Every summer I bemoan the lack of grilling at my home kitchen. The month of May, food media drum up the excitement of summer with special features on grilling and I can only sigh in envy. That continues until the frenzy of Thanksgiving takes our attention from grilling to roasting. Luckily, with my current emphasis on eating fish, I discover that some grilling recipes adapt beautifully to a quick broil in the oven. This was exactly what I enjoyed last night for dinner.
I love it when my Sunday supper comes together like jigsaw pieces falling into place. First, there was a basket of sweet bell peppers I picked up at the farmers market. A lone eggplant and half of a red onion begged to be used too. This led me to the Marinated Pepper and Eggplant recipe in Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers At Lucques. This cookbook organizes recipes by seasonal menus and the recipe is paired with California Sea Bass Kabobs with Charmoula. Coincidentally, swordfish was on sale at my favourite fishmonger. Both fish are firm flesh and meaty so taking advantage of the sale made a lot of sense. The only caveat? The recipe was written for the grill. I would need to adapt accordingly.
Nicer-With-A-Grill Fish Dinner
Once all the ingredients were assembled, I quickly started with the charmoula (get the recipe at epicurious). Charmoula is a North African condiment packed with herbs and spices. I followed the ingredients in Goin’s recipe and threw them all inside the food processor. Parsley, cilantro, cumin, garlic, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, Aleppo pepper, and smoked salt formed a thick paste. Notice all the anti-inflammatory ingredients? I did a little happy dance. Half of the paste was thinned with olive oil and marinated the swordfish pieces. The other half was blended with olive oil, lemon juice, and brown rice vinegar to make a boldly flavoured finishing sauce.
Next I set about roasting the sweet bell peppers. The recipe served mostly as a guideline as this point. The mix of red, orange, and yellow was eye-catching and roasting intensified the sweetness. Not a drop of juice was lost! I pan fried the thin slices of eggplant until golden. Under normal circumstances, I would continue with the rest of the recipe. But I was lazy and didn’t want to wash more pans than necessary. So I switched gears and used the relatively clean frying pan to roast some asparagus spears.
I took inspiration from Giada De Laurentiis’ Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Bundles recipe. Rather than oven roasting the asparagus, I cooked them briefly on the stove top with a bit of olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. I’m certain the hint of smokiness from grilling would benefit but I make do with what I have. The cooked asparagus was left to cool while I finished off the marinated pepper and eggplant.
I sautéed red onion, yellow onion, thyme, and garlic until softened. The roasted peppers were added and allowed to slightly caramelize. The pan was deglazed with red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. The whole lot marinated together to develop a sweet and tart flavour. The dish was simple yet the cooking brought out the best sides of all the ingredients. I could totally eat bowls and bowls of it.
The last steps of the menu came together in blink of the eye. I wrapped spears of asparagus with thin pieces of smoked salmon to have a platter of bundles. I let the charmoula sauce come to room temperature. I set the oven to low broil and set a rack inches away from the flame. The marinated swordfish pieces were strung into kabobs and placed on greased foil on baking sheet. I broiled them 2 1/2 minutes on each side and dinner was ready!
With this menu, I fall in love with Suzanne Goin’s cookbook all over again. Ingredient-driven cooking may sound cliché but good food never goes out of style. When the cooking is guided by an experienced chef who respects and appreciates nature’s bounty, I know that my dinner is in good hands.