When author Mike Martin shared my recent #readcookeat recipe for Triple Layer Vegetarian Lasagne on his Facebook page, some of his followers said that they were looking forward to me trying out the dessert recipes. Sgt Windflower is a man who lives for his food, so I have several promising-sounding recipes bookmarked from A Long Ways From Home (click through for my review), including his favourite peanut butter cheesecake. I will get there eventually but last night, I wanted something healthy for dinner so I opted for another of his fish recipes.
p46 He stopped at the supermarket along the way home and picked up a barbecued chicken, a baguette and a salad bag. That would be supper tonight and a couple of days of lunches too.
When he got home, he cut off half of the chicken breast, sliced off a big chunk of bread that he smothered in butter, and filled the rest of his plate with salad and some cherry tomatoes he found in the fridge. He ate as slowly as he could, which wasn't very slow, rinsed his plate and made a large pot of tea. Might as well enjoy the evening, he thought. He put his teapot on the living room table, turned on the Blue Jays game and picked up his Brunetti book.
He liked this book by Donna Leon, but was getting a little bit irritated by the fact that she seemed to skim over the meals in this story, instead of describing them in the great detail Windflower savoured. The food was still there, like involtini with fresh asparagus and fish dishes such as merluzzo con spinaci, but Windflower felt a little cheated when neither the author nor the diners in the book paid too much attention to what they were eating.
Well, as he said, there are no detailed descriptions as to what this recipe entailed so, after finding out that merluzzo con spinaci translated as cod with spinach, I was given pretty much free reign. I did have a look online to see if there was an official, authentically Italian version but there seem to be as many variations as there are cooks - a creamy oven-baked dish, a very refined dish of rolled cod filled with spinach, a very basic grilled cod steak on a plate of pan-fried spinach, ... Well, I had a rummage in the fridge/freezer and came up with another new version - I give you Merluzzo con spinaci à la Madhouse !
Merluzzo con spinaci
a pack of cod fillets
a pack of frozen spinach
a drizzle of olive oil and a knob of butter
a handful of pine nuts
10 cherry tomatoes
salt, black pepper, garlic pepper, garlic salt
a handful of dried breadcrumbs
a handful of grated parmesan
If using frozen cod, zap it in the microwave to defrost it. Put the frozen spinach in a large pan and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, until it thaws and creates a creamy mass.
While the spinach is cooking, in a small frying pan, cook the onions in a drizzle of olive oil mixed in with a knob of butter. Don't overcook them or they will go bitter - you want them to be soft but not coloured. Toss the onions into the spinach, along with the pine nuts and mix them all together.
Halve the cherry tomatoes and add them to the mixture. Shake in a little garlic salt and stir.
Grind some fresh black pepper over the fish and add some garlic pepper and/or garlic salt.
Transfer the spinach to an ovenproof dish and lay the fish on top.
Scatter over some breadcrumbs and parmesan.
Put in the oven at 180° for about 10-12 minutes until the fish is cooked through (and flakes easily). Feel free to pop it under the grill on a high setting for 1 minute to add some colour.
Use a slotted fish slice to remove a portion of the spinach with the fish on top and serve on a bed of rice (we used coconut rice which was lovely).
Fancy joining in with the #readcookeat challenge? Head over to Chez Maximka.