- Grating Makes for a Great Base
change the way your food taste.
The next soffritto on our list puts into practice the art of grating. The vegetable base is the same as in the previous recipes, but the manner in which they are prepared is somewhat unorthodox. By grating the vegetables, you enable the very essence of their flavours to come through in a way you otherwise wouldn’t get by conventional cutting. You’ll notice that as you grate that carrot or celery, the aroma will be so intense you’ll be able to taste the vegetables through your nose. I use a regular cheese grater, but with greater quantities I opt for a food processor with a grater attachment (note the alliteration).
This recipe is fast, easy and very healthy. (I know it sounds like a Rachel Ray cliché, but my Mother was making this recipe before Ray was watching T.V.) It can be made with chicken, veal, lamb, or fish—just make sure to adjust your cooking time depending on which meat you’re using. And I hope you try this soffritto base in other dishes; it works really well when making omelettes and pasta primavera.
Fig.2. Make sure you have rice or bread on hand to absorb all the sauce.
Serves 4 to 5
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
3 large pieces of firm white fish such as cod or halibut.
2 large carrots, grated
1 large celery stalk, grated
1 small onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, grated small (I use a microplane for this)
½ cup white wine
1 28oz can of cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes
some parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated (optional)
zest of 1 lemon
Cut fish into manageable pieces (I like to cut it about the size of my spatula) and season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides.
In a large ovenproof skillet pan set over medium high heat, add the olive oil and butter. When oil begins to smoke, add the fish and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side—try to get some color on the fish. (Make sure your fish isn’t too thin or it’ll dry out. I like to use fish that’s ¾” to 1” thick. It’s a question of practice, if your fish is thin, higher the heat and cook less.) Set the fish aside.
In the same pan, add some more olive oil if necessary and sauté the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes then add the garlic, cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Increase the temperature slightly and add the wine, let it simmer and reduce for about 4 to 5 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Add the tomatoes (if you’re using plum tomatoes break them up with a wooden spoon—or better yet use your hands.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let it simmer and reduce for 15 to 20 minutes.
Place the fish back in the pan making sure you spoon some of the sauce over it. Sprinkle with the parmigianno and lemon zest and place in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Serve immediately over some rice.