Fish and seafood is a hugely important part of the Mediterranean diet. While the indigenous species caught, cooked up and served in countries like Spain, Italy and Greece are more likely to have been taken from the sea, freshwater options such as rainbow trout can also be made to work very well with the traditional accompaniments of that part of the world. With its high quantities of omega-3 fatty acids, it could also be argued that trout is an even healthier option than most white fleshed sea fish.
This trout was actually caught just a couple of hours before it was delivered to me whole. This meant that I had to begin by scaling and gutting it. Where you are buying the fish, these tasks are ones which should already have been undertaken on your behalf.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 2 pound rainbow trout, scaled and gutted but otherwise whole
- Salt and pepper
- 4 thin slices of lemon
- 4 thin slices from half a peeled onion
- 2 bay leaves
- Olive oil
- 3/4 pound mixed and prepared roasting vegetables*
- Pinch dried basil
- Pinch dried oregano
- 2 cups dried fusilli pasta
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley plus extra to garnish
*The vegetables in this instance were bought in a foil pack, ready prepared, and consisted of sliced bell peppers, red onion, cherry tomatoes and sliced discs of zucchini (courgette)
Put your oven on to preheat to 450F/220C/Gas Mark 8. Cut the tail off the trout with a sharp knife and snip off all the fins with a pair of kitchen scissors. This makes it much easier after cooking to remove the flesh from the bones.
Season the inside of the belly cavity with salt and pepper. Lay in the lemon and onion slices and the bay leaves.
Lay a large sheet of aluminum foil in a roasting tray and lightly oil it with olive oil. This will prevent the trout sticking to the foil during cooking. Lay the trout on the foil on one of its sides and cover the tray with a second large sheet of foil. Put the tray in to the oven for twenty minutes.
These vegetables came in a disposable roasting tray but if you are preparing your own vegetables, you will need to use an appropriate ovenproof tray or dish. Season the vegetables with salt, pepper and the dried basil and oregano. Drizzle liberally with olive oil and stir carefully with a wooden spoon. Place in to your oven for half an hour.
When the trout is ready, remove the tray from the oven and sit it on a heatproof surface. The vegetables will still have ten to fifteen minutes of their cooking time remaining. Still wearing your oven protecting gloves, remove the top sheet of foil from the tray, ensuring you don't get burned by the escaping steam. Let the fish rest and cool slightly for ten minutes.
You can measure out the pasta any way you choose but I find a coffee mug like this is an excellent guide to one portion so two of these measures were required in this recipe. The pasta should be added to a large pot of heavily salted boiling water. Adjust the heat to achieve a moderate simmer for eight minutes to ten minutes.
Drain the pasta through a colander at your sink and set it aside for two or three minutes to steam off and dry out. Take the vegetables from the oven and set them similarly aside for the same time period while you attend to the trout.
It's surprisingly easy to remove the flesh from the skin and bones just by following a few simple steps in the correct order. Begin by cutting through the skin, along the lateral line in the top center of the fish, with a very sharp knife, all the way along the length of the fish from the head to the tail. You should then slide the skin half furthest away from you away from the backbone and off the flesh.
Slide the second half of the skin away from the backbone in the opposite direction until freed.
Cut down through the flesh of the fish along one side of the backbone until you feel the resistance of the fish's central bone structure. You will then be able to slide the flesh off the bones - away from the backbone - using the side of your knife's blade. Sit it on a holding plate.
Cut along the other side of the backbone and slide the second fillet free in the same way.
Pinch the backbone at the tail end between your thumb and forefinger and lift it away from the remaining flesh of the fish. It should easily come free in one clean piece.
Pick away the lemon, onion and bay leaf pieces. Use your knife to separate the two halves of the bottom fillet and slide them apart, off the skin, before lifting them to your holding plate.
The foil can now easily be wrapped around the skin and bones and discarded.
It is virtually impossible to eliminate the risk of a bone remaining in a fish fillet but using this method of removing the flesh reduces the chances just about as much as is possible.
Tip the pasta back in to the empty cooking pot and add the vegetables and parsley. Stir fold gently to combine with a wooden spoon.
Divide the pasta and vegetable combination between two serving plates.
Lay the trout in bite sized pieces on top of the pasta and vegetables and garnish with the last of the parsley before serving.