Tag Archives: sole

Olive, Lemon, and Herb-Stuffed Sole

5 Jul

Like most people, I find it frustratingly easy to get stuck in a cooking rut.  While I still find appealing the meals I tend to cart out on a regular basis, I do get a bit tired looking at the same presentations.  I could blame this on my child, and the fact that he is not blessed with the most adventurous of palates, but the truth is, my child’s pickiness is only partly to blame.  The rest of the blame lies with all the usual suspects: time (or lack thereof), forgetfulness (I was supposed to buy what at the store?), and, occasionally, laziness (we just spent two hours biking around the city and now I have to make dinner? Watch me as I head to the cupboard that contains all the take out menus).

In order to alleviate this rather common problem of constantly repeating dinners, I have decided that, instead of reverting to the usual meals several times a month, I will instead lay out all my usual dinner suspects, then attempt to mix and match them as I see fit.  Essentially, I can use many of the same ingredients, but I will have to use them in a different fashion, and in a way that deems the meal to be a distant relation of the original meal, but in no way the same animal.  Well, unless, of course, it really is the same animal, as in the case of this stuffed sole.

My inspiration dish is this wonderful and simple panko-crusted sole dinner that is a summer staple for us.  Though I like it a great deal, I have definitely been feeling as though I could stand to see this fish presented in a different way.  Taking cues from the panko and lemon I normally use in the dish, I grabbed an onion, some herbs, and an almost empty jar of Kalamata olives, and, with no real end point in mind, started to fiddle around.  The end result, so varied in texture and flavors, with great zing from the herbs and lemon and a wonderful burst of fruitiness and saltiness from the olives, was a delight.  Though I am sure that most of my meal reformations will not go as smoothly as this one, I can at least squeeze a bit of comfort out of knowing that my experiment is not one of total lunacy.  I managed to make at least one standard meal into something new and appealing, which, if nothing else, managed to feed not only us, but also my creative confidence.

Last Year: Rhubarb Bread Pudding

Olive, Lemon, and Herb-Stuffed Sole Recipe

1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds thin sole filets

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup finely diced onion

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

¼ cup finely chopped Kalamata olives

¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

1 small lemon, zested and then sliced into thin rounds

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly oil a small baking dish and set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add onions, reduce heat to low, and sauté gently for about 10 minutes, until onions are soft and just starting to turn golden at the edges.  Turn off the heat under the pan, and stir in panko bread crumbs, olives, pine nuts, mint, Italian parsley, and lemon zest.  Stir to combine thoroughly, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Season sole filets with salt and pepper.  Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of panko mixture on one end of a filet, then carefully roll up the filet, encasing the mixture inside.  It is all right if some of the filling escapes, as it inevitably will.  Place the rolled filet in the prepared baking dish.  Continue filling all the filets in this manner, placing each one in the baking dish.  When all the filets have been filled and rolled, place a slice of lemon on top of each roll, then sprinkle the remaining panko mixture on top of and around the rolled filets.

Bake the fish in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the fish is opaque and the middles of each roll have warmed through.  The panko on top of the fish should just be starting to turn golden.

Serves 4.

Panko-Crusted Sole, a Dinner in 20 Minutes

17 Oct

Even though I work from home, there are still days when I find it inexplicably difficult to get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour.  Of course, you must realize that, having a child who wakes up at negative zero o’clock in the morning, we also have a child who must go to bed quite early in the evening, which means that our reasonable dinner time tends to occur at an hour when the only other people even considering a meal happen to be 80 years-old or, well, babies.

We are not, as you might have guessed, frozen pizza sort of people (and if you are a frozen pizza sort of person, please know that I hold no judgment against you), so when I need to get a meal on the table fast, I tend to look towards foods that are, on a basic level, fast cookers.  Sole, delicate as it is, falls wonderfully into this category.

You may think that because this meal appears to use a great deal of dishes that means it is complicated or fussy.  Not the case.  The majority of the dishes used are plain old dinner plates, which can be rinsed off and dried in seconds flat, or, even easier, simply thrown in the dishwasher.  There is no real measuring involved, and no special tools.  The fish cooks in one pan, and it cooks for quite literally just a minute on each side until it is done.  Cooking frozen fish sticks in an oven takes longer to prepare than this meal, and I guarantee you these sole fillets are about a thousand time better than any frozen fish stick you’ll ever meet.

Most convenient of all, however, is the fact that both kids and adults love this meal.  A crispy fillet of panko-crusted sole, slices of avocado, and carrot sticks is a well-appreciated meal for the 5-and-under set.  For a more adult-centric presentation, I place the sole fillets on a pile of greens, slice up some tomatoes and avocados, then drizzle on a simple vinaigrette (one part balsamic vinegar to two parts olive oil, whisked with a fork until thick and then seasoned with salt and pepper).  We’re sitting at the table in twenty minutes, tops.  The food, fresh and crunchy, disappears even faster.

Panko-Crusted Sole

1 pound thin sole fillets

roughly 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

about 2 cups panko bread crumbs

salt and pepper

olive oil

Set three large dinner plates in a row.  Put the flour on the first plate, and season the flour with a generous amount of salt and pepper.  On the second plate, beat the eggs, and put half of the panko on the third plate.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat (I use a cast iron skillet, but nonstick would also work).  Coat the pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (slightly more if you are using a very big pan) and heat until it is almost shimmering.  Take a sole fillet, lightly dip it on both sides in the plate of flour, shake off any excess flour, then wet both sides of the fillet in the beaten egg.  Dip both sides of the fillet in the panko, then place the coated filet in the hot pan.  The oil should be hot enough that your sole sizzles when it hits the pan, but you should not see any plumes of smoke.  Repeat with another fillet.  Depending on the size of your pan, you should be able to cook in batches of 2 or 3 fillets at once.  Cook each fillet for 1 minute on each side.  Sole is very delicate and thin, so it needs to cook for hardly any time at all until it is done.  Heat up one tablespoon more oil in between each batch.

If your cooking pan is littered with a lot of panko crumbs, wipe it out with a paper towel in between cooking each batch of fish, before you add more olive oil.  When you have used up most of the panko on the third plate, add the remainder of the panko to the plate and proceed (adding all the panko at once can sometimes cause it to clump after repeated fillet dippings).

When each sole fillet is done cooking, place it on a wire rack until you are ready to serve.

Serve sole with sliced vegetables, or on top of a salad, with lemon wedges for squeezing.

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