I went to the Farmer's market yesterday, looking for inspiration for a simple dinner for my husband and me. I knew I wanted to make fish, so I headed over to PE & DD Seafood. I usually go for flounder, striped bass, cod or tuna. But today I wanted to try something new, something I rarely cook with: Monkfish.
Monkfish is a truly hideous fish. But don't judge a book by its cover. Beneath its rather repulsive exterior, the fish has a dense, pinkish-gray flesh, smooth and silky. When cooked, the fish has a firm, slightly chewy texture and a mild, clean flavor, laced with a hint of sweetness. Totally delicious.
I had some preserved summer tomato and eggplant sauce in my fridge. I decided I would make a stew of sorts. I love simmering cauliflower in tomato sauce, so I picked up a small head with tight, white florets. I grabbed some peppers, some onions, some garlic and a bunch of cilantro. This was starting to sound like a really yummy sauce for pasta, but I wanted to keep this dinner carb-free. So I picked up a spaghetti squash to substitute for noodles.
Wow. What a simple, healthy and delicious meal. A hearty, earthy stew with big, tender chunks of the delectable monkfish, sweet pepppers and onions, and a burst of bright flavor from the cilantro. Served over a bed of olive oil dressed spaghetti squash, it made the perfect weeknight dinner. I can't wait to make this dish again. Monkfish, who knew?
Monkfish Stew with Peppers, Onions and Spaghetti Squash
3/4 lb cleaned monkfish filet, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 small head cauliflower, broken into florets
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes, or to taste
1 green or red pepper, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups tomato sauce
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 small spaghetti squash
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half and scoop out seeds. Roast squash until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool, then use a fork to scrape out the insides into spaghetti-like strands. Toss squash with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a thin film of olive oil over medium heat. Add the peppers, onions and garlic and saute for about 4 minutes. Add hot pepper flakes and cook another minute or so. Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes, lowering the heat as necessary to prevent the bottom of the pan from burning. Add a splash of water if the pan seems to be getting brown. Cook until the cauliflower is almost tender. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer in a saucepan large enough to hold the monkfish, and the cauliflower. Season the monkfish with salt and pepper and add to the tomato sauce. Add about a cup of water to loosen the tomato sauce and return to a simmer. Cook the monkfish for about 3 minutes, and then add the cauliflower, pepper and onion mixture. Simmer until the monkfish is cooked through, about 10 minutes total cooking time. Add chopped cilantro and stir.
Serve monkfish stew over a bed of spaghetti squash, preferably with some hearty wholegrain bread on the side to sop up the delicious sauce.