I love having friends over for a meal. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, I don’t mind. But when they come I don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen cooking. Sure, the meal is important; I like to serve up something delicious, perhaps a little different and, of course, something fitting to a low FODMAP diet. But most of all I want to join in the fun and laughter.
With lunch planned at our place this weekend, I set out to come up with a dish that I could prepare well before our guests arrived, so that all I had to do is warm up and finish off. The result was this dish of Oven-steamed Snapper, Baked Ratatouille and Polenta Frittes.
I got everything ready the day before, but if you were planning for a late lunch or dinner, preparing in the morning could work too. The fish was tucked into a foil and paper parcel with pats of butter flavoured with lemon, parsley and capers. The ratatouille was cooked and stowed in the fridge overnight, allowing the flavours to mingle together. Finally, the polenta was set in a tin, ready to be diced and baked in the oven.
It couldn’t have been simpler on the day. While we all enjoyed catching up over a drink the ratatouille was warming in the oven and the polenta was browning nicely. I added the snapper to the oven shortly before we were ready to eat and the flavoured butter melted as the snapper gently steamed in its own juices.
I got a nice email today thanking me for the lovely lunch…”YUM” was the word.
My mission: accomplished!
2 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil
1 red capsicum
400g can diced tomatoes
3 stalks fresh thyme
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 180°C. Slice eggplant into 1/2cm rounds and toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Cut the zucchini in half then slice each half into ½ cm slices lengthways, then toss with the remaining oil. Cut the capsicum into a 1cm dice. Heat a fry pan over medium high heat and cook the eggplant and zucchini in batches until golden. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add the capsicum to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes until it begins to soften. Add the tomatoes, ¼ cup of water and herbs, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes until slightly thickened.
Spread half of the tomato mixture over the base of an oven proof dish. Arrange half of the eggplant over the sauce, followed by half of the zucchini. Repeat eggplant and zucchini layers and top with remaining sauce. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Return ratatouille to the oven, covered, for 40 minutes until heated through.
2/3 cup instant polenta
3 cups chicken stock
20 g finely grated parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil
Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.
Bring stock to the boil in a medium saucepan. While whisking, slowly pour the polenta into the boiling stock. Continue to mix the polenta as it thickens. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. Mix the parmesan through the polenta then pour the polenta into the prepared tin; cover with a piece of baking paper. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight until firm.
Line a large baking sheet with baking paper. Turn the polenta from the tin onto a cutting board and cut into 2cm squares. Toss the polenta squares in the olive oil and arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes in the 200°C preheated oven until starting to brown on the edges. Serve sprinkled with salt to taste.
900g skinless snapper fillets
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon baby capers
100g unsalted butter, softened
Roughly chop the lemon zest, parsley and capers together and mix together with the butter. Shape the butter into a log and wrap in plastic wrap; chill in the fridge until firm.
Line a large baking tray with foil and place piece of baking paper on top that is just a little smaller. Cut the snapper fillets into 6 portions and place on the baking paper. Slice the butter log into 12 rounds and place 2 rounds on top of each snapper portion. Cover the the snapper with another piece of baking paper, followed by another large piece of foil. Scrunch the sheets of foil together to seal the snapper inside. Place the tray in the fridge until ready to cook.
Remove the tray from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking. Place the tray in a 200°C preheated oven for 12 minutes. Stand for 5 minutes before opening the parcel and serving.