Super Easy Fish & Veggie Gratin
Inspired by the Bahamas and Childhood Memories
I developed this recipe when we were cruising in the Bahamas and was looking for something to make with a fresh fish we had caught. I remembered a casserole my mom frequently used to make when she entertained guests. Her recipe included mushrooms, tomatoes, white wine, cream and swiss cheese. Sounds weird but it was a big hit. My mom got the recipe from her friend Eddy and thus we always called it "Eddy's Fish Dish."
This recipe has a few of the same ingredients as Eddy's Fish Dish, but instead of cooking it like a casserole with cream and wine, my version is more like a gratin, with layers of vegetables, fish, bread crumbs and a little bit of cheese to bind it all together. It takes about half an hour to assemble and another half an hour in the oven. It is easy enough to cook on a boat, healthy enough for a weeknight meal, and tasty enough for an impromptu dinner party.
I like to think of this recipe as vegetable forward, starting with a layer of sauteed vegetables and including a middle layer of tomato slices. You can substitute a variety of vegetables for the mushrooms, including sauteed onions, zucchini or brussels sprouts. Or you can double down and use multiple vegetables.
Likewise, you can use a variety of fish. I've used sole, mahi mahi and tilapia. Cod, halibut and salmon would work well too.
I've used panko for breadcrumbs and once made homemade bread crumbs when we were on the boat and had none in our galley. I particularly like panko for the crunch it gives this dish. Any kind of bread crumbs will work.
If you are on a gluten-free diet you can still make this dish. Just use gluten-free panko.
Easy to Size Up or Down
This recipe is easy to size up or down to make for one, two, four or a crowd. Choose a baking pan to fit the number of servings you plan to make. A 13" x 9" x 2" works well for six servings. I use an 11" x 8" x 2" pan to make four servings. Plan on about 1/3 pound of fish per person. The quantity of vegetables you use really depends on how vegetable forward you want this dish to be. Exact measurements are not necessary.
One Pan or Two
In this version, I use two pans: a skillet to saute the vegetables and a glass or ceramic 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish for the gratin. As an alternative, you could roast the vegetables in a little olive oil in the baking dish, then layer the fish, tomatoes and cheese over the roasted vegetables. This would eliminate the need for the saute pan and allow you to substitute olive oil for butter. A nice win-win.
My Trick to Prevent Garlic From Burning
Do you have problems with your garlic burning when a recipe calls for sauteing garlic in butter? I don't know why so many recipes instruct you to saute the garlic first. It is a recipe for disaster. The simple way to keep garlic from burning is to saute it with other vegetables. I typically begin sauteing the vegetables first, then after about a minute add the garlic. Try it! It works.
Super Easy Fish and Veggie Gratin
Yield 6 Servings
An easy weeknight fish that is good enough for entertaining and requires only 30 minutes of prep time. This fish gratin is built with layers of vegetable and panko-coated fish, then topped with a sprinkling of cheese that binds it all together.
3 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds fish fillets, such as sole, mahimahi. tilapia or cod
3/4 cup panko or other bread crumbs
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, sliced
6 ounces gruyere or swiss cheese, grated
2 T parmesan cheese, finely grated (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the butter over medium heat until melted and it begins to bubble. Add mushrooms and garlic and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the mushrooms are cooking, dry the fish and season the fillets on both sides with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Put the panko on a plate and dip the fillets in the panko, coating each side of the fillets.
Spread the sauteed mushrooms in the bottom of a glass or ceramic 13" x 9" x 2" pan. Layer the fish fillets over the mushrooms. If you are using thicker fillets such as mahi mahi, the fish will not overlap. If you are using thinner fillets such as sole, the fillets may overlap a bit. Some overlap is OK.
Layer the tomato slices on top of the fish and sprinkle the grated cheese on top of everything. Add the optional parmesan cheese last. Bake for 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve while hot.
You can substitute other vegetables for the bottom layer of sauteed mushrooms. Consider using sauteed onions, zucchini or brussels sprouts. Or a combination of vegetables.
Cuisine New American