ON RED, FALL AND A POMEGRANATE INFUSED RED TROUT
Red is the color of fall. Who said that red equals Christmas time? Nature isn’t red in winter, it is red now. Red in all its nuances: magenta, pomegranate, burgundy, ruby red…
Walking around the park, I noticed that some traces of summer are still there. The very last roses are still there, they haven’t give up, and yet, they are somehow eclipsed by the most striking color palette of the fallen leaves, and of those still hanging, waiting on some wind to join their mates on the ground.
I am constantly astonished, year after year, by the beauty of fall –the kind of beauty you notice in a shy, shady person with deep, melancholic eyes and charming features. This year in particular, I was surprised by this omnipresent red color that tinges elements all around me.
On Friday, I go to the farmer’s market to lay in fresh seasonal produce. Even there, again, red. Boxes of the very last bell peppers from the area, from Carmagnola, were stacked in tall, shaky piles . Red and yellow, you could still buy them by the box and spend 1 euro a kilo. Here in Piedmont people are seriouos about their peppers and they consume a very large amount of them, roasted and served with sauces. As for me, I didn’t really feel like peperoni all’acciuga col bagnet vert. I had enough of them all summer. The color of the red bell peppers was captivating, though. I thought two would be enough. No discount for me. Oh well.
- The rest of my weekly grocery shopping counted a bunch of flashy radishes, some red onions and a bag of shiny red, new apples (Royal Gala variety, my favorite). Reading all those stories about driving to the apple orchard made me a little jealous: not so many orchards here nearby, unfortunately. Plus, it is not really a tradition of ours. I am grateful to those farmers who bring the best of their produce to my table, letting me savor the fruits of the season and the passing of time.
I headed home and emptied my shopping basket. Something strange happened. All I bought was somehow red. It was like I needed to be sympathetic with the nature outside, the foliage and falling leaves, the colorful berries attached to the decorative bushes. It was strange and fascinating at the same time. It was like a sign: I had to make a red dish, something to honor the magnificent beauty of autumnal colors.
Friday is also fish day for us, because it is on Fridays that local freshwater fish farmers come to the market to sell their products. You can find the freshest trouts I have ever seen for the most honest price. As usual, I purchased a couple of fresh red trout fillets from “my trout guy”, as I call the trout farmer, and immediately started to think of how to make this red dish happen.
On the way home, I stepped into a pomegranate tree leaning on my side of the road, with some bright, ripe fruits hanging out of the house rail. I picked them, unseen, and ran home like a happy kid after a prank. I just couldn’t resist.
Although well-known for being a super-food, healthy and full of antioxidants, pomegranate is often times considered tedious to seed and juice. So, what happens is that it acquires an ornamental role only. This is my grandma’s case: she has a pomegranate tree full of fruits she never eats. As for me, I love them and I feel sorry for the undeserved end they often do. Picking them from that tree that day made me feel like I was saving them. Plus, they would be perfect for my red dish –right the nuance I was missing.
In planning my red dish that day, I discovered that pomegranate juice can be successfully used to make marinades. I started from here, marinating my trout fillets in the bright magenta liquid I obtained by juicing a couple of fruits. I have never seen such a bright color in a fruit. Never.
In the meantime, I also roasted one of my red bell peppers on the open flame, sliced a red apple, chopped a red onion and shaves some radishes. All seasonal food, and all red: success. Salad was seasoned while fish was cooking in its own juice and marinade on a skillet.
The table was set with red candles and leaves I collected at the park. Our red lunch was served: colorful, tasty and ready to be enjoyed in a cloudy fall day.
- 2 ruby trout fillets with skin
- 2 medium-sized, ripe pomegranates, seeded
- 1 teaspoon / 8 grams kosher salt
For the salad:
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 10 small radishes, shaved
- 1 medium-size red apple (I used Gala), thinly sliced
- 1 small Tropea red onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup / 100 ml red wine
For salad dressing:
- 2 teaspoons (about 10 grams) cassis mustard
- 1 tablespoon/ 15ml olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon/ 2 grams kosher salt
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnishing
In a blender, juice 3/4 of the pomegranate seeds with short bursts. Stain to remove kernels.
Pour juice in a medium-size bowl.
Cut trout fillets into two parts and place in the bowl with the juice. Cover the bowl with a lid and let the fish marinade for at least half an hourand up to 2 hours.
Heat a large skillet oven medium fire and place trout fillets skin-sided. Cook for two-three minutes, then pour the marinade on top, season with salt, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until cooked through (it depends on how thick your fillets are).
For the salad: Turn the gas stove to medium-high. Wrap the bell pepper in aluminum foil and place it directly on the flame. Roast for 10 minutes, turning it on all sides using long tweezers.
Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly before unwrapping and removing seeds and skin using with a knife. Cut bell pepper pulp lenghwise and set aside.
In a small skillet over medium-high flame, heat half olive oil and sauté onion for two minutes. Deglaze with red wine and let cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together apple slices, radish slices, onion and bell pepper. Dress with mustard, salt and the remaining olive oil.
Divide salad between two plates, place the cooked trout fillet on top, and sprinke with fresh chopped parsley and the rest of the pomegranate seeds.
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