Friday, January 22, 2010

Just Say Nuts to Dinner

It started with the best of intentions, like when I bought a crate of peaches in the summer, thinking of all the wonderful pies and crisps I was going to make with them. Maybe I'd even get around to making jam. Yeah!

Then a couple of days later they all got ripe at the same time, in concert with some deadlines I'd managed to put off until the last minute, and I didn't have time to peel, chop, boil and can them.

The romesco…so lovely!

So you can guess what happened when a friend called with a great deal on roasted hazelnuts from Barb and Fritz Foulke of Freddy Guys in Monmouth. She was buying several pounds to ship to a friend in Missouri and could get a bulk price if several other people wanted to buy a few pounds, too. I was so in!

Fortunately, hazelnuts (I've ranted about calling them hazelnuts v. filberts before), unlike peaches, are easy to dump in bags and freeze, and they'd been waiting patiently for me to get around to doing something with them. The other night provided the opportunity when, jonesing for a fish fix, I brought home a two-pound filet of mahi mahi.

A hazelnut crust sounded quick and simple, and since there were some red peppers sitting in the vegetable bin that needed to be used, I decided to make a romesco to go along with it. With some roasted fingerling potatoes that could go in the oven at the same time as the fish and a bunch of steamed broccolini, it was a dinner to be proud of.

If only peaches were so easy!

Hazelnut-crusted Mahi-Mahi with Hazelnut-Red Pepper Romesco

For the fish:
2 lb. filet of mahi mahi or any firm-fleshed white fish such as halibut*
Olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 c. roasted hazelnuts
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

For the romesco:
3 red peppers, roasted
1/3 c. hazelnuts
3 lg. garlic cloves
2 aci civri peppers, dried (or 1 tsp. red pepper flakes)
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500°.

For the fish, put hazelnuts in food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not pulverized. Remove to small mixing bowl and combine with other ingredients.

Place filet in roasting dish skin-side down and brush with olive oil. Coat evenly with hazelnut mixture, pressing it gently to compact it. Roast in oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

For the romesco, place all ingredients in food processor and process till smooth.

* The filet can be left whole or sliced into 1 1/2" wide strips before brushing with olive oil.

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