Roasted Red Fish with Piperade and Mardi Gras Salad
People think that paleo food is expensive. It can be, but doesn’t have to be. Case in point: the fabulous red fish featured in this post was a gift. Thank you, Bruce!! His love of fishing and an abundance of fish in his freezer meant we got to have free fish. And not just red fish. There was a package of speckled trout and several of snapper, too. Around south Louisiana hunting, fishing and sharing are just three of the ways that people here “pass a good time” cher. We’re fortunate to have a diverse array of watery climes where fin fish and shellfish abound. For the price of a package of chicken necks, the normally luxurious crab can be feasted on for pennies. And whether you’re inland or on the coast, great fishing is available throughout the U.S. Here’s a recipe that will make your catch a delicious and easy-to-make meal.
Often fish is tricky to cook. It’s delicate and can break easily. Overcooking is a hazard. But this recipe is just about foolproof. The gentle heat of the oven and the juicy, flavorful topping called piperade, make timing flexible and fast. You can make endless variations on piperade depending on the flavors you prefer and the vegetables that are in season (which usually means cheaper, too). And you can take those beautiful filets out of the freezer and create a dish that tastes as fresh as the day it left the water. For some reason, fish caught, fileted and frozen by a fisherman is infinitely fresher tasting than something from the supermarket—even an upscale market. Make friends with a generous fisherman. Or better yet: go fishing yourself!
To accompany the fish, I’m sharing a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. I’ve had the great pleasure of serving as a recipe tester for CI for several years. This recipe appears in their most recent make-ahead cookbook, and it’s winner. They call it Overnight Sweet Potato Kale Salad, but the colors purple, green and gold scream Mardi Gras, so even though it’s jumping the season, that’s what I’m calling it.
There are very few overnight vegetable-only salads. By the time the dressing sinks in, most salads are wilted and taste bad. So Cook’s Illustrated decided to come up with a recipe that would be as great in your lunch at work as it was for dinner a few nights before. I’ve made a few changes. Recently in another sweet potato recipe, CI discovered that starting peeled, thickly sliced sweet potatoes in a cold oven brought out sweetness in the veg that normally doesn’t have a chance to develop. So I skipped the original directions and used this technique. There’s a scientific reason why this happens, but suffice it to say, it’s a winning idea. The dressing used pomegranate molasses. This ingredient is hard to find and is loaded with sugar. You can boil down some pomegranate juice until it’s syrupy and add a bit more honey, if you like, or you can do what I did for this version and use balsamic vinegar.
Like virtually all of the recipes in my collection, this is very affordable. But it’s also festive, healthy and delicious. I do hope you enjoy it and this week’s playlist as well!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot minced
- 1/2 medium green pepper minced
- 10-12 cherry tomaoes minced
- 1 1/2 lbs fish filets red fish, snapper, tilapia, speckled trout, mahi mahi, haddock, flounder, perch
- salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium sauce pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add shallots and sauté for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add peppers and sauté 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and sauté 2 minutes. Remove from heat
Drizzle remaining olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and spread evenly over the bottom with a brush or your fingers. Lay fish filets on the baking sheet. Do not overlap. Spoon sautéd vegetables over the filets. Allow portions of the filets to show through. Roast for 10 minutes and check for doneness. Fish should be completely opaque and easily separate into sections. Continue to roast, if needed, checking every 4-5 minutes for doneness. Serve with lemon wedges.
- 1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes peeled and sliced into 3/4-inch slices
- 1/3 cup olive oil plus 1 tbsp
- salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 shallot minced
- 12 oz kale stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch ribbons
- 1/2 head radicchio about 5 oz., cored and thinly sliced, you can substitute red cabbage
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds optional
Drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and toss sweet potatoes in the oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil and place in unheated oven. Turn the oven to 425 degrees F. Roast for 20 minutes. Check to see that potatoes are tender by inserting the tip of a paring knife into the slices. If needed, roast for another 5 minutes and check again. Remove from the oven, place potatoes in a large bowl and set aside to cool, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile whisk together the balsamic vinegar, honey and olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.
Vigorously knead the raw kale on a cutting board with hands until uniformly dark green and wilted, about 5 minutes. Add to bowl with sweet potatoes. Add radicchio and 2/3 of the dressing. Toss and refrigerate for 24 hours. (It's also quite good when freshly made.) Cover remaining vinaigrette and refrigerate.
When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes; add remaining vinaigrette, toss, and top with pecans and pomegranate seeds (if using).