The Dwarfs' Dinner
This cold has made me think of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In fact, I think I've actually been at least four of those dwarfs, myself, this week - namely, Grumpy, Sleepy, Dopey and Sneezy. I think I need to stop being Bashful and just call Doc! Once this cold has passed, I'll be Happy.
Okay, now you see how sad my condition is, when I'm reduced to actually working at finding ways to incorporate all seven names into my opening paragraph. I even thought it was clever. Truly pathetic.
Anyway, I've been playing around with pasta dishes while I've been ill and I think I hit the Holy Grail last night. I had some halibut fillets in the fridge and a single mild Italian sausage left from my earlier attempt and, somehow, to me the combination of the two seemed really appealing, although very strange. What the heck, I couldn't taste much with a stuffy nose, so why not try it? If it's a disaster, so be it.
My Beloved and I sat down with some trepidation to the finished bowls of capellini topped with fish in a soupy, tomato-y, spicy broth but the first taste was like a divine revelation - nothing short of enlightening. Hallelujah! Halibut and sausage were made for each other!
This is easily the best dish I've made in a month of Sundays. It cleared my head with its fragrant heat and the flavors melded perfectly. We slurped it down 'til there was only a little red goozle in the bottom of the bowls. I should have served some good, rustic bread with it so we could have sopped up the last few drops - as it was, I just tipped up the bowl and drank the last bit. My very proper mother would have been appalled.
The next morning, I awoke with a clear head - no more sniffles. Apparently, this dish is also a cold remedy. I can't say I'm looking forward to my next cold but I know for sure what I'm going to cook up when it comes. Snow White would be proud.
The Dwarfs' Dinner
1 Italian sausage, about 10" long
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can fire-roasted, chopped tomatoes
1 leek, light green and white parts only, coarsely chopped
2-3 fresh roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 cups chicken broth
Microplaned zest of one lemon, plus the juice of the lemon
1Tbs. Sartain's Menu sauce (this is a smoky, spicy sauce)
Black pepper to taste (you won't need salt as the sausage is salty)
Capellini pasta (or your favorite), cooked al dente
2 halibut fillets, skin removed, if necessary
Green onion, sliced, for garnish
Using just a slick of olive oil to coat a wide frying pan (you won't need much as the sausage will provide plenty of fat), squeeze out dabs of the sausage from its casing to make perhaps two dozen tiny meatballs and brown them on both sides. When the fat has rendered from the sausage and the meat is well browned, add the garlic and cook carefully, so it softens but doesn't brown. Add the next seven ingredients, stir to mix, and cook over a low flame for about 10 minutes. It will be very liquid and soupy and it will smell like the open door to Heaven.
In the meantime, bring your pasta water to a boil with some serious salt and add the pasta. Drain and remove pasta to soup or pasta bowls. Be sure to set the table with a big spoon and a fork - you'll need both.
After simmering, turn the heat to low and push aside the ingredients in the pan to make a well for the fish fillets. Cover the pan and poach the fish in the sauce very gently, just until it is white rather than clear and it flakes apart, perhaps five minutes depending on the thickness of your fillets, turning it once gently if the fish is thick.
Serve the fish over the pasta, topped with the pan contents and garnished with the green onions. Serves 2-4.