I’ve made it with orzo and quinoa and both are equally good. I was originally going to make this with tilapia but I got sole instead. This turned out to be a good thing— sole is so thin, I decided to roll it up and that worked really well here. Although there is some preparation involved with the vegetables, overall the dish keeps the simplicity I was looking for. Actually, after watching a show about tiny houses— the ones built on trailer beds— I realized this would work well for a tiny kitchen: you could easily do the fish in a toaster oven and you only need a two burner stove for the rest.
Options: Quinoa instead of orzo. I think couscous would also be a good base. The fish could be another sort of mild, white fish. I tried this with tilapia, but I wasn’t crazy about it. I’m sure there are other fishes that will work here, so I’ll keep an eye out. Snapper? You can top the fish with some toasted Panko at the end if you like some crunch. Or maybe ground nuts. I have a nut allergy so I can’t tell you if nuts are a possibility here. What other crunchy things are there? I also want to try adding some red pepper; maybe taking out the carrots and/or the squash. If there’s asparagus around, that would be good here too. I was thinking about adding some tarragon to the parsley sauce next time; I wonder if basil would work instead of the parsley?
For this four person version, you’ll need:
2 medium or 1 large filet of sole for each person (cut large ones in half lengthwise)
2 cups of orzo
2 crowns of broccoli
1 or 2 yellow squash (depending on size)
Garlic cloves (I used 4 cloves vegetables and 4 in the sauce)
2 cups of parsley leaves (I don’t like the stems, so I pluck the leaves)
Salt, ground pepper, olive oil (or other mild oil)
Optional: sea salt flakes, fresh cracked pepper
Cooking equipment I used:
Saute or frying pan for the vegetables (I used a 12″ frying pan)
Sheet pan lined with parchment if needed for the fish (I used a 13×18 because that’s what I have, but it could be smaller, even a toaster oven pan)
3 qt saucepan for the orzo
Get the oven going at 400°F.
Start with the the sauce so it can have a little time for the flavors to come together. Combine about two cups of finely chopped parsley with the zest and juice of one lemon, around a third of a cup of olive oil, a teaspoon of salt, and one to four or more garlic cloves —finely chopped or run through a garlic press. I use the zest and juice of one lemon to be economical and as many a four cloves of garlic and enough olive oil to give it the consistency of a sauce. You could also blitz it in a small food processor or one of those bullet things.
Next, get a pot of water going on high for the orzo and set your bowls on the stove to warm.
While the water’s heating up, rinse and dry the sole. On a baking sheet, with parchment paper if needed, brush the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt flakes; then roll the fish up bow to stern and repeat with olive oil, salt, and pepper on the outside. Put fish on baking pan.
Then set to work on your vegetables. Get the pan warming up on medium with a teaspoon or so of olive oil and a little salt. I cut the carrots and squash into thin half-moons and the broccoli into small half-florets (you can save the stems for slaw).
The water for the orzo should be ready now, so that can go in. It usually takes around nine minutes, but go with whatever the box says.
Then saute the vegetables. I turn the pan up to medium-high and put the carrots in first for a minute or so, then the broccoli, and then the squash. If you want to avoid using a pan, you could also boil the vegetables in with the orzo by adding the carrots the last four minutes and the broccoli and squash for the last three to two depending on the thickness. When the vegetables are almost ready, add one to four of more garlic cloves—finely chopped or run through a garlic press.
Once the orzo is in and the vegetables are sauteing, the fish can have its turn in the oven. The fish is ready when an instant read thermometer says 145ºF or when a fork or knife can easily go through the thickest part. This is somewhere around seven minutes.
Do I need to say ‘drain the orzo’?
I’m thinking next time I’ll give the finished bowls an extra splash of lemon and dash of sea salt flakes before it hits the table.
Notes: For olive oil, I use Columela or Nuñez de Prado— they both have a sort of spicy flavor, for sea salt flakes, I use Maldon, and for pepper, I use the Tellicherry variety. I use table salt for anything mixed in or cooked and save the sea salt flakes for finishing or roasting. Using these ingredients adds a little extra flavor to the dish and they’re getting much easier to find now.
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