This may sound like more work than some of our previous projects, however it can be done in stages and you will be done before you know it. The summer of 2010 has not been the best fishing season in recent years, partially due to new restrictions limiting size and amount of the catch, so I have been finding different things to do with what is available, local and fresh. After a steady diet of swordfish and scallops I decided to look no further than our flat little friend,, the fillet of Sole. I like it for its versatility, consistency in size and subtle flavors. Easily pan fried with a lemon, caper sauce or lightly breaded and baked, it cooks quick and is a nice source of protein.
I knew I had to make something a little special, since Jane had been digging in the rocky shore line to provide our appetizer, so I entered Zeek's Creek fish and bait shack with thoughts of Bluefish, or Bass. Finding none of the previously mentioned delicacies I perused the usual suspects and thought the Sole looked the happiest among the clan. Right next to the sole was some of Zeek's smoked Bluefish, lightly smoked and studded with peppercorns,,,, a light bulb went off in my head,,and sole stuffed with smoked bluefish, spinach and cream cheese was born!
Now all this was going to need was a sauce and I was on my way, since I had a large bag of basil from the farmers market, I thought it sounded like a good time to make some pesto for the winter and use a little on the fish tonight.
Making pesto is not hard and does not take long, it freezes well and is so much less expensive to make than purchase, plus you can tailor the taste to your liking. I find most commercial pesto's to be a weak in the garlic department and for me, a good garlic base defines a good pesto.
1 Lbs basil leaves, large stems discarded
1/2 cup toasted crumbled walnuts, pine nuts or try different nuts..Almonds...Pistachios..
5 cloves peeled garlic
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt..pepper to taste
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Wash the basil well, pat dry and place in blender or food processor, add remaining ingredients and pulse/grind until you have a smooth paste. You may need to add more olive oil and you will need to push down the side with a rubber spatula for an even grind. In the end you will have around 2 cups of pesto which you can put up in portion size containers and freeze for the long winter. When storing, be sure to cover the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil,, it will help prevent browning. If browning does occur the top layer can be tossed out, or mixed in, depending on your mood and the quality of the company you are feeding.
On to the main course,, stuffing the fish. For starters mix 4 oz of room temperature cream cheese with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup shredded smoked bluefish.. you can substitute smoked salmon, oysters or trout, juice of 1/4 lemon and some chives, salt and pepper to taste keeping in mind the bluefish is peppery, set aside.
Blanch a large handful of spinach and let cool
Now take your sole filet's and cut them down the middle, there will be a natural split, cut along it, one will be larger than the other. Lay your fish skin side up, there is no skin, however you can the marking of where it once was, sprinkle with salt and pepper and put down a few leafs of wilted spinach, keeping in line with the fillet. Then "spread" on the bluefish/cream cheese mixture, it will be thick, you can make little logs and press them down onto the spinach. Do not make it too thick, remember you are going to be rolling this up, so the filling will add up. From smallest to largest end, roll the fish in a pinwheel and place in buttered oven dish, avoid placing too close and give the fish room to cook. Give them a splash of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice to finish. Now you are ready for the oven, set to 375 degrees, bake covered in tin foil for 10 minutes, uncover and bake for 8-10 minutes more and you ready to eat!
For service you can either top the fish with pesto, or as I did, serve under the sole,, I like the way the pinwheel looks on a plate, so keep on cooking and check back here for more food from my table.
One side note,, if you make extra bluefish/cream cheese mix, it is wonderful on toasted pita or a ritz cracker!