Lane snapper that is. Y-U-M.
The weather has been fabulous this week in Georgia. Blue skies, sunny days, and temperatures flirting with the 70s. I am thankful! My husband loves a good weather forecast, so we planned ahead for something light yet flavorful- a Cajun inspired baked fish with sauteed swiss chard and a baked sweet potato.
At the market, the vibrant stalks of the red chard caught my eye. Big, beautiful leaves, organically grown. They were calling my name. Our ginormous sweet potato came from Louisiana, just down the road a piece. And the lane snapper drew me in because it was fresh as opposed to frozen, and I loved the varying grades of red on the skin.
Adam and I were both really eager to cook this meal. So, let’s talk about the process! I knew that the sweet potato was going to take quite a while to soften, so I got that into the oven right away. Then, we had time to create a spice mixture using celery salt, paprika, cayenne, garlic, and salt and pepper. Simple and flavor forward. I removed a few stray scales from Lane, cut off the tail end to ensure even cooking, and then sprinkled the seasoning on both the skin and flesh sides.
Next, we layered some fresh thyme
and thinly sliced lemons right on top of the fish.
We added a little more seasoning on top, and the snapper was ready for a trip to the oven. The moisture from the lemons basted the fish naturally as it cooked.
Meanwhile, I cut the ribs out of my chard, because they tend to be tough and take much longer to cook than leaves. My curiosity was piqued about those red stalks, however, and you know I don’t like to waste. So, I chopped the stems too and decided to roast them in the oven. (PS- The tail of the fish was not wasted either. We cooked up that piece for our dog who is also a big fan of fish.)
The leaves of chard are very similar to spinach in that they wilt quickly and are absolutely loaded with nutrients. They have a slight bitterness to them, but nothing like kale or collards.
I opted for a simple preparation, and just sauteed the leaves in a touch of olive oil and garlic.
It only took a few minutes to wilt.
And then everything in the oven was finished cooking. I love it when a plan comes together!
The fish was so pleasing to my eye.
Whoever invented the oven light was brilliant, because we were able to keep a watchful eye on our Lane. This fish was cooked to perfection.
I had a good feeling about that sweet potato. I knew it was going to add a lovely sweetness and round out our dish without any help from brown sugar or cinnamon.
I stuck to my guns and just added a touch of butter and a little freshly ground pepper.
I was most intrigued to see how the red chard stalks had fared.
Very interesting. Not like, “Oh my goodness, that is sooo delicious!” But, I did enjoy them. Somehow, they reminded me of roasted eggplant, the way the insides are kind of soft and squishy and the outside has a little chew to it. I think that next time, I’ll take the stalks all the way to crispy, almost like a chip and see what happens. It’s fun to play in the kitchen, and what a wonderful part of my job!
Let me reveal the final plating!
Mmmhmm. The Cajun inspired lane snapper was quite possibly in my top three fishes I’ve ever prepared. The flesh was so soft, succulent, and tender, and yet it pulled away cleanly with my fork- just the perfect amount of firmness. The feel of the fish in my mouth was luscious, and there wasn’t a hint of fishiness at all. The Cajun flare was sassy and well-balanced.
Fortunately, the sweet potato totally lived up to my expectations and provided a fabulous contrast in flavor against the savory and spicy components. The swiss chard reminded me a lot of spinach. It was mellow. I felt good eating it because I know its health benefits are numerous. Chard helps to regulate blood sugar, contains uber levels of disease fighting antioxidants, and boasts natural anti-inflammatory powers. It’s a super food!
All in all, I was very satisfied with our light and healthy meal. This dinner had no cheese, no pork, nothing creamy at all. (Well, a little bit of butter, which could be omitted if necessary.) And it was scrumptious. I am super excited about this method of cooking fish, and I have lots of light bulbs turning on in my head- so many ways to apply this practice with other spices, herbs, citrus and fish. I hope I’ve sparked some ideas for you too.
Spend some time in your kitchen this weekend. Try making something new, or put a new twist on a method you have already mastered. Share your food with friends and family and enjoy!!!
Happy cooking and eating,