a healthy fish dinner…FAST.
Sometimes when I’ve had a long exhausting workday, it feels all to easy to just reach for my trusty refridgerator magnets…ultimately leading me down a path towards a big, cheesy pizza. I love pizza – don’t get me wrong – but I’m making a concerted effort to cook healthier more frequently…which means coming up with faster recipes that after a long day will entice me back into my own kitchen with the promise of – not instant, but speedy gratification.
My recipe below is for a super-quick and super-healthy weeknight meal of perfectly flaky white fish, served over tender beans & garlicky kale. (I used flounder for this one, but you could also use tilapia, sole or even thin fillets of hake). Start to finish, the fish takes less than 10 minutes to prepare. The beans take more like 30 minutes (I start with dry beans), but if you wanted to cut down on that time too I don’t see why you couldn’t sub-in some canned small white beans instead. Just make sure you rinse them really well first.
I have to mention here that the success of the entire recipe hinges on a single, crucial ingredient – which is very high quality tomato sauce. I’m sorry guys, but Prego or Ragu won’t cut it here…you have to splurge and buy the good stuff. Rao’s, shown below, is my absolute favorite. Other good options include Monte Bene or Scarpetta - both great brands. Essentially, the fish is poached in the sauce and then finished under the broiler. The only other ingredients for the fish are garlic salt, paprika, and a small pad of butter (there isn’t much else to it…hence why the sauce has to be top notch).
POACHED BROILED FISH OVER BLACK EYED PEAS & KALE
1/2lb (half the bag) dry black eyed peas | 3-4 c water | vegetable stock | 5 cloves garlic, chopped | 4-5 large leaves kale, chopped & ribs removed | 1 & 1/2 c good tomato sauce | spices: garlic salt, paprika, pepper
Begin by rinsing the beans clean in a strainer. Add to pot cold and boil in the 4c water for 20 minutes. If liquid reduced too much, add a splash of the vegetable stock. After 20 minutes, reduce heat to a simmer. Skim off & discard any grey residue that has collected on the water’s surface from the beans. Add the chopped garlic & 1/2c tomato sauce to the beans and stir. Continue to let the beans simmer and soften. You want the liquid to become “saucy,” so keep adding vegetable stock as the water cooks off. After another 10-15 minutes, add the kale and stir. Season with salt and pepper, lid the pot and set to low while you cook the fish.
Start by pouring enough sauce (the remaining cup) into a skillet to coat the bottom of the pan. On high, wait for the sauce to begin bubbling around the edges. Once that happens, lay your fresh fish fillets right on top of the sauce and nestle them in, using a spatula or tongs. Allow the fish to cook for just a minute or two, until the fish begins to turn opaque and white along the edges.
At this point, lightly sprinkle the fish with garlic salt and paprika. Then place a small pad of butter on top of each fillet. Set broiler to high. Place the pan in the oven on the top rack, directly under the flame or element. (Stay close & don’t walk away!) The butter will melt over the fish and sizzle, browning ever-so-slightly to form a thin, golden crust. After just a minute or two, the fish is done.
Stir the bean mixture, adjusting with seasonings as needed. Serve with the beans mounded in the center of the plate, with a fish fillet on top.