragon
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1. Scrub potatoes and place in a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cook until potatoes are very soft, about 45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, peel shallots and chop very fine. Put them in a small saucepan with heavy cream, tarragon, and thyme. Add large pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low and cover pan. Cook 10 minutes until shallots are very soft. Remove herbs. Let sit.
3. When potatoes are tender, transfer them to a colander. Peel them and cut into large pieces. Place in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix briefly. Add cooked shallots and cream. Mix briefly until smooth. Add milk and mix until creamy. Transfer to a large saucepan and add salt and pepper to taste. Heat gently and serve.