Pan-seared monkfish with citrus olive salsa, cavolo nero with crimini mushrooms and garlic
Monkfish fillets are briefly seared in a cast-iron skillet with olive oil and sea salt, then finished in a preheated 375 F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until a knife slides through cleanly. The salsa is simply 1 shallot, minced and macerated in a mixture of lemon juice and orange juice, along with chopped orange segments, pitted Moroccan olives, toasted fennel seeds and finely chopped garlic scapes.
Cavolo nero (Brassica oleracea acephala for the botanically inclined), otherwise known as black cabbage, is a vegetable which Italians generally associate with Tuscany. It’s a leafy cabbage that doesn’t form heads, but rather resembles palm fronds, with deep greenish black leaves that can be up to a meter long. It has pronounced ribs and its surfaces have a distinctive bubbly appearance.
It’s a primary ingredient in minestra di pane, a hearty soup made with beans, winter root vegetables and sturdy slices of salt-free Tuscan bread. However, it improves dramatically with age, so much that when it’s reheated and served the next day it’s called ribollita (“reboiled”), and is one of the few reasons to get excited about winter.
I picked up a couple of gorgeous heads at the market this weekend. One bunch was for dinner tonight, the other will be featured in a pasta dish later in the week.
Substitute kale, beet greens, spinach or any other type of greens that catches your fancy.
Total cooking time for tonight’s dinner: 30 minutes, including prep.
One bunch cavolo nero, trimmed (separate leaves and stalks; chop stalks coarsely; slice leaves into a chiffonade)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 medium crimini mushrooms, sliced (1)
kosher salt, to taste
freshly milled pepper, to taste
fresh oregano, chopped
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until it takes on a bit of color. Add mushrooms and sauté until softened. Immediately add cavolo nero to the pan along with a couple of tablespoons of water. Add more water if the pan seems too dry. Cook until cabbage wilts and the liquid evaporates. Check seasoning; stir in oregano. Finish with a couple of pats of unsalted butter or drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil and serve immediately.
(1) — Button mushrooms from your local supermarket are good substitutes.