My career has me leading a somewhat non-traditional lifestyle. Instead of the 9-5 routine than many are familiar with, I often leave my house in the early morning and don’t return until late at night. My days are usually packed full of variety, but I have no concept of coming home for dinner at 6pm every night.
However…I love meals that I can make ahead for those nights (usually once or twice a week) when I AM planning to be home. As much as I love to cook, I love the option of coming home and not having to think of what to create for dinner. When I think of things that can be made ahead of time, casseroles and crock-pot meals are usually are at the forefront. However, I typically don’t really love cassseroles – mainly because I usually get bored them before they’re done since I have no idea how to cook for less than 20 people at a time- and my crock-pot requires a ladder to access so I have to REALLY want to use it. Besides, I’m fooling myself into thinking it’s summer and crock-pots make me think of winter.
So how does this tie into sole florentine? As you all know by now, I love fish, but am very particular about it and have never attempted to prepare it ahead of time. In my opinion, fish is the ultimate fast food (typically 10-15 minutes to go from raw to cooked) so there’s not exactly a lot of time to shave off. I usually just broil or grill my fish, maybe making a sauce if I have the time, but by the time I usually get home spending any longer than 15 minutes total of prep work is not of interest…which leads to repetition and then boredom. When I came across this recipe for sole florentine in a Cooks Illustrated that can be made up to 24-hrs in advance, I knew I had to try it out….and now you should too, since you probably have almost everything you need and would just have to make a quick visit your favourite fish monger.
That’s sole (although red snapper or tilapia would probably be good), butter, shallots, garlic, heavy cream, cornstarch (late to the photoshoot…oops), frozen spinach, parmesan cheese, thyme, and Ritz crackers.
To start things off, defrost the spinach.
Dissolve some cornstarch in a bit of the cream and set it aside.
Heat up some butter.
And chop up a few shallots.
Introduce the shallots to the butter, and watch the sparks fly.
Chop up some garlic and some fresh thyme.
And instead of trying to get your camera to focus and adjust the lighting on the stove, concentrate on not burning the shallots and garlic.
Oh well, the show must go on.
Cream makes everything better.
And cornstarch makes everything thick, including ones waistline.
Which is why we’re adding spinach. Heavy cream is negated by leafy greens, so add 2 packages to even the score.
After a few minutes of whisking over a moderate flame, the sauce is made. No matter what your cardiologist says, salt + pepper will make it better.
Squeeze the moisture out of the spinach, and combine it with some of the sauce and a healthy amount of parmesan.
Pat the fish filets dry with paper towels, and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Mix up the spinach filling, and mound some in the middle of each filet.
Roll everything up, like the little presents that they are.
Place seam-side down in a buttered baking dish.
You didn’t think I would waste the leftover cream sauce, did you?
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
But before you bake it…
Make cracker crumbs. Since I have no internal aggression, I used the mini-processor.
All dressed up with nowhere to go!
Except my stomach.
No apologies needed, due to the large proportion of spinach.
I could get used to this whole make-ahead lifestyle.