This is an elegant dish for a dinner party that is easy to prepare. Flatfish with mint sauce is a combination I saw in one of Biba Caggiano’s cookbooks. In this case I used sole. If turbot is the king of flatfish, then sole certainly is the queen. But you could also use turbot or even flounder. Mint works well with peas, and the fennel salad adds a nice crispy element. This is one of those dishes where each bite should include a little bit of everything on the plate for the best experience.
For 4 servings
450 grams (1 lb) sole fillets (from 2 soles of 450 grams/1 lb each; each sole yields 4 fillets)
2 fennel bulbs (that I forgot to include in the photo)
450 grams (1 lb or 3 generous cups) garden peas, frozen is fine
250 ml (1 cup) dry white wine
2 Tbsp good quality white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp minced fresh mint leaves
good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F, preferably with the broiler turned on. Season the sole fillets with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides.
Brush them with extra virgin olive oil on both sides…
…and roll them up tightly. Brush the top and bottom of each roll with olive oil as well.
Arrange the sole rolls in an oven proof baking dish, preferably non-stick.
If you have one, insert the probe of a digital thermometer into the center of one of the rolls.
Bake in the oven (if using a broiler, close to the top) until the sole has just been cooked through, about 15 minutes. If using the thermometer, pull the sole when it reads 45C/113F. The carry-over heat will continue to cook the sole. Do not overcook the sole.
Meanwhile, boil the peas in salted water until tender. Add a pinch of baking soda to the cooking water to cook them more quickly and preserve the bright green color (optional).
Put the peas in the blender with as much of the cooking water as needed…
…to blend them into a smooth puree.
Transfer the pea puree to a saucepan and add some good quality extra virgin olive oil to taste. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Shave the fennel thinly, removing the tough core and the fronds, and dress with extra virgin olive oil and salt.
To make the sauce, sauté a minced clove of garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Do not allow the garlic to color.
Combine 250 ml (1 cup) of dry white wine with 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar.
Add this mixture to the garlic before it colors.
Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sauce has been reduced by half.
Turn off the heat and add a tablespoon of minced fresh mint leaves. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
If you timed everything perfectly, you can now assemble the dish. Start with a layer of pea puree in the middle of the plate, and surround it with fennel. Arrange two sole rolls on each plate, and spoon some of the mint sauce on top of the sole. Serve at once and enjoy.
We enjoyed this with an unoaked Chardonnay from Burgundy (Montagny 1er Cru to be precise), but it will work with many dry white wines as long as they are not too crispy or too oaky.
Don’t these Italian cookies look amazing? The best thing is that the nice ‘tiger’ pattern appears by itself. They are called acetani and have a wonderful flavor of almond and orange.