I was searching through some Italian food blogs this week and the ingredients in this recipe immediately caught my interest until I realized that this meal is an exercise in contradictions... healthy fish enveloped in less-than-heart-healthy puff pastry; quick and easy yet oh-so-impressive; and crispy and flaky outside yet soft, tart and luscious inside. I was pretty sure it would be a hit with the kids (pastry and mascarpone make everything better, as we all know) but wasn't sure how it would go over with Q, who had to bike for three hours later that night. Bottom line: I set aside any reservations and decided to go for it. After all, just a few weeks ago, when Carole and I had spent the afternoon together making cupcakes, we had both decided that we needed to work on our pastry skills. This provided the justification I was looking for to test my skills while also indulging in such a decadent and rich meal mid-week.
The recipe was extremely simple to prepare--the hardest part was remembering to defrost the puff pastry in advance (and no, I didn't make it from scratch, even though my kids seemed disappointed when I admitted this... I was too busy raising them to spend years in a culinary school in Paris learning such an essential life skill). Three easy steps of sauteeing the veggies, mixing the mascarpone with some lemon zest, and prepping the pastry, and voila, you're done. The puff pastry rose and browned beautifully and Austin said it tasted like fish in a croissant. And he was totally right. I had bought some beautiful orange tomatoes with Carole at the market earlier that week so I stuffed them with quinoa and then baked them, and they were the perfect complement to the fish.
Salmon, Leek and Mascarpone Parcels
4 salmon fillets
1 shallot or 1/2 small onion
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 sheets of puff pastry
sea salt & black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil knob of butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat a tbsp of olive oil and a little butter in a pan. Add onions and cook over a low heat for about 8-10 mins until soft but not coloured. Add chopped leeks, season and cook over a low heat for about 15-20 mins until soft. Add lemon zest to the mascarpone and season. Throw a bit of flour on the counter and roll out the pastry. Once the leeks are cooked, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool and then mix with mascarpone. Place salmon on the pastry sheet and season well; place leek/mascarpone mix on top. Brush some beaten egg around the edges so the sides will seal. Fold over the pastry and cut away any excess, making a square or rounded shape. It doesn’t have to be perfect so don’t worry about it. Press down the edges with a fork and then egg-wash the entire outside. Place on a greased (rub the tray with some butter) baking tray and cook for around 20 mins until pastry has risen and is nice and golden…
Baked Stuffed Tomatoes with Quinoa
4 medium-large, ripe tomatoes. Each tomato should average about 5 ounces each
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, plus a little to drizzle
about 12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 shallots, minced
1 tsp soy sauce
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 cup quinoa
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and oil a medium baking dish. Cut the tops off each tomato, allowing enough room to spoon in the mixture. Scoop out the flesh of each tomato and break up any large chunks of the tomato flesh. Arrange the hollowed out tomato shells in the greased baking dish. Lightly brush the outside of the tomatoes with a bit of olive oil.
For the filling, combine 2/3 cup of the tomato flesh and juice, olive oil, most of the basil, shallots, soy sauce, salt, black pepper and garlic in a bowl. Add the quinoa and stir until all ingredients are combined.
Spoon the stuffing into the tomatoes until the tomatoes are almost full. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked. The tomatoes will start to wrinkle and brown. The top layer of quinoa on the tomatoes will be slightly crunchy. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and remainder of the basil. Serve warm.
Rest of the week April 1-4 New York City April 5 Pasta with mushroom sauce April 6 Pork Cutlets Parmesan April 7 Salmon Parcels with Tomatoes Stuffed with Quinoa