Saturday, July 24, 2010

roasted grouper with mushrooms and asparagus

yesterday i had to drive all the way to springfield, so i got up extra early, dropped off my daughter to daycare and by the time i returned my back was hurting, my legs were cramping and i was starving. the traffic was horrible getting back, but i didn't want to stop to eat fearing i wouldn't make it by the time the daycare closed. i realized the fridge was mostly empty and there it is, an unpleasant day all-around. we're all busy. we have long, exhausting days, kids who never tire and zero time for slaving in a hot kitchen. even if we enjoy cooking, there are days when everything seems dead set against a hot meal. i have a few go-to menus set aside for that kind of days. they're not take-out menus. they're dishes you can cook blindfolded and faster than delivery. a lot of them involve pasta, which is fine on a rainy day, but with these insane melting temps i wanted something lighter. in the morning you move some fish from the freezer to the fridge. that's your prep work. when you get home you season it and you put it in the oven. by the time you've washed up, dinner's ready. afterward, you can have one of the lovely peaches you can find now. the day has just gotten better.

this is all you do: preheat the oven to 400F. line a  big tray with aluminum foil. trim the asparagus to get rid of the woody part. use a moist paper towel to gently wipe the mushrooms, and halve them if necessary. toss them with a bit of oil and vinegar. i use more than one combo, sometime hazelnut oil/sherry vinegar, sometime olive oil/balsamic, depending on mood and availability. use whatever you have on hand. you need just enough so that everything is coated, but there's no liquid pooling around. season with salt and pepper and lay in a single layer on the baking sheet, leaving room for the fish. put it in the oven. get the fish out and rinse it in cold water if needed. i found a very fresh grouper that still had bone fragments from hasty filleting. dry it on paper towels, then sprinkle evenly with salt, pepper, sweet paprika, garlic powder and dried basil. pour about 1 ts olive oil and work it with your fingers all over. squeeze a few drops of lemon juice and again spread it with your fingers. if your fish still has skin on one side, that's the side you lay it on the sheet, don't bother removing it. the mushrooms and asparagus should have a five-minute head start when you put the fish next to them. cook an additional 15 minutes.

my daughter loves this dish. she gets very excited every time because she gets to do all the sprinkling of condiments on the fish. she's very proud when she eats something she helped cook. the mushrooms absorb a lot of flavor, and they're plump and very juicy, and she likes to mop up the juices with bread. the asparagus is crisp and nutty and it all works together. delicious, efortless and healthy. and because you lined the sheet with foil, you have no pans to wash. it all sounds good to me.


  1. I can understand why your daughter loves this dish, I would love too. Simple and fast but great.

  2. Too easy, and just too good! Love your photos as always, Dana, and that's a nice recipe to have up my sleeve for hectic days...thanks!

  3. oh,i love this dish,dana,simple is always the best!

  4. thanks, nina!

    makka, thank you. i'm so grateful she eats fish now, it took me almost 2 years of rejected plates to get here.

    celia, thanks a lot. when i have a little more time i do this with chicken and potatoes. i give the chicken a 15 minute head start, then i put in quartered young potatoes and i roast another 45 minutes at 425F. i know you have a roman dish and that's a great way to go, but i like how everything gets crispy on the outside and stays juicy inside.

    alison, thanks. i wholehearteadly agree!


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