Spring has been a long time coming here in East Tennessee. In fact, we are still struggling to get away from Winter’s chilly grasp but the fresh flavors that we all love about this time of the year, are readily available in our local markets. One of my favorite ethnicities in food comes from the Mediterranean and not only is it delicious but it is a healthy food lifestyle to follow as well. The flavors are so uniquely tasty that the variety of cooking options are endless.
I have always loved to combine the tastes of the Mediterranean with the mild, sweet flavor of mahi mahi. This lean yet firm fish is often confused with being in the dolphin family but they are not related in any way. It is wonderful either grilled or baked but I was intrigued by Chef Curtis Stone’s version which cooks it on the stovetop with a classic Puttanesca Sauce….Braised Mahi Mahi Puttanesca!
Puttanesca Sauce originated in Italy and is made from tomatoes, black olives, capers, anchovies, and herbs. There are many variations but one special note I want to add: DO NOT SKIP THE ANCHOVIES! Even if you don’t like them, they are cooked down so much they are used as only a flavor enhancer and if not included, your dish will not have the tasty and fragrant profile of a true Puttanesca Sauce. Step outside the box and give this “shunned ingredient” a try…you will be glad you did!
Not only is this a simple recipe to prepare but the best part is it is made all in one pan for easy clean up. It is the perfect dish to serve on a busy weeknight or an evening with your favorite guests. They will think you slaved all day! My favorite way to serve is this is over a creamy polenta with Roasted Baby Asparagus on the side. Check it out…..
Braised Mahi Mahi Puttanesca
- 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 anchovy fillets, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes ( I prefer a little more since I like it a little spicy)
- 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped (If you can’t find good fresh tomatoes, a 1 1/2 pound of petite diced tomatoes will work as well)
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
- 2 Tbsp. capers, drained
- Kosher salt
- 4 skinless mahimahi or sea bass fillets (6 ounces each)
- 2 tsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
In a large, heavy skillet, heat 3 Tbsp. oil over low heat. Add garlic and anchovies and cook, stirring frequently and mashing anchovies, about 2 minutes, or until garlic is soft but not browned.
Stir in red pepper flakes. Add tomatoes, wine, olives, and capers. Increase heat to medium and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes, or until tomatoes have broken down. Season to taste with salt.
Season fish with salt, and lay gently in the sauce. Drizzle fillets with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil. Cover and simmer gently over low heat 7 to 10 minutes, or until fish is just cooked through and still moist.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Bottom Line: This recipe is everything you could ask for in a Mediterranean fish dish. It is easy, healthy, savory, and with the addition of cooking it all in one pan, an easy clean up! Your family will ask for it again and again and you will impress any guests that have this at your dinner table. Give it a try and let me know what you think! I am Chef Frankie always in the kitchen and always cooking with “love and wild abandon”!