I’ve been very busy of late with a lot of my time in the kitchen being devoted to making phyllo pastry by hand and selling these creations to many here in Toronto. Often times I’ve found myself without an iota of an idea about what to have for dinner and that has to change. I don’t like to eat on the fly and you can be sure some thought will be taken for some quality menu planning.
This past week I took some of the chopped spinach that was left from making a Spanakopita filling and reserved it for dinner. Dinner was going to be flounder fillets stuffed and roll with spinach. Frozen spinach is a wonderful convenience product, it’s affordable, comes in small packages and easy to handle: thaw, squeeze excess water and chop (if necessary). I sweated some scallions and added some chopped fresh fennel fronds – this mild anise flavour goes well with fish.
The braised lentils were an inspiration from Chef Emily Watkins who served seared duck breast with them. I’ve done braised lentils before and mine are a little different but Watkins did give me the nudge. Fish and spinach with herbs, baked and served on a bed of braised lentils? Healthy, healthy, delicious, delicious!
4 flounder fillets (or other white fish)
1 lb. pkge. of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
3-4 scallions, sliced
2-3 Tbsp. of chopped fennel fronds (or tarragon)
extra-virgin olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. sweet paprika
fine sea salt & fresh ground pepper
chopped fresh parsley, lemon zest and wedges of lemon
Pre-heated 400F oven
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup of dried green lentils, well rinsed
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup finely diced carrot
1/4 cup finely diced celery
2 bay leaves
5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
approx. 2-3 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
red wine vinegar to taste
- Place a medium pot on your stove-top over medium heat and add the olive oil, onions, carrots, celery, bay and thyme and sweat while occasionally stirring for about 5 minutes. Now add the lentils, some salt and pepper and stir for a couple of minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. Now add enough stock to just cover the lentils and simmer uncovered and stir occasionally. Add more stock as needed and continue to simmer while stirring until the lentils are just soft. Remove from the heat, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and add red wine vinegar to taste (remove thyme sprigs and bay).
- Pre-heat your oven to 400F, middle rack. In a small skillet, add some olive oil and the scallions and sweat for about 3-4 minutes then take off the heat and allow to cool. Mix the scallions with your thawed chopped spinach and add the chopped fennel fronds and salt and pepper to taste.
- Rinse your fillets and pat-dry. Drizzle both sides of the fillets with olive oil and sprinkle lemon zest on both sides of the fish, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the sweet paprika. To ensure your fish fillets do not unravel when baking, you’re going to place the stuffing on top part of the fillet (the side where the skin would have been, its smooth). Place the spinach on each fillet and roll up starting from the widest end and your roll will end-up at the tail. Use a toothpick to secure each roll and place in a baking tray.
- Drizzle with some olive oil and place in your pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and place a ladle of lentils on to each plate and using a spatula, carefully lift and place a fish portion on top. Mix the lemon zest and chopped parsley and sprinkle on top of each fish, spoon some pan juices along with some drops of olive oil and a wedge of lemon. Serve with a Domaine Tselepos Mantinia, 100% Moschofilero.
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