While I was in Tuscany I fell in love with Mediterranean cuisine. Light, fresh and delicious, this is the kind of food I never get tired of, and it doesn’t leave me feeling lethargic. Olives, artichoke hearts, fish, tomatoes, lemon and of course extra virgin olive oil are among my favorite Mediterranean ingredients. Despite the fact that I used frozen fish, this dish took me right back to the Tuscan coast. The pasta I used was from a co-op in Lucca and is only sold Italy, so that also made this meal feel extra-special and nostalgic. Although wild mushrooms are not a typical component of this cuisine, I think they make everything better so I loaded my plate with these gems. White fish such as flounder and sole are usually pretty cheap and I have found that the preparation below is the easiest and most delicious way to enjoy mild white fish. Make sure your filets are very thin (about ¼ inch), otherwise, butterfly them. Next time you see wild, sustainable white fish on sale, pull out this recipe and give it a shot.
Pasta with Crispy Sole, Roasted Mushrooms, and Spinach (serves 2)
4 small sole filets
¼ c flour (I use oat flour)
1 large egg, beaten
½ tsp salt
Few grinds black pepper
3 c baby spinach
2 portabello mushrooms, stemmed
4 cloves garlic
Handful fresh herbs
Plenty of extra virgin olive oil
3 oz. shiitake mushrooms, halved if large
Juice of 1 lemon
A few artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
4 oz. dried pasta
Toss portabellas in olive oil. Cut 3 cloves of garlic in half. Toss both in olive oil, throw in some fresh thyme, season generously and roast in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and start to crisp around edges. In my opinion, the longer, the better. Then dice them into small pieces.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and toss in olive oil. Mince remaining 3 cloves garlic. Combine flour, salt, and pepper. Coat fish in flour, making sure to tap off excess. Then evenly coat each filet in beaten egg. In a large sauté pan over medium-high, heat enough sunflower oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once it’s hot, add the fish. After a few seconds, shake the pan to prevent fish from sticking. After a minute or so, flip the fish and turn off the flame. Add a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan. In another sauté pan, heat olive oil until very hot. Add shiitake mushrooms. Sauté a few minutes, until they have a nice dark brown color. Then add pasta, garlic, roasted mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and some wine. Turn heat to low and stir in spinach until slightly wilted. Add lemon juice, a few splashes of olive oil, and some tarragon or chives. Divide pasta and veggie mixture between two plates and top each with two fish filets. Serve with more lemon if desired. Try this dish with roasted grape or cherry tomatoes if they are in season.