Aunt Suzy says . . .

I noticed this recipe in our newspaper a while back and then forgot about it because I couldn’t find Arctic Char at the time.  (Yes, I still get and read the newspaper!) But this fish showed up at our local co-op last week and I remembered the recipe. I’d never cooked with Arctic Char before – we thought it was delicious!  It looks a little like salmon, but has a more delicate flavor and a creamier texture.  This recipe is fast and easy to make, and the noodles can be served hot or at room temperature.  We served it with Corfu Salad and a rose wine. I think it would also be good with a side of asparagus.

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS:  If you can’t find soba noodles (Japanese noodles made of buckwheat and wheat flour), I think thin spaghetti would work.  And if you can’t find Meyer lemons – it’s getting very late in the season – you can use regular lemons.  The original recipe called for 6 tablespoons of olive oil, but we thought that a bit much.  Adjust to your taste.

• 6 – 8 ounces soba noodles

• 1/4 cup pine nuts

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

• 1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more for seasoning

• 1/2 – 1 teaspoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest

• 2 teaspoons fresh Meyer lemon juice

• 4-6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

• 1 tablespoon cumin seeds

• 4 arctic char fillets (about 8 oz. each), preferably center-cut pieces

• Meyer lemon wedges, for serving

• Chopped fresh cilantro or mint, for tossing and serving

Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Rinse and drain well.

Finely grind the pine nuts.  You can do this with a few pulses of a food processor or use a nut grinder.  You could also chop them finely with a knife.  Scrape the ground pine nuts into a large bowl. Add the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and lemon zest. Whisk in the lemon juice. Slowly whisk in 2-3 tablespoons oil to taste. When the noodles are finished cooking, toss them with the dressing while hot even if you will serve them room temperature.  Add mint or cilantro at this point if you’d like, although the original recipe called for using the herbs just as garnish.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Set a small skillet over medium-high heat and allow to heat up, about 1 minute. Add the cumin seeds and sizzle until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and add remaining 2-3 tablespoons of oil. Allow to cool slightly.

Season the fish with remaining salt and a pinch of pepper and place on the baking sheet. Spoon the cumin and oil evenly over the fillets. Roast to desired doneness, about 5-7 minutes for medium rare depending on thickness of the fish.  Our fish was thin and done after 5 minutes.

Divide the noodles among four plates and place the fish beside the noodles. Garnish with the lemon wedges and cilantro or mint.

Aunt Suzy says

This is the perfect fall dish – delicious, fast and easy!  I found the original recipe in Food and Wine magazine a couple of years ago and this is the second time I’ve made it.  I had apples left over from my big haul for making applesauce and have had this on my mind to make for a couple of weeks.  I have only tinkered with the recipe slightly, adding triple the amount of apples called for – why be stingy with something so good?  I think these apples would also be a great side to a fall vegetarian dinner or with pork chops.  We served this dish with Kale with Currants, Lemon and Olives and garlic roasted potatoes, which made for a really tasty meal.    A rich Italian white wine was suggested, and  I remembered one we had from Sicily a while back  – Planeta La Segreta, a blend of several whites.  It was delicious!

1 tablespoon EV olive oil

4 sweet Italian sausages, pork or chicken

1/2 cup water

5-6 apples (Jonathan, Granny Smith or other tart/firm apples), peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.  Add the sausages and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until browned but not cooked through.  This will take about 5 minutes.  I found that a splatter screen was a must for this step!

Add the water to the skillet.  Cover and cook until the water has mostly evaporated and the sausages are firm, about 7 minutes.  Move the sausages to the side of the skillet and add the apples and fennel seeds.  Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the apples are tender and starting to brown.  No matter how much water you start with, you will want to have the heat high enough so that it evaporates during this step.  You want to end up with sauteed apple slices, not applesauce!   Finish by stirring in the vinegar and seasoning with salt and pepper.