Oven Roasted Opah Fish with Provençal Vegetables and Basil Coulis

Opah tf

Lately, Opah filets have been frequenting the fish counter at our local shop. There are many things I like about Opah including its name, which should not be confused with a Greek dance or a celebrity talk show host. Native to the waters of Hawaii, the Opah fish (also known as Moonfish, Kingfish or Sunfish) is striking. It resembles an enormous silver-blue and rose hued sphere with white spots and crimson fins, tail and snout, and it grows to an average of three feet in size. Its flesh is firm and mildly flavored, with a rosy pink color, and, during the cooking process, it will turn white. Happily, Hawaiian Opah is not overfished, which makes it a good substitute for swordfish and halibut. It’s also predictably healthy: rich in fish oil, and a good source of protein, phosphorus, and selenium. You can read more about Opah on Seafood Watch.

This recipe is a healthy, flavorful, and colorful way to serve any firm-fleshed fish, including Opah. At this time of year, peppers are running rampant at our farmers market, so I happened to have a selection of bell, gypsy, and Fresno peppers on hand – but feel free to use sweet bell peppers for this recipe.

Oven Roasted Opah with Provençal Vegetables and Basil Coulis
Serves 4.

4 opah filets, each about 1-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 red or yellow bell peppers, stemmed and seeded, cut in bite-size pieces
2 medium shallots, quartered
1 dry pint grape tomatoes
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
2 sprigs fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 lemon, plus 4 wedges for serving

Basil Coulis:
1 cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Lightly season the fish with salt and black pepper. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a rectangular baking dish. Arrange the fish in one layer in the dish, turning to coat in the oil.
3. Combine the garlic, peppers, shallots, tomatoes, olives, thyme, oregano, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add the 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss to coat. Scatter the vegetables around the fish. Squeeze the juice of the lemon half over the fish and vegetables. Transfer to the oven and roast until the fish is just cooked through, about 30 minutes.
4. While fish is baking, prepare the basil coulis: Combine the basil, olive oil, salt, and black pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process to a chunky salsa consistency. If too thick, add additional oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve a looser consistency. Taste for seasoning.
5. To serve, top each filet with a generous spoonful of basil coulis. Serve with the lemon wedges.

Provençal Vegetable Tian with Goat Cheese and Basil Coulis

Provençal Vegetable Tian with Goat Cheese and Basil Coulis

Summer Tian

Tiring of Ratatouille?  I am a big fan of the Provençal-inspired stew of summer vegetables, but by the end of August I find myself seeking cues for inspiration in a hungry quest for different ways to use the heaps of squash, zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes harvested from our summer gardens.  So, prompted by this month’s Grow Your Own event hosted by Andrea’s Recipes, armed with a shiny new lime-green enameled cast iron pan, and inspired by a scrumptious article on tians in my favorite French magazine, Côté Sud,  I decided to create a Provençal Vegetable Tian with homegrown heirloom tomatoes and basil.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Tian is the the French word for a casserole baked in an earthenware dish, layered with seasonal vegetables and cheese.  Originating in the south of France, and possibly influenced by the North African couscous pot, the ingredients are decoratively arranged and slow cooked for simple, rustic, flavorful results.  What better way to present a typically Provençal selection of vegetables than in a tian?  The sliced veggies are tossed in a coulis of puréed basil leaves, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil to give moisture and the unmistakable flavor of summer.  Crumbled soft goat cheese adds a creamy, tangy depth to this vegetarian dish.  Baked until the vegetables are tender but not too soft, this tian is delicious straight from the oven or even the next day.  Just like a good ratatouille – but different.

Provençal Vegetable Tian with Goat Cheese and Basil Coulis
Serves 4-6

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium, firm eggplant/aubergine, stemmed, quartered lengthwise, cut in 1/2″ thick slices

3 large ripe vine or heirloom tomatoes, cut in 1/2″ thick slices
2 small yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 red or orange sweet peppers, halved, seeded, cut in 2″ square pieces
1 medium zucchini, cut in 1/4″ thick slices
1 medium yellow squash or 2-3 large patty pan squash, cut in 1/4″ thick slices
6 oz. (180 grams) fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Prepare Basil Coulis:
Combine basil and garlic in bowl of food processor. While the machine is running, pour in 1/3 cup (80 ml.) oil in steady stream until consistency resembles a vinaigrette; add more oil if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Grill Eggplant:
Arrange eggplant slices in one layer on oven tray.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill in oven until eggplant turns golden brown and softens, about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven.

Assemble Tian:
Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.)
Lightly oil an earthenware baking/gratin dish.  In a large bowl, toss slices of grilled eggplant, tomatoes, onions, zucchini and yellow squash with 3/4 of the basil coulis.  Arrange slices overlapping on the diagonal in baking dish.  Crumble goat cheese over vegetables.  Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake in oven 50 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool briefly.  Drizzle remaining basil coulis over tian.  Garnish with whole basil leaves.  Serve warm or at room temperature.