Saturday, 2 January 2016

Basil, Spinach and Nut Crusted Haddock

I was given a bag of trail mix for Christmas, and had used the cashews in a tandoori chicken salad wrap. I decided to use the almonds, pecans and walnuts to crust some haddock. There was also some spinach and fresh basil in the fridge so I added these to the nuts to make a crust for the fish, which was then baked.

The nuts added crunch to the crust, which was a nice contrast to the moist, tender fish. I served the fish with a salad of baby romaine and avocado, using some leftover roasted garlic to  make  Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette, and added some fresh asparagus.

The meal was a husband literally licked both of our plates clean!

To make the crust, combine the following in a food processor:

1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup mixed nuts (almonds, pecans and walnuts)
2 cloves of garlic

Process until finely chopped.

With the food processor running, slowly add:

1/4 cup olive oil

Continue to process, scraping the bowl down if needed, until you have a slightly chunky puree.

Remove the crust from the food processor. Stir in:

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Lightly grease an ovenproof dish.

Pat the fish fillets dry, using paper towel. I was using frozen haddock.

Place the fish in a single layer in the prepared dish.

Divide the crust between the fish, gently spreading it to cover the fish.

Bake until the fish is cooked. The time depends on the thickness of your fish. You should allow between 8 - 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

Remove from the oven and serve.

  • This crust is a take on Basil Pesto. I used equal amounts of basil and spinach, and instead of pinenuts I used a mix of nuts from my trail mix. I also used more nuts and less olive oil, than I would use when making pesto.
  • The choice of herbs is entirely up to you and what you have available. Good choices for fish include parsley, dill, fresh thyme or rosemary. A mixture of herbs and spinach can also be used.
  • Instead of spinach, use arugula if you have some. This will add a nice peppery note to your crust.
  • Brighten the crust up by adding lemon zest, and/or capers.
  • Nut oils or avocado oil can be used instead of olive oil.
  • Any firm white fish such as cod, halibut, snapper or seabass can be used. Salmon can also be used. The crust can also be used on oysters or scallops on the half shell; serve them in the shell.
  • You can also use the crust on chicken breasts, lamb chops or pork chops.
  • Turn the crust into a sauce by increasing the amount of olive oil. Whipping cream can also be added to the crust to make a cream sauce.
  • The crust can be made ahead and frozen in ice cube trays, and then stored in a sealed container in the freezer until needed.

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