Sunday, November 20, 2011

Red Snapper. Butternut Squash. Balsamic Pickled Beets. Sunchokes.

Sunchokes, butternut squash, beets... fall is in full swing.
Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem Artichokes, bear no resemblance to artichokes and they don't come from Jerusalem.  In fact, it's a root vegetable that is part of the sunflower family.  It looks like a ginger root but has a sweet and nutty flavor that actually tastes like sunflower seeds.  Very cool vegetable if you're looking for something new to add to your repertoire this season. It can be roasted, mashed, pureed, and in this case very simply sauteed in olive oil with salt and pepper and finished with a little butter to enhance the natural sweetness.
The pickled beets give a nice brightness that contrasts the creamy sweetness of the butternut squash and the nuttiness of the sunchokes. The crispy fish skin gives a textural contrast to the puree and the pea tendrils add a fresh... "pea" flavor.  That's right, these little green shoots from pea plants actually taste like peas, but they look like a micro green.  They're not always available, so take advantage if you see them in the market.   You can use them in their raw state, like I did here, or they can be sauteed like spinach or myriad of other ways...but that's for another post.

Oh...and Bruce Springsteen announced a new album and world tour today.  Happy days.

4 6-7 oz filets of red snapper
1 small butternut squash peeled and cubed
4 small beets roasted and peeled
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar
4 tablespoons of butter
1 lb of sunchokes rinsed, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil (or any oil with a high smoke point)
small handful of pea tendrils

Butternut Squash Puree:  Put the squash in a medium saucepan and cover with water with salt and pepper, bring to a boil. When the squash is soft, smash with a potato masher, add 2 tablespoons of butter and puree till smooth with an immersion blender. adjust seasonings.

Balsamic Pickled Beets: You can buy parcooked & peeled beets.  If you have fresh beets, wrap them up in aluminum foil with olive oil, salt & pepper, roast in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until tender. When cooled, cut the beets into 1" cubes.

In a small saucepan, cover the beets with the balsamic vinegar, sugar and season with salt & pepper. simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove the beets and reduce the liquid till thick- use this to drizzle around the plate later. Cover the beets with foil to keep warm.

Sunchokes: Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick pan.  Add the sunchoke cubes and sauté till tender and beginning to brown, season with salt & pepper.  Add the white wine vinegar, continue to saute for another minute.  Add 1 tablespoon of butter, toss till melted.  Remove from the pan and cover with foil.

Red Snapper: In the same pan used for the sunchokes,  heat the canola oil.  Dry off the fish and season with salt & pepper. Add the fish to the pan skin side down, pressing down with the back of a spatula to ensure good contact with the pan.  This will give you nice crispy skin. once the the skin is nice and crisp, flip the fish, add the last tablespoon of butter and cook for another 45 seconds or so, just till its cooked through.

Feel free to plate it as simply or as dramatically as you like.  The flavors work beautifully regardless.

Butternut Squash being brought to a boil

Sautéing Sunchokes

Simmering Beets in Balsamic Vinegar

Mashed butternut squash, before being pureed