I often share recipes for rich desserts, and it is possible that when I refer to a light dinner followed by something rich, my readers may be wondering how to combine. Well, let's say you have made the Lemon Pudding Cakes from the King Arthur Flour Company online--just visit their website and click on recipes to find it.
You will be rewarded for your efforts by an individual dessert that is unbelievably good, but if you serve something heavy for dinner your guests may actually decline it on the grounds that they are full. Oh no! You mustn't do that!
So here is a basic fish dinner recipe, but it is even more than a menu for a light dinner. This lemon-and-almond-crusted fish could well be chicken or turkey cutlets. The idea translates to more than just fish.
By the way, cod and halibut are recommended for this recipe by the America Online Food page because they say that cod is responsibly sourced and the population is large and stable. But you could do this recipe with tilapia, absolutely. For that matter, if you want a kind of spectacular dinner, you could buy a large salmon fillet and treat it the same way.
I buy fish at Sprouts in Tucson because they bring it in from places where there is clean water and deep-water fishing. Check out their frozen fish next time you are there.
ALMOND CRUSTED FISH WITH SPINACH
Zest and juice of 1 organic lemon, divided
1/2 cup sliced organic almonds, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons organic olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1-1/4 pound Pacific cod or halibut, cut into 4 portions
4 teaspoons organic Dijon mustard
2 cloves organic garlic, slivered
1 pound organic baby spinach
Lemon wedges for garnish
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
Combine the lemon zest, almonds, dill, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place the fish on the prepared baking sheet and spread each portion with 1 teaspoon mustard. Divide the almond mixture among the portions, pressing it onto the mustard.
Bake the fish until it is opaque in the center, about 7 to 9 minutes, depending on thickness.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a covered saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not brown, about 30 seconds. Stir in spinach, lemon juice and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Cook covered, stirring often, until the spinach is just wilted, 2 to 4 minutes. Cover to keep warm. Serve the fish on a bed of spinach with lemon wedges.
I mention olive oil in the recipe but not your expensive green EVOO (as Rachael Ray says) simply because EVOO is not recommended for cooking. Make your salads with it instead and cook with any good organic olive oil.
By now you have caught on that the lemon-flavored fish will be echoed later in the Lemon Pudding Cakes for dessert. In my opinion this menu is what you might call a Fear Nothing plan for dinner, meaning you could prepare it for anyone from the President of the United States on down to your everyday buddies and family. On the side I would probably serve something relatively unobtrusive such as mashed potatoes or a rice pilaf.
The Fear Nothing idea comes from the late Peg Bracken, who coined the term in relation to clothes. Think back over your life, she wrote, and you are bound to remember at least a few things that you really looked good in. Then find yourself a dress that incorporates the color or the style or the features, and you have a Fear Nothing dress, that you really could wear to anything. I miss Peg Bracken.