Hi friends! I’m dishing up one of my favorite light and fresh dinner recipes this week to celebrate this gorgeous weather. It’s all about the contrast of texture and flavor with this one. I use this recipe often in cooking classes because so many of my clients are intimidated by cooking fish. This is the perfect recipe to take your seafood worries away. Without a doubt, this fish turns out tender, crunchy, and flavorful every time.
The crunchy coating packs a serious punch from the Dijon and…wait for it…za’atar. Never heard of za’atar? You’re missing out! Za’atar is a unique Middle Eastern herb blend with a thyme-like flavor. It’s most commonly mixed with a variety of other ingredients such as sesame seeds, oregano, marjoram, salt and sometimes sumac. The combination of these flavors is wonderfully exotic and earthy.
To start off, combine 2 tablespoons za’atar with 1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios and 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs in a food processor. Even though the za’atar contains some salt, I still like to add a couple pinches to the mix anyway. After a few pulses, the mixture will be finely ground with small chunks of pistachio remaining.
To make life easier, I set up a dredging station with three large baking dishes. This is the key to a clean kitchen, folks! I filled one with the pistachio mixture and laid out four lemon sole fillets in another. Into the third goes 1/2 cup dijon mustard. Have you tried lemon sole? It’s an inexpensive yet delicately-flavored whitefish with very generously sized fillets. If you have any fish-averse family members (cough, kids) this is a great starter fish. It’s perfectly mild without that overwhelmingly fishy taste. If you can’t find lemon sole, any flaky, mild whitefish will do.
Using tongs, transfer the fillets one at a time into the dijon dish and coat the entire fillet with a thin coat of mustard. A spatula really helps get the job done.
Next up is the crunchy stuff. Lay each fillet into the pistachio mixture, covering both sides generously with this magical coating. Really get it everywhere — this stuff is gold! Once each fillet is dredged, transfer them back into their original baking dish before popping them into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set up. You’d be surprised at how much this helps the crust stick to the fish.
3o minutes later, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. My skillet fits two fillets perfectly, but make sure that you’re not overcrowding the pan. Cook the first side for about 4 to 5 minutes, until deeply golden.
With a fish spatula, flip the fish over to cook on the other side. If you lose a little crust, it’s okay! The world is an imperfect place!
I serve this dish simply — just a little lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper to finish it off. Go ahead and round the meal out with a hearty grain like quinoa if you like. It can’t get much lighter than that! But don’t worry, you’re not sacrificing any of the flavor. Crunchy pistachio, tangy Dijon, and exotic za’atar turn this dish into something really exciting and unusual. I would even entertain with this recipe! If you’re looking to keep your dinner healthy and light without being bland and boring, try this out. As always, let me know how it goes!
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