Thursday, June 7, 2012

Swordfish with Spring Vegetables

How sweet it is… tiny English peas and yellow cherry tomatoes

Inspired By the Market: Swordfish with Spring Vegetables
(listening: Ambrose Akinmusire  “When the Heart Emerges Glistening”

Each week at the farmer’s market brings new arrivals. At Jett’s Produce there were baskets of English peas and yellow cherry tomatoes. Curling out from a container of cucumbers were bunches of garlic scapes. Farmer Thad Jett uses high tunnels on his farm so tomatoes so early in the season are not unusual for him. The peas, the sweet-as-sugar tomatoes, and some garlic scapes would get used as part of dinner.

After you shell the peas, you could save the pea pods and turn them into a simple broth. Rinse, then toss the pea pods into a saucepan with a bit of chopped onion, chopped celery; exact ingredients aren’t crucial. Whatever you have hiding in the fridge will work. Fill the pot with 6 cups water, add ¼ teaspoon salt, and simmer until reduced by half. Strain, saving the broth. Press on the vegetables to release more flavor, then discard the vegetables. Store the broth in the refrigerator and use for this recipe, or freeze for a future use in soup, risotto, etc.

If you don’t want the bother of shelling peas, fresh sugar snap peas are also beginning to show up at markets and they could be used just as easily. You will use about 6 to 8 sugar snaps per serving, sliced in half. They will require a slightly longer cooking time, but they are an easy substitute for the peas.

What are garlic scapes? Garlic scapes, sometimes called green garlic, are the tops of the garlic plant. You use them the same way as garlic cloves. You can also chop them and puree them with some olive oil and you will have green garlic oil to use for cooking. Substitute garlic scapes for garlic in pesto.

Add the peas only a minute or two before serving since they don’t require much cooking time.
This was made with swordfish, but would go well with chicken, too.

If you are pairing this with fish, you could add some clam broth (bottled is fine) as a cooking liquid for the vegetables. If you make this with chicken, you could use chicken broth. This is optional since water will help form a broth as the vegetables cook.

The vegetables and their cooking liquid form the basis for the sauce for the fish. Reduce the sauce slightly and enrich it with a tablespoon or two of cold butter swirled in just before serving.
The recipe can be adapted to other vegetables as they make their way into the markets. Be inspired.

Swordfish with Spring Vegetables
For two servings:

Two  6 ounce swordfish steaks
1 Tablespoon thinly sliced garlic scapes, or 1 or 2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons minced shallot or onion
14 to 16 yellow cherry tomatoes
½ cup peas (or sugar snap pea substitution)
salt and ground black pepper
olive oil, for cooking
water or pea broth
1 Tablespoon cold unsalted butter

1. Place a medium-sized sauté pan over medium heat; when hot, swirl in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the garlic scapes and shallot/onion. Lower the heat a sweat the vegetables for 4 to 5 minutes until softened. Add the cherry tomatoes, season with salt and ground black pepper. Add ½ of water, cover the pan and cook the tomatoes until they begin to blister and begin softening. Watch from time to time and add additional water/broth as needed. Once the tomatoes have softened and given off some of their juice it’s ready for the peas, but wait until the swordfish is done.
2. Grill the swordfish until cooked to the desired degree of doneness; about ten minutes an inch total cooking time for well done. Remove fish and keep warm.
3. Add the peas to the sauté pan, and additional broth and cook the peas until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add the cold butter to the pan;  swirl the butter around until it has melted and the sauce is a creamy consistency. Divide the vegetables between two plates. Top with the swordfish and spoon some of the sauce over the fish.



Ever since Miles Davis, the problem for young trumpeters has been "where do you go?" Davis moved in so many directions during his long career that to even put a harmon mute into a trumpet and slur a note or two drew suspicions. For his 2011 "When the Heart Emerges Glistening," trumpeter Akinmusire heads down his own adventurous path, one steeped in tradition (he won the Thelonious Monk competition in 2007) and also fully aware of the parameter pushing avant-garde of the '60's and '70. Teamed with Walter Smith III on tenor sax, Gerald Clayton on piano, Harish Raghavan on bass and Justin Brown on drums, Akinmusire is a generous leader. It is an equal collaboration by like minded musicians.  This is music of edges, not smooth curves. Akinmusire prefers solos with angular moves. The polyrythmic drumming of Justin Brown keeps the music moving forward but always askew. The influence of co-producer Jason Moran is evident, but wasn't Monk's music first perceived as angular and off kilter? The album, except for a trumpet/ piano duet of the standard, "What's New" is comprised of compositions by Akinmusire with one by Raghavan. Lately Ambrose Akinmusire has been working with a big band, the results of which should be interesting. This is a major label debut filled with promise.

                             Jett's Produce:

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