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September 18, 2002|MARY ELLEN RAE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Sole is a delicate but firm white fish that needs only a flash in the pan with butter and lemon to be delicious. But when tomatoes and basil are at their best, they're perfect as a topping for this sole, which starts on the stove and finishes in the oven.

I like the tomato topping so much that I make extra and serve it on slices of toasted French bread.

You can also use halibut or tilapia in this recipe; just be sure to keep an eye on the fish as it cooks, particularly if some filets are thicker and larger than others. Add a few extra minutes cooking time for thicker filets.

Sole Provencal

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 25 minutes

2 pounds tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 tablespoons capers, drained

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt, pepper

1 1/2 pounds sole filets

About 1/2 cup flour, for dredging

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the tomatoes, garlic, capers, basil, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a bowl and set aside.

Rinse the fish and pat dry. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Heat a large skillet and add the remaining olive oil. Add several filets to the pan and cook 1 minute per side, then remove. Repeat with the remaining filets. Place the fish in one layer in a large roasting pan. Spread the tomato mixture over the top and bake until the fish flakes with a fork and is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Serve over the Basmati Rice Pilaf.

6 servings. Each serving: 245 calories; 226 mg sodium; 61 mg cholesterol; 13 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 9 grams carbohydrates; 23 grams protein; 1.76 grams fiber.

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Basmati Rice Pilaf

Active Work Time: 5 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 20 minutes

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 cups basmati rice, rinsed under cold water

3 1/2 cups chicken broth or water

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Fluff with a fork when ready to serve.

6 servings. Each serving: 90 calories; 430 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 0 saturated fat; 13 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.60 gram fiber.

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MENU

Sole Provencal

Basmati Rice Pilaf

French Bread

SHOPPING LIST

Basil

French bread

Shallots

Sole

Tomatoes

STAPLES

Capers

Chicken broth

Flour

Garlic

Extra-virgin olive oil

Basmati rice

GAME PLAN

25 minutes before: Heat oven. Make tomato topping. Start rice.

15 minutes before: Saute the fish and place in roasting pan with tomato mixture. Bake fish.

5 minutes before: Heat French bread. Fluff rice and serve with fish.

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