Recently there have been a lot of recipes and tips for using ingredients already in the pantry and freezer. Call it quarantine cooking. It’s also a good idea not to waste food and use up what is there before it passes its Best By Date. This pesto recipe was a marvelous find for I never use up all the herbs and greens I buy. I can whiz all the leftover greens and freeze a batch for later use. And since I keep frozen fish fillets on hand, it’s a no-brainer to just bring out the panko breadcrumbs because I seldom have white bread in the house. I didn’t use the tartar sauce that came with the recipe, instead I had on hand some Thai chili-lime sauce. This being Lent, I paired the noodles with fish, but you could substitute grilled shrimp or chicken or pork tonkatsu.
1 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
1 cup chopped basil
1 cup chopped parsley or spinach
1 cup chopped chives or arugula (rocket salad)
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
Zest and juice of 2 limes
1 Thai chile seeded and chopped (add seeds if you want more heat)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice bran oil or vegetable oil
2-4 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
8 oz rice sticks (pad thai thickness)
In the workbowl of a food processor, add the greens, garlic, lime juice and zest, chile, olive oil, rice bran oil, and salt to taste. Process until pureed and emulsified.
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and toast the sesame seeds until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Boil a large pot of water. Add the rice noodles and bring to a boil again. Cook 5-7 minutes or until the noodles are soft but pleasantly chewy. Drain them in a colander and rinse in cold water. Drain. Pour the drained noodles in a large bowl and pour 1/3 of the pesto over them. Gently toss. Add more pesto to taste. Plate the noodles and top with toasted sesame seeds. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Note: The pesto freezes well if you’re not going to use it right away.
Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish (from America’s Test Kitchen)
4 haddock or cod fillets, 1 1/2 inch thick
Salt and pepper
4 slices white sandwich bread, torn into pieces (sub 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 minced shallot
2 tablespoons minced parsley
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish (I used wasabi)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup plus 5 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced capers
2 tablespoon sweet pepper relish
1 minced shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Prepare to bake. Heat the oven to 350˚F. Put a rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
Make the crumb coating. In the bowl of a food processor, put the bread pieces, melted butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pulse 8×1 second bursts until you get a coarse crumb. Spread the crumbs in an ungreased rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes then put into a pie plate. Add 1/2 minced shallot and parsley. Mix well and set aside. Increase the oven heat to 425˚F.
Make the egg wash. In a large bowl, put the eggs, mayonnaise, horseradish, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. Whisk until well combined. Add 5 tablespoons flour. Whisk until well combined. Scrape into a pie plate and set aside.
Dredge the fillets and bake. In a third pie plate, add 1/4 cup flour and set aside. Pat dry the fillets and salt and pepper them lightly. Dredge each fillet in the flour, then the egg wash, and finally the crumb coating. Pat generously with crumbs. Put on prepared rack. Bake 18-20 minutes or until the fish fillets reach an internal temperature of 140˚F.
Make the Tartar Sauce. While the fish is baking, make the sauce. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.