Trout Provencal with Breadcrumbs

Or, trout with some healthy, sunny ingredients at any rate.

I don’t know about you but I don’t buy so much trout. River (or farm, in the majority of cases) fish, don’t seem very popular and I don’t  usually even think of it when trying to squeeze in my two portions  a week. But this week, the organic trout fillets found their destiny in my trolley by way of the reduced counter. I just had to think about what to do with them.

Some people seem to be under the impression that trout can’t carry strong flavours, but after sampling them on this occasion and finding their flavour strong, even slightly earthy, I would suggest something robust to go with it. I was tempted to try a dill or horseradish sauce – another week, maybe – but I had some stuff in the fridge that was really begging to go. To serve 2.

  • 2 trout fillets
  • 1 clove garlic
  • small handful basil leaves
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • half can tomatoes or three large, ripe fresh (only at this time of year)
  • olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • slice of dry white bread, made into breadcrumbs or about 50g ready made breadcrumbs
  • 10g parmesan, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon wedges to serve

In a blender, put in the tomatoes, anchovies, olive oil, basil, garlic and lemon juice. Whizz up. When the sauce is smooth, empty into a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring, until the sauce has started to reduce down slightly and the garlic is cooked out. Leave to cool.

Preheat oven to gas mark 5. Mix the breadcrumbs with the cheese and salt and pepper. Put the trout fillets on an oiled baking tray and dab a few tablespoons of sauce over each fish, spreading evenly to cover. Cover with the breadcrumbs and put in the oven for 10 or so minutes, until the fish is piping hot and the breadcrumbs have browned.

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Creamy, Spicy Sausage Pasta

Comfort food at its best. Not only is this completely delicious, but aside from crumbling a few sausages into a frying pan by hand, there is no work aside from occasional stirring. Within about 15 minutes you have a perfectly lovely heartwarming (and bellywarming) dish and you won’t really even notice you’ve done it. I know it says spicy in the title. Its not hot though, just has a tiny kick to balance the cream. This was inspired by a Nigel Slater dish, once upon a time, but its been so long since I’ve looked at the recipe I can’t honestly say its the same thing anymore. Also, as I don’t weigh or measure anything for this recipe, is fair to say you could tweak a little without anyone really noticing. So, to serve 3 very greedy people:

sausage pasta

  • around 400g good quality pasta – shapes – radioatore, fusilli, or conchiglie. Mine was fusilli.
  • about 500g very best pork sausages. Really the best you can get. This will be rubbish without decent sausages. FREE RANGE pork please.
  • glass of dry white wine
  • small pot of double cream
  • scant tsp of chilli flakes
  • tbsp dijon mustard
  • small handful of basil leaves, torn.

I am assuming that your pasta will be taking 10-12 minutes to cook, so put your pasta on. Put a large frying pan on over a medium heat and just start squeezing the pork out of the sausages into the pan, crumbling it roughly whith your hands as you do. You don’t need to be too precious about this, put be prepared to break up big chunks with a wooden spoon or something. If they’re good sausages, they shouldn’t release too much water, but there likely will be some, so you might want to drain any liquid from the pan as you go if the sausage appears to be steaming rather than browning. When the crumbled sausage is brown in parts, pour in your wine, and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes while you stir the pasta, and probably get yourself another glass of wine, or poke your head round the kitchen door to watch Eastenders. Anyway, after a few minutes of that, stir in your chilli flakes and then your cream. Turn the heat down a touch but not too much and let it bubble away, stirring regularly. Stir in your mustard. I reckon your pasta will be done about now, so, drain it (but don’t drain it until bone dry, a tiny splosh of pasta water is good in any sauce). Chuck the torn basil leaves into the sauce, closely followed by the cooked pasta and give it a very thorough stir. Scoff.

Basic Pesto & Cod with a Pesto Crust

003I understand why people buy their pesto in a jar. I do. I understand that there may be a misapprehension about it taking time or effort, or that the ingredients may be many, varied and costly. I understand some people are just not going to be bothered to make anything like that from scratch. Totally get all that. However, I do make my pesto from scratch for two reasons – I usually already have the ingredients (I have a basil plant on my windowsill, and I just can’t imagine life without garlic, olive oil & parmesan cheese) but the main reason, the real reason is that the result is just a world away from anything you can buy in a jar for almost no effort. And for a quick pasta sauce or a topping for meat and fish, I’m more than happy to spend the 5 2 minutes it takes to whizz it up. I always make mine in a food processor , but you can do it in a pestle and mortar. (WARNING: May take longer than 2 minutes doing it this way!). This will keep in a jar in the fridge for a couple of days, but I would really recommend eating straight away – and for this reason the recipe I’ve given really only serves 2. This version from the Zilli Cookbook.

  • 20-24 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 small cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 25g Parmesan cheese/
  • 15g pine nuts
  • 45ml extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper

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Put the basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts & parmesan in your food processor, and whizz for 20-30 seconds. If you can keep the food processor on while adding the olive oil, do so in a steady stream until its all combined, all well and good. If like me, you can’t, put the olive oil in and whizz again for about 20 seconds. Thats really it.

So when you’ve done that, you might like to try this fish dish. If you don’t really want to make your own pesto, that’s alright( whisper it..), A Jar is Still OK for this. Alternatively, if you live anywhere near a good deli, they might sell it fresh over the counter. This dish goes best with a nice fresh salad, in my opinion.

pesto cod post oven

Serves 2 greedy people:

  • helping of pesto for 2 (see above)
  • 2 cod fillets, roughly 150-200g each
  • 20g butter
  • 30g breadcrumbs
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper.

Preheat the oven to gasmark 6. Melt the butter in a large frying pan, remove from the heat and add breadcrumbs, juice & zest. Don’t overmix, just combine the ingredients. It will look a bit mushy anyway, however that’s alright.  When cool, add the pesto and mix well. Divide and pat the mixture quite firmly onto the fish. Put it in the oven for 10 minutes. Scoff.