One of the very first things I counsel people about cooking at home is to use fresh ingredients whenever possible. Use canned goods sparingly, include lower salt ingredients, and try to prep what you can yourself. That philosophy stems from the idea that eating is healthier when you know what’s going into the pot. But, living in Colorado, I realize there are exceptions, particularly when preparing fish, since the nearest ocean is 3,500 miles away. Yes, there is UPS, there’s same-day shipping, and the grocery store has fairly fresh fish, but that’s nothing compared with coastal life.
This fact should not dissuade you from cooking fish at home, and even frozen fish can turn into a lovely meal. Here, frozen mahi mahi pairs with a lusciously simple sauce when combined with fresh tomatoes and olives. Serve over pasta for a weeknight quickie.
Pasta with Mahi Mahi and Tomatoes Recipe
3 T grapeseed oil, divided
8 oil-packed anchovy fillets
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup Greek olives, pitted and sliced into quarters
1 – 12 ounce package frozen mahi mahi fillets, thawed, dried with paper towels
2 T pine nuts
1 lb pasta of choice (I used a curly tubetti here, but it’s fun to experiment with other pasta shapes)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Prepare pasta according to package directions. When it reaches al dente texture, drain, reserving one cup pasta cooking water. Toss pasta with olive oil to prevent sticking.
Heat 2 T grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Carefully add anchovies to oil (they can splatter), garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir frequently as anchovies break apart and garlic becomes golden, about 3 minutes.
Add half of tomatoes, cooking on lower heat for about 10 minutes, until tomatoes lose their shape, and pressing gently to release juices. Add remaining tomatoes, stir, and remove from heat.
In large skillet, warm 1 T oil over medium heat. Add fish fillets and brown on both sides, turning gently with a wide spatula, about 4 minutes a side. Remove to a clean plate. Let fish cool. Flake into 2 inch pieces with a fork.
Toast pine nuts in a small, dry, non-stick skillet over low heat, stirring often to prevent burning. After 3-4 minutes, nuts should be golden brown. Remove from heat.
Add pasta and reserved liquid to tomatoes. Simmer over low heat, stirring until sauce thickens. Add fish, olives, and parsley to sauce and stir gently to combine.
Serve pasta in warmed, shallow bowls. Top with pine nuts.
At first glance, Stephanie Davis, wine guru from Winacea, a wine education company, thought this dish would be light with flavor, until she read through the ingredients. The anchovies, Greek olives, and pine nuts give the recipe some biceps, which inspired her to pair it with a French rosé. Moulin de Gassac is bargain priced at $11/bottle, which also makes it a nice choice.
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Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, because living brings its own humor, angst and heroism. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished, https://www.facebook.com/EmilyKemme, or on Twitter @where she hopes you’ll find illumination of the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Vodka and recipes optional.