Sole is a favorite fish of John Paul. When it's on the menu, he orders it. When sole is available I try to get it, although it is a delicate fish, and not one of my personal favorites. Most chefs stuff, roll, and then bake sole. That is one way to handle the thin, delicate fillets. I often bake sole as well, but at a recent dinner made a switch to feature sole and vegetables. I thought of several ways to highlight the vegetables--small dicing or even brunoise ( very small dice) of all the vegetables to top the fish. I thought of using the ingredients at hand to make a ratatouille of stewed vegetables or a caponata. Caponata is similar to ratatouille with the addition of vinegar, making it like a chutney. I came up with a cross between a caponata and a ratatouille, omitting the tomato. The flavors came through clean and simple, pairing nicely with the sole, and resulted in a perfect spring dinner.
6 large fillets of lemon sole
1 lemon, zested
3 tbsp olive oil
1 eggplant peeled, very small dice
1 kohlrabi peeled, very small dice
2 carrots peeled, very small dice
1 jalapeno seeds removed, very small dice
1 red pepper seeds removed, very small diced
2 small yellow squash seeds removed, very small dice ( outside only)
2 shallots, very small dice
1 cup slivered almonds, roasted
1/4 cup capers, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp mixed chopped herbs ( parsley, oregano, and dill )
Salt and pepper
1 lemon, juiced
3 tbsp olive oil
You might want to alter my directions for the vegetables to save a few steps. You can get away with cooking the vegetables all together.
For the veggies. In a large saute pan on medium heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp of butter, garlic, shallots, and eggplant. Season with salt and pepper lightly, cover the pan and cook the eggplant for 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside the eggplant, as it should be soft and cooked. In another small saute pan on medium high cook the kohlrabi by adding 1 tbsp olive oil (no butter), season with salt and pepper, saute for 5 minutes, then cover the pan. When the vegetables are cut small it doesn't take long. Add the kohlrabi to the eggplant. Repeat the same procedure with the carrots, squash, jalapeno, and red pepper. All the cooked vegetables are added to the eggplant. Cooking most of the vegetables separately prevents them from becoming mushy and insures their texture.
You can cook the vegetables together in one saute pan, and the dish would still taste delicious. Add almonds, capers, and herbs to the sauted vegetables and adjust the seasoning. Reheat if needed.
While the veggies are reheating, add the oil to a large saute pan. Season the sole fillet with salt and lemon zest on the fillet side only. Once the saute pan is hot place the fillet side down. The bottom of the fish will be up. Season this side with pepper and salt. The fish should take no longer than 3 minutes to cook. To get a nice crust on the fillet side, the pan needs to be really hot. After 3 minutes on the fillet side, flip the fish over for 3 seconds before taking it out onto a plate. Do this carefully because the fish is thin and cooks the whole way on one side. You may choose not to flip the fish as it will continue to cook after you take it out of the pan.
Place the fish onto the plate and drizzle with the lemon and olive oil mixture. Top the fish off with the vegetable compote and serve. This dish is light and great for the spring or summer.