My herd, Ian -my partner, Goldie-our baby, and I, decided Friday evening that as soon as the baby woke up in the morning we would head to market to beat the crowds and the heat, and then not leave the house for the rest of the day. It was expected to be one of those 88 degree 75% humidity situations. A real buzz kill in the kitchen. Aside from whipping up some peach Popsicles and a turkey sandwich I haven’t cooked all week. Maybe it’s the heat, lack of inspiration, or lack of sleep (teething baby).
Today however it seemed like inspiration was everywhere. My partner is a farmer and he often brings home little handfuls of this and that from his family farm and I make use. Today I looked over and caught a glimpse of these beautiful little tomatoes. I popped one in my mouth and it was just so perfect, so sweet, so summer. There were just about a handful so I thought maybe a salad. We had just had a pretty hardy lunch earlier and agreed that dinner should be somewhat healthy. Two whole fish made their way home with us from market, so we knew the evenings main attraction, and that it was going to be light, fresh, simple, and prepared by Ian. So it was then my duty to prepare a side dish to suit. I often make a grain salad of farro or wheat or spelt berries with feta, currants, walnuts and a cumin vinaigrette. I asked him if something like that would work with how he was thinking of preparing the fish…And then he started going through the spice cabinet delighted and said that he thought, “cumin & fish go great together!” I had on hand the feta, some quinoa, and of course my handful of sweet tomatoes. I stayed with my flavors for my vinaigrette: cumin, olive oil, honey, lemon, red wine vinegar and a pinch of chili.
On one side of the kitchen, I plugged in the rice cooker and threw in the quinoa to cook while I prepped the rest of the salad. Halving the tomatoes and prepping the dressing. He was on the other side of the kitchen toasting enough cumin seed for mine and his recipes. I tossed my toasted seeds into the grinder while he reserved his to go into the mortal & pestle, along with about 6 other things. I did see dried lemon grass go in but I missed the rest (he’s famous for his spice blends). He rubbed the whole fish down with the blend after cutting small slits on the sides of each fish and then gave each a pan sear to crisp up the skin in the cast iron that had been anointed with a good glug of avocado oil. My quinoa tomato salad was composed long enough before the fish was done in order for me to change the baby and set up her seat at the table with us.
Tonight was only her second time at the table in her own seat. (Her first being a few nights ago at a dinner party at Grammy’s house) We just began to use one of those seats that attaches the table. So, tonight was our first time at home seated all together at the table!! She’s an exclusively breast fed 6 1/2 month old who is just beginning to dabble with foods, tonight she dined on homemade applesauce. The table was set with plates and the fish arrived on the table on a sheet tray. We flaked white chunks of flesh and crispy skin off of the fish with our fingers and never really used our plates except for the humble pile of quinoa that was studded with sweet tomato gems. There was a red snapper and a Bronzini. We exchanged opinions and comparisons about texture and flavor of the two fish. I occasionally fed Goldie tiny little spoonfuls of applesauce while she scrunched up her nose and closed her eyes and Ian wiped her face. Each fish eventually had been picked clean and Ian grabbed the bowl of quinoa and suggested that we polish it off, since there was just a few spoonfuls left. every morsel that had been prepared was eaten and I was proud of my little salad I threw together. It stood out next to his glorious fish and was definitely not an afterthought.
About 2 1/2 c cooked quinoa (3/4c pre cooked)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
4 oz feta
Dressing: combine all in jar, shake. Add dressing a little at a time, may not use it all.
6 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP red wine vin
1 tsp cumin
juice of half lemon
pinch chili flake
1 tsp honey
1 shallot diced
1/2 tsp dried garlic flake
s & p