Haddock with Courgette and Spinach Gratin

I strongly feel we don’t eat enough fish. Actually, let me rephrase that. Every self-respecting foodie and environmentalist knows world fish stocks are plummeting due to unsustainable farming/fishing and excessive consumption. However, I agree with Delia Smith when she says the British don’t eat enough fish – despite living on an island – because they are scared of cooking it. I love fish. To me, a bowl of home-made fish soup can be the perfect ending to a stressful and manic day. A good fish baked in a salt crust is simply divine. However, my partner is more oriented towards meat and doesn’t like fish which tastes of, well, fish (duh!): this means we don’t eat as much sea products in my household as I would like to. I do compensate with sushi and sashimi whenever I can, but I have also came to the conclusion that if I manage to make the flavour of the fish very interesting and enrich it with other tones, then my partner will love it too.

This recipe started as a celeriac gratin on one of the BBC Good Food magazine but I changed it to courgettesĀ as I couldn’t find it in my local supermarketĀ and it definitely works. Choose a flaky white fish for this, for instance haddock or cod, as you will need a meaty fish to counteract the creaminess of the vegetables. The fish is poached rather than roasted, which keeps it really moist and succulent. A sprinkle of paprika on top will enhance the flavour of the dish and provide a colourful touch. In addition, despite the presence of cream, this dish is not as heavy as it might look like, so don’t feel guilty to indulge and have second helpings!

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Ingredients

  • 500-600g white flaky fish fillets, such as haddock or cod, cut into 4 portions
  • 300g fresh spinach
  • 2 courgettes, thickly sliced
  • 200ml double cream
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • butter (for greasing)
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200C and butter a large gratin dish.
  2. Tip the spinach in a colander and sit in the sink. Slowly pour a kettle of boiling water on the leaves and wilt them, then run under cold water to cool them down. Squeeze any excess water out of the leaves with your hands and set aside.
  3. Tip the courgette slices, spinach and cream in the gratin dish. Season and toss everything together. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the vegetables from the oven, then lay the fish pieces on top of them. Sprinkle with the paprika and season with salt and pepper, then cover with the foil again and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and serve while hot.

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Fennel-scented Seabass

Now this is a very easy dish. All you need to do is bake some seabass with the addition of a handful of ingredients to get yourself a tasty and colourful meal. The recipe is a free adaptation of one found in one of the many cooking magazines I buy, so please feel free to experiment with the ingredients you like the most and add them on to the fish.

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Ingredients

  • 2 seabasses, whole, descaled and gutted (you can ask your fishmonger to do this)
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely sliced – leaves put aside
  • 50g black olives, pitted
  • 2 red chillies, finely sliced
  • 1 bunch of basil, finely sliced
  • 1 whole lemon, sliced (I used limes here)

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 160C. Line a baking tray and put the fish on top of it, with their heads facing opposite directions. Season both sides of each fish with plenty of salt and pepper.
  2. Fill the cavities of the fish with the fennel leaves, some basil and one or two lemon slices.
  3. Arrange the rest of the ingredients around, under and above the fish, then drizzle with some olive oil.
  4. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the fish is cooked but not dry.
  5. Remove from the oven, fillet and serve.

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