I know. I know. Orgasmic food? But I am telling you people, click on that photo and you will see one of the greatest meals of my life. A simple blend of seafood tossed with pasta and some veggies sauteed in oil, basil and salt. Of course it helped that the fish was fresh and local (pricey but worth it for a special meal). And the veggies too were of good quality, bought at Donald’s on Nanaimo (we had gone that way to shop for Daytons and purchase the seafood at the Wheelhouse). Starting with good ingredients at least gives you a fighting chance at having an enjoyable food experience.
It’s been awhile since I posted a recipe here, mostly because I’ve traveled too often to cook properly in the last year or so – but since I am home for the summer and have a lovely partner to plan and make meals with I have become re-inspired in the kitchen and so will share here the meal above (from Saturday) and it’s follow-up with leftovers on Sunday night. They are only casually linked, so you don’t have to make one to make the other. The risotto can be made with pretty much any veggies so long as they are still good to eat.
The Saturday night erotic dinner encounter
8 Bay Scallops
1/2 pound of cod (or another white, firm fish)
1 cup dry farfalle pasta cooked
Garlic (3 minced cloves)
White wine for cooking
fresh basil (3 or 4 leaves)
fresh chives (a handful)
grated romano cheese (to top the dish)
Putting this together is really very simple. Make sure the fish is all cut to around the same size because it will be cooked together. Sautee the minced garlic and shallots in lots of olive oil, a little salt and throw in a little dried herb (oregano, basil, whatever you like). When the garlic and shallots are nicely cooked, splash a little white wine in the pan and let it evaporate before adding more oil, and the cut up fish/scallops/prawns. Splash the cooking fish with more wine, the juice of a whole lemon and a little salt before putting the lid on the sautee pan for a couple of minutes. There will be about an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pan at this point – all wine and oil. Don’t leave this too long or the fish will fall apart – it only takes about 5 minutes to cook the whole thing. When the cooking is done, squeeze another whole lemon on the top and add the cooked farfalle to the skillet (I use a heavy cast-iron frying pan for most things). Stir it up until everything is mixed well.
Using a slotted spon, dish onto two plates, top with sliced fresh basil, chives and about a half an ounce of grated romano per meal. You will note that this is mostly seafood and only a little pasta which is the way it should be. A very generous meal for two people, it could easily be for three with the addition of a little more pasta.
On the side we satueed a red pepper, 8 shitake mushrooms and 12 asparagus spears. This was a very simple procedure, the only thing I would note is making sure to sautee the veggies in order of how long they take to cook (the order I have listed them in above) or you will end up with hard peppers and mushy asparagus. Personally I like veggies on the firm side, so not too much cooking is required and can be done alongside the seafood. Again, for two people this is generous – but even though you will have a full plate of food, you won’t want to stop eating – it is as close to an erotic encounter as I have ever had sharing a meal with someone. (Apparently my oohing and aahing during dinner was a bit of a turn-on in combination with the decadence that was the food).
At the end of the meal I had some fish/wine stock left in the bottom of the pan which I didn’t want to waste so I put it in the fridge overnight (about a cup’s worth). There was also some leftover shitake, asparagus and grated romano. As Sunday is my regular grocery day, I took quick account in the morning of what was in there to aid my provisioning for the week and found a few sad veggies in the crisper in need of eating. From that combination and a few impromptu additions, I made a simple risotto-type dish over spinach which was a close second to the previous night’s feast:
Sunday night eating alone because Brian’s leaving for New York Risotto
1 cup Arborio rice (uncooked)
4 (or more) cups of stock or water. In my case I used 1 cup of the fish stock from the night before and water.
4 garlic cloves, diced
fresh basil leaves (4)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 small orange pepper, chopped
6 shitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 block extra firm tofu diced into small cubes
1 small tomato, diced
12 asparagus spears, chopped
romano cheese, shredded
Now I’m not sure if what I make can properly be called risotto because I’ve never learned how and I’m sure my dish would make a proper chef cringe. But whatever. It’s really yummy and I often make variants of it with whatever veggies I have at hand. If you have never made risotto you should probably know that it requires constant attention once you start cooking, so do all your prep at the outset and you won’t stress yourself out with stuff sticking to the bottom of the pan later.
Put some olive oil in a pot on medium-low heat and once warmed add the shallots and garlic. Stir that around until it’s nice and cooked, splashing a bit of balsamic vinegar in when things are looking a little dry. More oil, fresh basil, peppers and arborio rice go in now. Stir the dry rice around for a minute or two with the peppers to get it nice and toasty before adding the shitakes and then the first cup of stock (or water). Let that stock come to a boil and keep stirring while the thirsty rice sucks it up. Once your pot is getting low on liquid, add another cup of stock and keep stirring – and then repeat that with another cup, each time allowing the rice to absorb most of the liquid before adding more. At about the 3/4s cooked point (rice will still be a little crunchy) throw in the tofu and the tomato and stir some more. Add more water around now and keep stirring, making sure that the risotto isn’t sticking to the bottom (which it shouldn’t be if you have kept the heat medium-low throughout). Right at the end, add the asparagus and stir it in the hot rice and veggies until it is slightly softened.
Because I had left over spinach from an earlier dinner this week (spinach, grapefruit, red onion and avocado salad – thanks Brian!) I served my risotto over top of a cup of that and topped it with the grated romano cheese. This recipe easily feeds three or even four depending what else you serve it with – though I always think of risotto as a complete meal needing little else. In one pot you’ve got the starch, the protein and the veggies…. some fresh cut peppers on the side is always a nice touch though too.
But for the love of fabulous food I promise you will never be sorry if you make these meals with your loved one or friends. From start to finish Saturday’s dinner took 20 minutes to make, with Sunday’s weighing in at a hefty 40 minutes because it takes awhile to cook. Now I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow (and the next day) plus I get to start fresh with all new ingredients bought on the Drive this afternoon.