Often times people tell me that they are amazed at the fancy dinners that I make even during the week. But really, the things that I pick to make on weeknights are the simple and quick recipes. A lot of them, like this meal, can be on the table in 1/2 hour. All you need to do is look at your entire meal, and then dissect it; what takes the longest? Start that first. What can you do while something else is cooking on its own? And as always, I enlist the help of any one of my sous chefs who are willing to chop an onion, or fetch something out of the fridge. In my case, it’s the husband, or the rents – anyone who’s passing through the kitchen.
I had Creg pick up some sole fillets, and asked for something green. I was thinking Swiss chard, but he came home with some nice looking asparagus instead. He loves asparagus, and it has the added benefit of being one of the few green things that Father will eat. The first thing we did was to turn on the oven for the asparagus (about 400 to 450 is what I usually do for roasting). Then we got the rice going. Just plain white rice. For some extra depth, cook it in chicken stock. If you’re using plain water, make sure to salt it well. My trusty $20 hardware store rice cooker is perfect for this. Just dump everything in, turn it on, and ignore it for 20 minutes.
Next we prepped the asparagus. Again, very simple. Wash and dry the asparagus, put them in a sheet pan, drizzle with some EVOO, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and the toss around till it’s all well coated. Into the oven they go, and then stir them after about 10 minutes. They will take about 15 – 20 minutes total, depending on how thick they are, and how cooked you like them.
Once the asparagus is in the oven, we moved on to the fish. I used to be intimidated by fish, but once I made it a few times I realized how quick and easy most fish is. Sometimes we do just a simple grilling with salt & pepper, but tonight I wanted to get a little “fancier”, so I went for Sole Meuniere. Basically sole with butter and lemon. Remember to check your fish for bones if your fish guy hasn’t removed them for you. With sole, there is generally a small amount of bones running down the middle of the fillet, about an inch or two down from the wide end. You can easily find this by running your finger down the middle, and then just cut it out with a knife. A little salt & pepper on both sides, then dredge in some flour. A lot of recipes have you season the flour, but I think seasoning the fish (or whatever you’re dredging) first works better, since the seasoning can get diluted in a large amount of flour. Then you simply saute the fish in a good amount of butter for a couple of minutes per side, add some lemon juice, and finish with parsley. By the time it’s done, your rice and asparagus are ready and you have an elegant, tasty, and simple dinner.
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Salt & pepper
- 4 fresh sole fillets
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- grated lemon zest from one lemon
- freshly squeezed lemon juice from two lemons
- 2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Spread flour on a plate large enough to fit the fish. Pat the sole fillets dry with paper towels, remove any bones, and sprinkle both sides with salt & pepper.
Heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a large (12-inch) non-stick saute pan over medium heat until it starts to brown. Dredge 2 sole fillets in the flour on both sides (Don’t put the fish in the flour until you’re just ready to cook, or the flour will get soggy and gummy), shake off the excess flour, and cook for 2 minutes. Turn carefully and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. While the second side cooks, add 1/2 of lemon zest and 1/2 of lemon juice to the pan. Carefully put the fish fillets on a clean plate, pour any pan drippings over them, and tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining fillets. To serve, place one fillet on a warmed plate (with your rice and asparagus or other sides), and pour some of the pan sauce over the fish. Sprinkle fish with parsley and serve.