N o matter how many times I ty to deny my rots, they always return to come bite me. Well, in a good way. Rather, instead of biting, make me want to bite into something reminiscent of what I was accustomed to prior to m transfer to Virginia. I’m actually starting to miss Italian food and I don’t know why. I miss the flavors and the traditions; the story behind why what was made was made. I was browsing recipes of my heritage and came across one that I would have never recalled if I hadn’t seen it: coccoi. Coccoi is a traditional Sardinia bread that is pretty to look at, but, you really don’t want to eat because the crust is so hard. This is to keep it in shape of the object it is representing even though the interior is soft and rewarding but, say, you have a goose and you know that the neck is barely going to have soft flesh within. A great way to use coccoi is to dry it out and use it in bread soup, mazzamurru. Bread soup, like panzanella, is popular in Italy. Each region has its own specialty and variation. For example, take this recipe.
Originally its chicken (but I used fish due to the no meat thing) prepared in the style of Florence, Italy. Simple. If you haven’t noticed, Italy is one of those countries that simply dub the name of its cuisine after exactly what it is or what it symbolizes. You see that a lot with the pasta names representing what they look like: fiori means flowers, farfalle means butterflies, orecchiette means ears, stelle means stars, etc. It’s nice to get a break from Asian food which sometimes their meaning can be a little ambiguous. Chicken Florentine has been recreated time after time after time again; however, the essence is still there. By that, I mean that the sole ingredient of spinach is there and I think that, alone, makes Florentine chicken, well, Florentine chicken or fish in my case.
Florence is known for its abundance of fresh and local produce, which explains why the original recipe calls for fresh spinach – not frozen. Of course, fresh spinach isn’t always available or affordable to some people so they opt for the frozen and that’s fine. Sometimes the fresh spinach looks atrocious – especially at Kroger – so I opt for bagged if not then frozen. I couldn’t find the original-original recipe for Florentine Chicken, but, from recollection of the days I ordered it from a restaurant, it was an over dried chicken breast stuffed with spinach, accompanied by rice.Let’s say, do over. Do over! I’m not sure if that is the correct method, stuffing and not just laying, because I found it several ways and recipes that even place the breast on the bed of spinach.
Well. I could have stuffed the fish, but, I didn’t. It would have been easy, yet, for the sake of elegance, I just laid the trout on the bed of spinach with some wild rice as an accompaniment. You could even serve the dish with pasta or potatoes if that’s your preference. There is cream in the dish, but, to add more iron since I need it, I replicated the creamy texture with smashed white/cannellini beans. I’m also not sure if there was basil in the original recipe, but, how can one go wrong with basil? Essentially in regards to this dish, I took a trip to Florence and brought back my take upon its essence.
Trout Florentine 1 5 oz steelhead trout or salmon filet (Or other fish of your preference; sole would be fantastic as well) ½ tbsp cornstarch Salt and pepper to taste 2 cups of spinach 3 sundried tomatoes, diced ¼ onion, halved & thinly slivered ¼ cup cooked cannellini beans 1 tbsp white wine 1 tsp nondairy margarine 1 small clove of garlic, minced Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn Salt and pepper to taste Preheat the broiler in your oven. Dust the filet with cornstarch and season with salt and pepper. Spray the top of the filet lightly with nonstick cooking spray and place under the broiler until golden. In a small pot, melt the butter and smash the white beans, cooking until it dissolves. In a pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, sauté the onions and the garlic until soft. Deglaze with the white wine. Add the spinach, diced sundried tomatoes and toss. Once the spinach begins to wilt, add the sauce, basil, salt and pepper. Add a little bit more water if it appears too thick, but, it shouldn’t. To serve, use tongs to place the spinach in a pile on a dish, saving any loose liquid. Place the filet on the pile, and pour the remaining juice on top of the trout. Accompany the meal by earthy wild rice or even roasted red potatoes.