Friday, October 9, 2009

Pan-Roasted Striped Bass with "Ratatouille"

Happy Friday Divas!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of lunching with my new friend Molly, an organic whole foods private chef (CLICK HERE to read her food blog, Organic Spark), at The Huckleberry Cafe.  Lucky for me, the cafe is situated right next to Santa Monica Seafood, so after noshing on heirloom tomato and white bean soup and salads, I snuck next door and scooped up a bunch of goodies, including a gorgeous fillet of striped bass, a succulent, tender fish that I love, but rarely have the opportunity to work with in my kitchen.

Fresh Striped Bass Fillets

After Kuzak graced me with his presence last night (he's been swamped at work), I quickly settled on my dinner menu, inspired by the fish and my remaining farmers market purchases.  I decided to simply pan roast the bass in grapeseed oil and finish it with a little citrus in order to preserve the natural flavor of the fresh fish.  Then I came up with the idea of serving it over a ratatouille, loaded up with Thai eggplant, summer squash, shallots & cherry tomatoes, and cooked down in my cast iron skillet to add extra flavor.  All of the vegetables featured in my ratatouille were purchased from one of my favorite organic vendors at the Hollywood Farmers Market, Sage Mountain Farm.

Ratatouille in Cast Iron Pan

Continuing with my French inspired menu, after the main course, I served a salad of baby romaine tossed with a mustard and champagne vinaigrette and accompanied by La Brea bakery toasted bread smeared with Soledad Goats cheese (this recipe is forthcoming in later posts).

Did this meal need anything else?  Oh yes, the wine!  We sipped a lovely 2006 Copain Monument Tree Pinor Noir, the smoothest of their pinots, which was drinking wonderfully last night.  This meal was a true winner!

Thanks to Naomi Pomeroy of Beast for her "French Ghetto" inspiration (CLICK HERE to read about the best meal I had all year at her restaurant) and my new BDFF, Molly, for the fun foodie lunch!

Note: While I did not include this recipe in my "Simple Suppers" series because the ratatouille felt a little more challenging, this is actually quite a simple, healthy dish to prepare.  Also, the ratatouille would go wonderfully with almost any type of fish or served as a vegetable side dish to almost any meal.  For a vegan version, toss the ratatouille with beans or tofu and serve over rice! 

Also, I cooked my ratatouille in a cast iron skillet to give it an earthier flavor, but any heavy bottomed pan will work. 

Pan-Roasted Striped Bass with "Ratatouille"

2 striped bass fillets (4 oz each)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
salt & pepper

1 shallot, chopped
4 summer squash (such as yellow, zucchini, etc.), chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 Thai eggplants or 1 small eggplant, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper


To make the ratatouille, heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet or other heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.  Add the shallot and saute for a few minutes until translucent.  Add the eggplant, squash & tomatoes and saute for 7-10 minutes, or until cooked.  Then reduce the heat to low and allow to continue to cook down for another 10-20 minutes while you prepare the fish.  This will give the dish extra concentrated flavor as the tomatoes seep into the other veggies.

To make the fish, heat the grapeseed oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat.  Salt and pepper both sides of the fish.  Add to the pan and cook on each side for a few minutes until just cooked through.  Remove from heat and drizzle with the lemon juice.

To plate, place a little of the ratatouille in the bottom of the plate and top with a piece of fish.  Enjoy!

Businesses Mentioned:

Sage Mountain Farm
40630 Sage Rd.
Aguanga, CA 92544
(951) 767-1016

One of my favorite organic producers at the Hollywood Farmers Market, I always stop by Ronaldo's booth to load up on everything from eggplant and peppers, to summer squash and shallots!  I love that he always asks me how I'm going to cook what I buy from him and offers great suggestions! His booth can usually be found on the Sunset side of the market!  CLICK HERE TO VISIT THEIR WEBSITE!

Huckleberry Cafe
1014 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310) 451-2311

A great new cafe specializing in farm to table ingredients and healthy fare, specialties include their homemade bread and pastries.  Everything they serve is made on site and boasts a variety of high quality including organic flour.  CLICK HERE TO VISIT THEIR WEBSITE!

Santa Monica Seafood
1000 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 393-5244

Other than Fish King in Glendale, this is the best seafood store in the greater Los Angeles area, offering a huge variety of fresh fish and seafood as well as a cafe.  CLICK HERE TO VISIT THEIR WEBSITE!

La Brea Bakery
Original Bakery:
624 South La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 939-6813

Nancy Silverton's famed artisanal bakery, their breads can be found at retailers including Whole Foods!  CLICK HERE TO VISIT THEIR WEBSITE!

Soledad Goats
6501 Backus Rd.
Mojave, CA 93501

Producers of award-winning goat cheese (literally the BEST fresh chevre I have ever tasted), they can be found selling their artisanal cheeses at the Hollywood Farmers Market on Sunday.  Stop by their booth for a free sample and I promise you won't be able to leave without bringing some home with you!

Source for Ingredients:

striped bass from Santa Monica Seafood

organic cherry tomatoes, organic Thai eggplant, organic summer squash & organic shallots from Sage Mountain Farm at the Hollywood Farmers Market

Music on Tap:

Soundgarden - Superunknown

After witnessing the reunification of Temple of the Dog, the supergroup made up of Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam & Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron of Soundgarden, I've been on a total grunge kick!  Released in 1994, Superunknown is Soundgarden's first album that debuted at number one on the charts and garnered several Grammy awards for the band.  A true classic album that still holds up!  Personal favorite track is Fell on Black Days!

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