Wilted Spinach Ingredients:
8 c. raw baby spinach, densely packed
2 c. water (for wilting spinach)
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. shallots, peeled & finely minced (about 2 medium-sized shallots)
2 c. mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 4 large mushrooms)
1/4 c. dry sherry
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1 lb. haddock fillet, purchased as 2 long, wide, 1/2 lb. pieces with skins intact
4 Tbsp. dry white wine (i.e., Chardonnay) (2 Tbsp. white wine per fillet side)
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 Tbsp. lemon juice per fillet side)
1 c. pecans, crushed (with the flat, smooth end of a meat mallet) & lightly toasted
Directions: Evenly spread pecans onto a clean, smooth, non-porous surface (preferably a non-breakable, silicone cutting board) & cover with plastic wrap. Use the flat, smooth side of a meat mallet to pound the pecans into uniform little pieces. Pecans should only be crushed, not pulverized into oblivion. ;) Toast them on an aluminum foil-covered baking tray in the oven at 350°F until light golden brown. Watch carefully as nuts tend to toast very quickly, & you don't want to end up with charred cinders. ;) Let cool slightly, transfer to a small bowl, & then set aside.
In a large, square grill pan, sauté baby potatoes & carrots on both sides in 1 Tbsp. olive oil on medium heat until tender & grill marks appear. Pour 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice over top, & season with salt & pepper. Carrots will cook faster, so you'll be removing them long before before the potatoes. Next, add squash, which cooks even faster than the carrots, pouring the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil & 1 Tbsp. lemon juice on top. Grill squash on both sides. Be sure to watch the vegetables carefully, so they don't burn or blacken too much. Flip veggies with tongs. (A large spatula will work, but it's not as effective for exact vegetable placement, which helps to ensure even grilling.) You'll probably have to cook the vegetables in batches, but don't worry, there'll be sufficient olive oil in the pan to cook both the vegetables and the fish. :) When vegetables are ready, remove from heat & transfer them to separate serving plates by vegetable category.
While vegetables are cooking, make the sauce: In a medium-sized sauce pot, sauté garlic, scallions, & bay leaf in olive oil on low heat until tender. Deglaze with white wine. Add all of the fresh herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme, & rosemary), followed soon after by the water, butter, salt, & pepper. Watch sauce carefully to make sure it doesn't burn while you're flipping the vegetables. ;) Reduce liquid by about half (or more), remove from heat, & set aside. Let cool slightly & then discard bay leaf.
In a large (12-13") sauté pan, gently wilt raw baby spinach in 2 c. water on low heat. Drain spinach using a sieve, transfer to a large bowl, & set aside. In the same sauté pan, sauté shallots in 1 tsp. olive oil on medium-low heat until tender. Then add mushrooms & continue to cook until they start to turn slightly golden brown around the edges. Deglaze with sherry & lemon juice. Reduce liquid until it's only a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, transfer to the bowl that contains the spinach, season with salt & pepper, & gently combine.
Next, place the fish fillets on a plate & pour 2 Tbsp. wine & 1 Tbsp. lemon juice onto the upwards-facing side. Using a large spatula, transfer 1 fish fillet to the same grill pan you used (above) for the grilled vegetables, flipping fish onto the side you just marinated with wine & lemon juice. Grill haddock fillets, one at a time, for 4 minutes per side. Be sure to repeat the same marination procedure (i.e., 2 Tbsp. wine + 1 Tbsp. lemon juice) for the other side of the fish fillets before you flip it again. This way the fish will be adequately infused with the wine & lemon flavors. (If you do the reverse, the wine & lemon juice will just sit on top on the fish while you cook the plain side of the fish in olive oil, versus actually cooking into the fish. It will reek strongly of alcohol too. Gives the expression "drink like a fish" a new meaning, eh? LOL.)
When fish starts to turn a light golden brown, check the fish with a knife or fork to test if it's done. The flesh should be soft & easily flake from the fish skin. Let cool slightly. Evenly spread toasted pecans onto a clean, nonporous surface board (i.e., silicone cutting board) & then, using both hands, gently roll each fillet in toasted pecans. Cover your hands first with latex/rubber gloves if you don't want them to get fishy.
Meal Assembly: Divide up spinach, fish fillets, & each group of grilled vegetables into 4 even portions. Place similar kinds of vegetables in groups around the circumference of each plate, according to personal preference. Place each bed of spinach in the center, adding the fish on top. Top each portion of fish with sauce. For additional artistic flair, garnish each plate with edible flowers (i.e., I used pre-packaged culinary orchids) & parsley sprigs, if desired.
Yield: 4 servings.
Chef's Notes: It's much easier to cook each fish fillet whole & then divide into equal portions after you've finished cooking them. The skin will soften & be immeasurably much easier to slice into. (Keeping the skin on during cooking will help keep the fish moist.) Remove the whole fish fillets from the grill pan, using 2 spatulas if necessary, transfer to a nonporous cutting surface, & then use a sharp knife to cut each fillet in two.