My sister was coming in from out of town and I had no idea what to make for dinner. As I strolled the produce section, I spotted the Swiss Chard, which was standing up at attention, bright and green, sturdy and fresh. It got my attention, so I grabbed it. I wasn't sure what I would do with it but it was gorgeous. I picked up a fluffy head of broccoli and some Idaho potatoes and made my way to the fish market. The Red Snapper looked a bit suspect but the Wild Caught Lemon Sole caught my eye.
(Although I didn't know what I was going to buy this time around, I do shop in a similar fashion. When I have a plan for food items, if I get to the store and they don't look good, I walk on by and come up with another plan. Buy fresh, buy what speaks to you and try to buy in season whenever possible. This is how my 'something from nothing' style was born... what do I have and what can I do with?)
On the way home with my items in tow, I thought I would sauté the chard and stuff the sole. First, I needed to get the potatoes going. I made accordion like cuts into my Idahos, drizzle them with oil, a good sprinkle of sea salt, pepper and slid them into a 400 degree oven. (I can't take credit for slicing the potato this way. I also can't recall where I saw it, but I like how it looks and how it cooks, so I'm sharing it here.)
Then, as I cut up the chard, I plotted my strategy. Here's how my head works when I'm not exactly sure of the plan.
I know that some people throw out the ribs of leafy greens because they might be tough, but I try to use as much of a product as possible. As I cut out the ribs, i know that these will be hearty and sturdy. I thought they would be great as a bed to lay the fish on top, so they got chopped into 1 inch pieces. I then sautéed red onion, some garlic, and the ribs of swiss chard, salt and pepper. But as I tasted it I felt like it needed something else. Something with a hint of sweetness. Searching in the fridge, I found a carrot and shaved some pieces into the sauté mix. This made a huge difference.
I set that aside and started on the stuffing. I cut up all the leafy green parts added a shallot, some garlic and sautéed them together. I had made some shrimp broth the day before and after the greens cooked down a bit, I added the broth. My mind was still working on the stuffing mixture and was feeling it needed some texture and body. That's when I remembered that I had leftover polenta squares. I took 3 and mashed them up into my mixture.
This gave the mixture the body it needed. Once it all combined, I spread it onto the fish, rolled it up. There you have my stream of consciousness for this dish. Now, that you've been patient, below are the more straightforward instructions.
Ingredients for entire meal
- 4 pieces Lemon Sole
- 1 bunch swiss chard
- 1/2 c shaved carrot
- 1/4 c minced red onion
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 garlic cloves
- polenta or bread cubes, bread crumbs (enough to help bind)
- 1/2 c fish stock (you can use vegetable stock, wine or even water but then only 1/4 cup)
- 4 Idaho potatoes
- 1 head broccoli
- Olive oil, salt & pepper
Cut deep slits into the potato and drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper. Place into a 400 degree oven.
Wash and cut the broccoli into small pieces. Cut the stems into chunks. Place all the pieces on a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper.
Cut the ribs out of the swiss chard and chop them into 1 inch pieces, setting them aside.
Chop up all the leafy green parts, set aside.
With a vegetable peeler, shave carrot into 2 inch ribbons.
In a cast iron pan, sauté 1/4 c of red onion in 2 tbsp olive oil until tender and add 2 smashed cloves of garlic.
Add the ribs of swiss chard, salt and pepper. Once the chard softens, add the half of the shaved carrot and sauté until mixture is tender. Remove from the pan. This mixture will be used to plate the fish upon.
After the potatoes have been cooking for 1/2 hour, turn them over. At the same time, put the broccoli tray in the oven.
Meanwhile using the same sauté pan, add some oil, minced shallot and 1/2 garlic clove, minced . Once soft, add the swiss chard greens and remaining carrots and cook until wilted. Then add the shrimp broth and polenta (or breadcrumbs) to create a stuffing mixture. Spread the mixture on the filets then roll and secure with toothpicks. Lightly brown on the stove top.
Remove the potatoes and broccoli once tender and nicely roasted.
Then lower oven to 350 degree and finish the stuffed fish in oven for 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of the filets. Plate using the chard ribs and carrot mixture as a base for your fish, round out the plate with some broccoli and a potato.
I really like how the sweetness of carrots mellowed out the chard. And although I used some polenta to give the stuffing some body, this did not make it heavy like a traditional bread crumb stuffing would. Jill and Juan Carlos loved it, and I was pleased with the results.