Recipes: Lemony Couscous, Mediterranean Fish


Simmering deliciousness. Photo by Keri White

The following meal came together rather nicely, using fresh fish with mostly pantry ingredients.

I used halibut, but this dish would work with pretty much any sturdy fresh or defrosted frozen fish such as cod, sea bass, snapper, salmon, fluke or haddock. I would avoid the most delicate filets (like flounder or sole) because they might not stand up to the robustness of the sauce.

We kept it simple, with a salad and some crusty bread, which was rapturous dipped in the tomato/olive sauce, but any carby side would work here — pasta, rice, barley, quinoa, groats, couscous, etc., all provide a lovely bed to soak up the sauce.

The lemon couscous below is simple, and complements the fish nicely. As for vegetables, keep it simple; there’s plenty of flavor going on with the tomato/olive sauce. Stick with sautéed, steamed or roasted vegetables, or toss a bowl of simple greens with olive oil, salt, pepper and a drop or two of vinegar.

For dessert, we enjoyed “spiked” strawberries from the farmers market over vanilla ice cream.

Fish with Tomato-Olive Sauce
Serves 4

1½ pounds fish filets
Sprinkles of salt and pepper, plus more to taste if needed
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
1 large very ripe tomato, chopped with juice or 1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes
10 large green pitted olives, cut in quarters

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and sauté the garlic and onions until fragrant.

Spritz the fish with lemon juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then set aside.

Add tomatoes with juice and olives to the skillet. Bring it to a simmer and allow it to cook, uncovered, for a few minutes to blend the flavors, thicken and reduce a bit.

Using a large spoon or spatula, push the sauce and solids to the perimeter of the pan and carefully place the fish in the center. Spoon the sauce and solids over the fish, lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer the fish until done, about 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness. When done, the fish should be opaque throughout and flake easily.

Taste the sauce for seasoning; add salt and pepper, if needed, and serve.

Lemony Couscous
Serves 4

I used vegetable broth for a bit more flavor, but water would work, as would chicken, fish or beef broth, depending on what other dishes are being served.

1½ cups broth or water, boiling
½ teaspoon salt and a generous sprinkle of fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 cup couscous
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the salt, pepper, lemon juice, zest and butter or oil.

When the broth reaches a boil, add the couscous, stir briefly, cover and remove it from the heat.

Let it sit for 5 minutes.

Remove the cover, fluff the couscous with a fork, and toss in fresh parsley.

Spiked Strawberries
Makes about 2¼ cups, or enough to top about 6 dessert servings

Adding liqueur makes these a more grown-up treat, but if you have youngsters at the table or others who are non-drinkers, just skip the booze and add the sugar. When you let this sit for a while, the sugar pulls some of the juice out of the berries and makes its own sauce.

We enjoyed this ladled over vanilla ice cream, but it would be lovely atop spongecake, pound cake, cheesecake or custard.

1 pint fresh strawberries, stemmed and cut in quarters (or halves if small)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons framboise, kirsch, triple sec or your favorite cordial

Mix the berries, sugar and liqueur.

Let it sit at room temperature for about an hour (chill if longer).

Serve as desired.


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