I’ve been following Apartment Therapy’s Kitchn Cure for the past few weeks, thinking what a great idea it would be to do one of their assignments in our house someday. Of course something always seems to come up — travel, dog adoption, and chronic laziness being the three obstacles lately — but I did find inspiration in this week’s assignment to clean out the fridge and pantry, tossing processed foods and things that contain high fructose corn syrup. I’ve been on the anti-HFCS bandwagon from a taste perspective for years, so we don’t have much of that stuff around here, but I did toss an old bottle of ketchup which I’ve replaced with the organic stuff from Trader Joe’s. (Haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll let you know how it compares to the Heinz gold standard.)
While I was in there, I took note of anything that was nearing its expiration date and should be used ASAP, which is a roundabout way of saying that this meal was brought to you by cleaning out the fridge. Appetizing, yes? What lurked in the inky depths were leftover chopped tomatoes in juice, a fennel bulb waaay back in the crisper drawer, and half a jar of roasted peppers. Hmmm, tomatoes and fennel, tomatoes and fennel. When it comes to those two ingredients, there’s only one place to go for inspiration, so I headed over to Last Night’s Dinner and cobbled together a meal that did me proud.
It was really simple to put together, too, and could easily qualify as a weeknight meal. In a stainless steel pan, I heated some olive oil and sautÃ©eed half of a thinly sliced red onion, a thinly sliced fennel bulb, and three small chopped cloves of garlic. Once they’d softened, I deglazed the pan with about 1/4 cup of Herbsaint to deepen that lovely fennel flavor even more; feel free to substitute another anise-flavored liquer or simply dry white wine if you don’t have it. Once most of the liquid had cooked off, I added about 3/4 of a large can of chopped tomatoes in juice, 1/2 jar of chopped roasted peppers, 1/4 cup golden raisins, salt, and pepper, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Into the food processor it went (being quite unattractive in its natural state) along with some lemon juice for a quick whirl; it emerged much better-looking than it had been only minutes before.
When we were at Trader Joe’s last weekend, I branched out from the organic ketchup and picked up a bit of fish and a brown rice medley, which completed this meal. I seasoned the mahi mahi filets well with salt & pepper, then dusted them lightly with flour and pan fried them in a little olive and canola oil until golden, about 2-3 minutes per side. The light crust added a nice dimension to the fish and even held up to the liberal dousing of lemon juice I always give white fish before serving.