I've been talking about poaching a piece of fish for the past week, and somewhat painstakingly going about it. By that I mean I've been thinking about the fish, what sort to buy, how I would flavor the olive oil and what would accompany the fish. I've seen it done on television, and then on Wednesday, at a fancy lunch, I had a piece of olive oil poached cod; I thought, I can definitely do this, so I went for it.
And all went as planned...I settled on salmon, as it looked great the day I was at the fish store; I decided to flavor the oil with a bit of rosemary, so I took a sprig from my potted rosemary plant; and finally, I found a recipe for broccoli rabe pesto that had a twist, something I've made in the past but not this way, so I decided to make it. And everything was fine until I put the thermometer in the oil to check the temperature and it broke right in from of my very eyes (and ears, with a delicate little "pop.") So now what?
After getting over the fact that I lost almost a half bottle of olive oil, I decided to bake the fish in the oven. I prefer this way as it's less messy than pan searing it, though I do like the sear so I finished it in a pan at the last minute. And though it wasn't poached, it was quite good, so here's how I did it:
For the pesto:
~1 bunch of broccoli rabe, stems removed
~2 cloves garlic
~1/4 cup blanched almonds
~pinch of hot pepper flakes
~1 tablespoon honey (this is the addition, courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis)
~1/2 cup olive oil
~1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
~salt and pepper to taste
Cook the rabe in a large pot of salted boiling water for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking. Squeeze out all the excess water from the rabe and add it to the food processor, along with the garlic, pepper flakes and almonds. Pulse until smooth and then drizzle in the oil, while the food processor is running. Add the honey, Parmesan, salt and pepper, stir and set aside.
For the salmon:
~Salt and pepper the fish and place either on a baking sheet or in a baking dish
~Bake on 450 for about 9 minutes, then take it out and sear it in a pan to get that nice color on it, about 45 seconds on each side. Be careful not to overcook; your fish should be tender.
~Place the fish over the pesto and enjoy.
For a side, I made farro, one of my favorites.
~In a small bowl, combine a fourth of a zucchini, diced, and 5-8 diced grape tomatoes (or whatever tomato you have on hand).
~Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, a few leaves of basil (cut) and salt and pepper. Set aside.
~Follow the directions on the farro package and when done, mix with the zucchini and tomatoes. Don't overcook your farro! It should be nutty and slightly al dente.
What I like about this kind of recipe is that it's versatile. I could have used almost any kind of fish, and I could have used any number of vegetables for the farro. Experiment and use what you like. And remember to use the leftover pesto for any number of things -- tossed with penne or on toast with an egg on top. Buon appetito!
My history geek moment: In the Middle Ages, kings weren't the only ones who had their own olive groves; monasteries grew olives as well, and it was quite lucrative!