It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
Fresh fish is a wonderfully fast dinner option. On Fridays my local farmer’s market features several fish vendors who bring in their catch from the North Sea. Some mornings there are so many options that is can be overwhelming but I am gradually becoming more comfortable with recognizing the fish and as well as their French names. Cod, however, is a fish that I am quite familiar with and one that my entire family will eat since its firm white flesh isn’t “fishy”. This is a one-pan dish with the Cod being sauteed on top of the fennel and pepper slaw, ingredients that I was also able to pick up at the morning market.
SAUTEED COD w/ WARM FENNEL-PEPPER SLAW
2 4-ounce cod filets, or other firm white fish
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced, fronds reserved
1 small shallot, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced into strips
2 tablespoons Pernod
Salt & pepper
- Season the cod on both sides with the salt and pepper then set aside on a plate.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
- When the oil shimmers, add in the fennel, shallot and both peppers.
- Cook for 2 minutes then stir in the Pernod.
- Push the vegetables to the side of the skillet creating an open space for the Cod.
- Add the Cod to the pan and cook without disturbing for 4 to 5 minutes or until the fish begins to flake.
- Flip the fish over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the fish is firm.
- Divide the fennel and pepper mixture amongst two plates.
- Place the Cod on top of the vegetables then sprinkle with the reserved fennel fronds.
- Serve immediately.
I’m living in Belgium and when it comes to Belgian food the first thing I think of is mussels. Here in Belgium there are restaurants in every city and town that sell mussels. Sometimes they are simply steamed while other times they are come to the table dripping in sauces of all imaginable flavors. As more than one person has told me, even those people who don’t like mussels grow to love them during their stay here since you can always find a sauce that is pleasing to your taste buds. Personally, I’ve always loved mussels. Growing up I remember pulling them from the rocks during low tide at Pemaquid Point, Maine. Once home we’d scrub them then steam them up in huge pots. When Glenn was deployed one of my favorite dinners was a platter of mussels that had been steamed in garlic and white wine. I’d sit in the living room watching “chick flicks” , eating my mussels and washing it all down with the leftover wine. And one of my favorite meals in Albania was mussels steamed with tomatoes and herbs eaten alongside slabs of peasant bread. Like most shellfish, eating them requires a bit of work but the effort is worth it.
This recipe is an adaption of one published in Food 52. I love all of the components but I jumped on this recipe as an enticement to introduce the wonders of mussels to my family. The sausage and fennel were hits and the mussels received mixed reviews from the littlest family member. Personally I loved them and can’t wait make this dish again. Serve the mussels with a loaf of crusty bread to soak up the juices and enjoy.
MUSSELS w/ FENNEL & SAUSAGE
2 pounds fresh wild mussels
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
2 large fennel bulbs, sliced thin, fronds reserved
1 large shallot, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
3/4 cup Pernod
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup half & half cream
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pinch saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of warm water
- Rinse and clean mussels, discarding any that will not close.
- Remove the sausage from its casings. Place one tablespoon of olive oil in a lidded pot large enough to hold the mussels. Set the pot over medium heat and add the sausage. Cook, crumbling until browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Set the sausage aside, leaving the fat in the pot. Add another tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add the fennel and the shallots and saute over medium heat until the fennel softens and begins to caramelize.
- Remove the fennel and shallots and set aside with the sausage.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the pot with the garlic, red pepper flakes, and saffron. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the Pernod and bring to a boil.
- Add the rinsed mussels to the pot, cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the mussels open.
- Add the half & half, sausage and fennel to the pot. Cook an additional 3 minutes, shaking the pot a few more times.
- To serve, sprinkle the mussels with the reserved fennel fronds.