Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pan-grilled Halibut with Spinach and Raisins and Pine Nuts

A delicious combination of flavors.  You need a firm white fish for this dish.  I splurged on wild caught halibut.  The boiled potatoes and spinach with raisins and pine nuts paired well with the fish's delicate garlic chili dressing.

Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts
(Espinacas con Pasas y Pinones)
(adapted from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden)

Serves 4

1.5 pounds spinach (I used a 16 oz. bag of flash frozen spinach)
2 T. pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T. raisins, soaked in water for 20 minutes and drained (mine were fresh so I didn't soak them)
Salt and Pepper

Defrost the spinach if you are using frozen, and drain off any extra liquid.  If using fresh spinach, wash thoroughly and remove any thick stems -- or if using baby spinach, don't bother with removing the stems.

If using fresh spinach, cook it down in a large pot, by covering it and cooking on high.  The water remaining on the leaves from washing it will be enough.  Lower the heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until it is completely wilted.

If using prewashed spinach, add about 1/4 cup water (to create some steam) before cooking the spinach down.  The beauty of the frozen, drained spinach is you can skip this step and go right to sauteing.

In a large skillet, add the olive oil on medium high, then saute the pine nuts, just until they start to brown --- watch them carefully!  --  add the raisins and then the spinach, and mix well.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook on medium, for about 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Pan-Grilled Fish with Garlic and Chili Dressing
(Pescado a la bilbaina - Basque country)
(adapted from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden)

Serves 2

2 thick fillets (6 to 7 ounces), skin left on,
monkfish, hake, bream or other firm-fleshed fish (I used halibut)
4 to 5 T. extra virgin olive oil (2 for pan grilling, and 3 for the dressing)
5 large garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 to 1 small dried or fresh chile pepper, seeds removed, finely chopped (I used dried flakes)
2 to 3 t. white wine vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
1 T. chopped flat leaf parsley (I used lots)

Season the fish with salt.  Grease a large heavy skillet or plancha (a flat griddle) with 1 to 2 T. of oil and heat just below the smoking point.  Place the fillets skin side down and cook over medium heat.

The fillets will gradually cook through, but may need to be turned over for the last 2 to 3 minutes. This can take up to 15 minutes.  Watch to see the fish fillets turn opaque and you will know when they are done.
Meanwhile for the dressing, very gently heat the remaining oil with the garlic and the pepper flakes in a small pan until the garlic is very, very soft but not browned at all.  (Do not let it brown,)
Take it off the heat and add the vinegar and the parsley.

Serve the fish hot from the pan with the dressing poured over it.

Note from B:  I should have cooked dressing longer, and used fresher garlic (or removed the green inner layer) which would have made for a more delicate dressing.


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