Kitchen Seasons, easy recipes for seasonal organic food, 160 pp.
by Ross Dobson
Hardie Grant Books, 2007
Cooking on page 32
This isn’t my cookbook, but I wish it were.
Poor John and I are on another extended road trip—this time from Canberra to Perth. We camped the first night and then stopped in Warrnambool, Victoria, to enjoy a couple of nights with Jan and Russ Sessions.
Jan got this cookbook in a supermarket giveaway—a spend-$30-and get-a-free-cookbook deal. Good grief, how did I miss that?
I had never heard of Ross Dobson, but he’s apparently a well-known food stylist and writer. This cookbook is a winner. I swear I could make and enjoy every recipe.
Before we arrived, Jan went through her cookbooks to find a tempting page-32 recipe for us to try. What a gem this is! I wish there had been better lighting for the photos, but that’s the way things turn out when dinner is ready after the sun has set.
Recipe—Prosciutto-wrapped fish with walnut pesto and balsamic tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
24 cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 slices of prosciutto
4 white fish fillets, of 200 g each
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 handful of flat leaf parsley leaves
1 handful of mint leaves
2 handfuls of basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
100 g walnuts
1 garlic clove, crushed
175 ml light olive oil
50 g finely grated Parmesan cheese
To make the walnut pesto, put the herbs, walnuts, garlic and olive oil in a food processor and process until chunky. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Put 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over high heat and add the tomatoes. Cook for 2–3 minutes, shaking the pan. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pan with some sea salt and black pepper, cover with a lid and shake the pan over high heat for 1 minute, until the tomatoes soften and start to split.
Remove the tomatoes and wipe the pan clean. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around the centre of each fish cutlet. Add the remaining oil to the pan and cook the fish cutlets for 2–3 minutes on each side, until the prosciutto is golden and crispy.
Serve the fish with the balsamic tomatoes and spoon the pesto on the side.
How it played out
A lot of love, creativity and enthusiasm went into this dish.
First off, we drove 30 kilometres to Port Fairy to raid Jan’s son’s veggie garden. We hit it pretty hard because we noticed a mouse enjoying the bounty (so that accounts for the teeth marks in the tomatoes)! Our haul included three kinds of tomatoes, three kinds of zucchini, beetroot, cucumbers, corn, dill and flat-leaf parsley.
Jan and Russ are going back tomorrow for another foray, and also hoping to harvest some baby parsnips, red radishes and horseradish.
We were so exhausted after our work as ‘farm hands’ that we stopped on the way back to have a fine and not-too-filling lunch at the Basalt Cafe.
Next stop was a fishmonger’s in Warrnambool. Given that the fillets were to be wrapped in prosciutto, we settled on some nice-looking and not-too-thick pieces of flake (shark).
We had a final stop at a supermarket for walnuts and eight slices of prosciutto. Russ figured, and rightly so, that the fish should be evenly wrapped and that two slices per fillet should do the trick.
We made the pesto first, using all homegrown herbs, two cloves of garlic and 125 ml of olive oil, which was plenty. We added about an extra tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the tomatoes—we love balsamic—but otherwise followed the recipe.
Every aspect of this recipe was straightforward and easy to make, and we all felt smug that so many of the ingredients were homegrown.
Dinner was so sensational that we talked about it for the rest of the evening and brought it up again over breakfast. Every component was perfect—the fish, the tomatoes, the pesto. We served it with baked potatoes and awalde’s equally outstanding Light Eggplant / Zucchini Parmigiana—made twice in two nights.
Food doesn’t get any better than this. Try it! You’ll love it!
P.S. Be sure to check out my travel blog.