My Good Work Farm CSA box of veggies (see side note to the right to know what I am talking about) was waiting for me at my pick-up spot this week and was full to the brim with Spinach, Kale, Lettuce, Turnips, Easter Egg Radish bunches, Sugar Ann Snap Peas and Oregon Giant Snow Peas. What a bounty! The white turnips were a mystery to me at first. I don’t think of turnips as a Spring Vegetable, but what do I know about farming? The two varieties of peas should have had me jumping for joy but I was so taken with those turnips. The were so purely white with the tiniest cast of yellow, and smooth like an egg. At that point I knew I would be cooking with one or two of these veggies but had no plan in mind.
So, yesterday was my birthday and, after I quickly shrugged off the dreadful realization at how time was flying and “what on earth had I done with my life?” questions, I decided to have fun! I had no plans and I certainly did not want to make any. I’m not big into the whole dressing up to go out kind of celebration, but, I did want to dress up and stay in! I like parties when I don’t have to leave my kitchen. All I wanted to do was cook a dinner that I would love, and, have my family around me while doing it.
The plan was for my daughter to help me make a chocolate cake but then, a phone call from our friend Tom foiled that plan (in the best possible way) as he announced he had made me a cake, and, that of course meant 1 more person for dinner. Soon after that I got an email from my friend Lori who was on her way back from NYC who told me that I should “leave room for dessert,” meaning of course I now had two birthday cakes and yet another dinner guest!
My dinner to myself came to me at the fish counter. I absolutely knew it had to be fish and I wanted a little extravagance. The scallops were fresh, as was a lovely piece of monkfish and that is what I centered my dish around. I wanted to watch the Pixar animated movie Ratatouille while I cooked, so, my daughter switched her pastry chef hat for a sous-chef’s and she became “Little Chef!”
I had the best time in the kitchen. I barked orders and my daughter answered “yes chef” to every one of my requests; “go outside and cut some parsley and thyme,” “stir the onions and add the carrots,” “make a little plate of potatoes with parsley and butter for our hungry guests,” etc. etc.
I decided to use the spinach out of my veggie box as I felt it needed to be a delicate green to go with the scallops and fish. I made the broth “red” by adding a cup of juice from a can of San Marzano plum tomatoes. The whole dish was so so good and there is no way we could have been this satisfied if we ate out.
My two cakes put me over the edge but I just had to have a piece of each, not that any arms had to be twisted.
For something not planned, I had a most memorable Birthday Dinner!
You will Need: 1lb dry scallops, 1 lb fresh monkfish, chopped into big bite-sized pieces, 1 sweet onion, 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 5 cloves garlic thinly sliced, 3 carrots, peeled and sliced, 2 sprigs thyme, 1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves, 6 parsley stems, 2 bay leaves, 1 1/4 cups tomato juice (I used the juice from a 28oz can of plum tomatoes), 1 1/4 cups white wine, 1 1/4 cups chicken broth, 1 tsp coarse sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, 6 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and left whole if small and torn if large, 1 tbs cold unsalted butter.
1 – Prep everything as directed above. Put big saute pan on medium heat and add the oil. Saute garlic and onions for 10 minutes (until onions are soft).
2 – Add carrots and continue to saute for another 5 to 7 minutes.
3 – Add all liquids, parsley stems, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Let everything come to a simmer, cover and gently simmer for 10 minutes.
*Put water on for tagliatelle and when it boils, add some salt and cook according to instructions. The tagliatelle I use cooks in three minutes in boiling water so I make sure not to cook it until the last minute.
4 – Add monkfish and chopped parsley and continue to simmer with lid on for 2 minutes. Turn fish and add scallops. Continue to cook for 2 minutes. Turn scallops.
5 – Place spinach and butter on top and replace lid. Let the spinach wilt (about 2 minutes) Take pan off heat and stir very gently to incorporate the butter.
To serve: Put tagliatelle in warmed bowls and divide the fish between each. Spoon lots of broth over each dish.
You can also serve this alone or like below