My friend Alison turned 30 over the weekend, which was certainly a cause to celebrate! The official birthday festivities took place on Saturday, but I was quite honored when she asked if I would cook her dinner on Sunday evening for her actual birthday. So what does one make for such an event? Something special yet easy so that I could socialize with Alison and our friend Carrie, who also joined us, while preparing dinner.
I still have risotto on my mind after making my Parmesan Risotto with Leeks and Mushrooms
dish. (I also still have a very large bag of Arborio rice—used to make risotto—that needs to be used up!) So I decided to make this a part of my dish and top it off with a fish fillet.
The risotto I made was similar to my Parmesan Risotto with Leeks and Mushrooms
dish, except that I replaced the mushrooms with asparagus. This added a Spring flair to the risotto, which was perfect for an April birthday. I also did not include the cream in order to make the risotto less rich.
For the fish, I chose a lemon sole fillet since this fish is light in flavor and would not fight for attention with the risotto. I think tilapia or halibut would also work with this dish for the same reasons.
Meanwhile, I still needed something that would help the dish really pop. So I decided on a pesto to top it off, but didn’t want the conventional basil and pine nut basil. Instead I chose to use watercress due to its bold flavor and walnuts because, well, I like them. I also toasted the walnuts before adding them to the food processor, which really enhanced the flavor.
Okay, so here is the recipe for 3 servings. Note that you can make the pesto ahead of time and set it aside.Watercress and Toasted Walnut Pesto
- ½ cup of walnuts halves, lightly toasted
- ½ clove of garlic
- ½ cup of watercress leaves
- ¼ - ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (amount depends on the pesto consistency you desire)
- Salt to taste
- Add the toasted walnuts and garlic to the food processor and pulse until roughly chopped.
- Add watercress and mix until ingredients are pureed.
- Slowly add olive oil until the pesto reaches the desired consistency.
- Add salt to taste.
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 tsp and 2 tbsp olive oil
- 15 asparagus stalks, rough ends removed
- 1 medium leek, chopped and rinsed (remember, you only use the white and light green part of the leek)
- ¾ cup Arborio rice
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (the green can kind is prohibited!!!)
Lemon Sole Fish Fillet
- In a large pot, bring chicken broth to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to the lowest setting to keep broth warm and cover.
- While broth is heating up, add 1 tsp of olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add asparagus stalks and cook until asparagus is bright green. This should take a few minutes.
- Remove asparagus and place aside. Cut into 1 inch pieces once cooled.
- Now add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and the chopped leaks to the large sauté pan. Sauté the leeks until they just begin to brown.
- Add the Arborio rice and mix until the rice is glistening with the oil.
- Pour in the wine and mix until absorbed.
- Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and mix until the rice again absorbs the liquid and reaches a thick, creamy consistency. Continue this process, pouring only 1/2 cup of broth at a time, until the rice is tender. This should take about 20 minutes. Also note, that the amount of broth needed will vary so you may not use all 4 cups. If you need more liquid, water will be just fine.
- Add the parmesan cheese and chopped asparagus and mix together.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup flour
- 3 lemon sole fillets
- Lightly oil the fish fillets with about 1 tbsp of olive oil.
- Cover fillets with flour and shake excess off (be careful, lemon sole is fragile).
- In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add remaining tbsp of olive oil. Add fish fillets and cook on both sides until opaque. This will take about 2-3 minutes on each side. (My skillet was too small for all three fillets, so I just cooked them one at a time.)
- Place risotto onto serving plate, top with fish fillet, and add a large dollop of pesto.
Hope you enjoy this dish!
Labels: fish, leeks, rice