Monday, October 05, 2009

Lemony dinner in early autumn

A golden, early October day, last days of summer waving goodbye, a touch of warmth left over, fragile and precious. A day for lemons, to secure the sun for the months to come. Dinner for six, mostly light appetites: it would be my lemon and rucola risotto; flounder, with chopped parsley, coriander, capers, lemon; sorrel. Everything except for the arborio rice, but including the butter, from our local farmers' market, still replete with gorgeous produce these days. I decided to serve everything together: the lemon and rucola risotto tastes a bit like sorrel, and I thought it would be good as an accompaniment to the fish - and vice versa.

Lemon and rucola risotto: melt the onion in butter and oil, add the grated rind of two unwaxed, washed lemons; add the rice, salt it, and make the risotto as normal (I used a vegetable stock, but a chicken stock is fine), progressively adding the juice of both lemons as well as the stock, and handfuls of chopped rucola. I stopped the risotto before it was finished, to make the fish at the last minute once the guests arrived. To finish the risotto, turn off the flame, add a good dollop of butter and some oil, salt and pepper to taste, and cover. I normally add parmigiano but not this time, since it was to be eaten with fish.

In the meantime, I had marinated the fish for a half hour or so with lemon and a mixture of finely chopped parsley, coriander and salted, rinsed capers. Some of that mix I put in a small bowl with lemon juice and olive oil, to serve as a salsa verde. Then I melted butter in a pan, added the washed, coarsely chopped sorrel, and added the fish. I cooked it over a low flame, and finished the risotto. Once the fish was ready, I plated it, catching the sorrel, and reduced the sauce with some prosecco which everyone was drinking, added some pepper and salt, and poured it over the fish on each plate. I served the rice on the same plate, and à table people helped themselves to the salsa verde. The dishes complemented each other in colour - white, yellow, green - and taste. The combination of all these herbs - rucola, parsley, coriander, sorrel - was lovely, and the resulting meal rather sophisticated, light and satisfying. No one wanted anything else after - just ice cream.