Saturday, August 27, 2011

Trout Pasta Pomodoro

Kristin and I are doing our best to eat generally more healthily, and part of doing so involves adding some more fish to our diet.  Now granted, pasta with cheese over it is not exactly ideal, but this was still a nice, light, fresh summer meal.  I got my inspiration from a similar Trout dish in Cooking Light, but opted to make it into a pasta and the "tomato topping" into a sauce so that the dish would be more of a meal.  It ended up really fantastic, and I'll definitely make it again.

Our ingredients are simple and fresh.  Trout is the star of the show - you can use a lot or a little, but make sure it's fresh and - preferably - sustainably farmed.  The sauce is based on fresh cherry tomatoes, backed up by some bacon, white wine, fresh basil, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Grate some cheese over the top at the end if you desire - we used Asiago to very nice results.

First thing's first, we're going to harvest a lot of flavor from not a lot of bacon.  Cut 2-3 ounces down small and get it rendering in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat.

While that's rendering, get your veggies ready.  Dicing the onion is mandatory, as is removing the little green stems from your cherry tomatoes.  Also mince the garlic, or just be ready to wield your garlic press with extreme prejudice when the time comes.

I don't care what Alton Brown says about unitaskers in this instance - I adore my garlic press.

Mmm, bacon.  Once it's getting cooked, pull it out of the pan and set aside for a few minutes.  We'll get the veggies going in the awesomely flavorful stuff left at the bottom of the pan.

Dump those veggies right in.  Medium-high heat is fine, as we actually want the veggies to cook pretty quickly.

We want them to cook quickly because the cherry tomatoes will pop after a few minutes and release lots of liquid, quickly turning themselves into the beginnings of a sauce.  If you want it chunkier, just let them alone once they've popped.  If you prefer a little smoother texture, go ahead and crush them up a bit with the back of a stirring spoon, a potato masher, or whatever takes your fancy.

Now's the time to amp up the flavor.  Chop up some fresh basil, and add it to the sauce along with your white wine and that bacon you've been holding onto.  You didn't eat all the bacon, did you?  It's up to you what to do with the rest of the bottle of wine...I favor drinking it with the finished product.

Before long your sauce's flavors will really have melded.  Reduce it just a bit, then we'll add some starchy pasta water later to return some body.

In the meantime, it's time to grill some fish.  You can broil it or do it in a pan if you like, but I got a cast-iron grill-pan for my birthday (thanks, mom!) and it's fantastic.  All a great fish like trout needs is some salt and plenty of fresh black pepper.

While you're at it, cook your pasta, if you haven't already started.

2-3 minutes per side on the grill pan and it's beautifully done.  If you don't have a fish spatula, your trout may fall all to pieces as you remove it from the pan.  Do your best.  Really, it's perfectly tasty to just flake the fish over the pasta anyway, but sometimes it's nice to keep the pieces whole for the sake of presentation.

When your pasta is still al-dente, go ahead and mix it and a bit of pasta water into the sauce, and let it finish there for a couple of minutes.  It'll absorb a whole lot of flavor.

Now add that fish right on top.

And, if you're into that kind of thing, garnish with grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese and/or some more fresh Basil.  Serve immediately, and don't forget about that wine you opened.

Recipe: Trout Pasta Pomodoro

Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 30 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 6-8

  • 1 pound fresh Trout
  • 2-3 oz Bacon, chopped
  • 24 oz Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 2-4 cloves Garlic, minced 
  • 1/2 cup White Wine
  • 16 oz Bowtie Pasta
  • 4-6 leaves Fresh Basil
  • Parmesan or Asiago Cheese to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste 
Cook Pasta to al-dente according to directions on box.

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, render chopped bacon over medium-high heat 3-4 minutes until cooked through.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Dice onion and mince garlic.  Remove stems from tomatoes.  All onion, garlic, and tomatoes to pan with bacon drippings and cook 3-5 minutes over medium-high heat until tomatoes pop their skins.

Crush tomatoes down if desired.  Add bacon, basil, and white wine to sauce and continue cooking 10-20 minutes until flavors are well melded.

Season trout lightly with salt and plenty of ground black pepper.  Cook 2-3 minutes per side on a heavy grill pan until fish flakes easily with a fork.  Set aside until serving.

When pasta is al-dente, add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water to sauce and mix well.

Serve trout over pasta and sauce.  Garnish with cheese and/or additional basil to taste.

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