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May 5, 2019 9:34 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Fresh Herbs To Refresh Recipes

Fillet of flounder with pistachio pesto before baking JANEEN SARLIN
May 6, 2019 12:18 PM

Fresh herbs, fresh recipes! Spring’s standout herbs like dill, thyme, cilantro, oregano, and basil are in peak form right now. Whether you are making something new and different or refreshing an old recipe, their delicious vibrancy will deliver potent health perks, elevating the recipes to a new level.

Combining haunting flavored cilantro and spicy peppery arugula with sweet pistachios to make pesto is a perfect example! It’s versatile, for example, smear the pesto on fish fillets before baking, add a few tablespoons to piping hot pasta, or whisk two or three tablespoons of sour cream, yogurt, or mayo into a half cup of pesto for a dip with crudités.

Starting with my grandmother’s cornbread recipe, I substituted yogurt and milk for the buttermilk, added fresh savory herbs, whole kernel corn, sweet sun-dried cranberries, plus red pepper flakes and adobo sauce for pizzazz. It’s appealing and delicious...the perfect addition for the upcoming seasonal entertaining. Bon appetit!

Savory Cornbread Squares Circa 2019(Serves 8 to 10)1 small onion, chopped

Extra virgin olive oil for sauteing

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pinch of red pepper flakes, or more to taste

1 large egg

1/2 cup milk or half and half

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 tablespoon or more adobo sauce (from smoked chiles in adobo sauce)

1/3 cup sun-dried cranberries

3/4 cup cooked corn kernels

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro and oregano or your favorite combination of herbsTo prepare:Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking pan and set aside.

In a skillet over moderate heat, coat the bottom with oil, add onion and saute until soft and translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a side dish and reserve.

In a mixing bowl, add flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, red pepper flakes and whisk together until blended.

In a bowl or quart-measuring pitcher, whisk the egg until frothy, add milk, yogurt, cooled butter, adobo sauce and whisk until blended. Stir the yogurt/egg into the dry ingredients until mixed well. Stir in the cranberries, corn, and herbs.

Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake at 400 degrees F. until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. The edges and top will be nicely browned. Let stand about 10 to 15 minutes before cutting if serving hot. Or completely cool on a rack, remove from the pan and wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Hold for one day at room temperature or freeze for up to one week. Just before serving, reheat the corn bread in a 300 degrees F. oven about 10 minutes for the best flavor. Fillet Of Flounder With Spring Greens Pistachio Pesto(Serves 4)For the spring greens pesto: Yield generous 1 cup

4 cups baby arugula leaves, washed and spun dry

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, or more to taste

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, or more to taste

1/3 cup chopped salted, roasted pistachios

3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or more as needed

2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or more to taste

1 large clove garlic, sliced or more to taste

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the flounder: (optional substitutions: fluke, sole)

1 medium sweet onion, sliced

4 fillets of flounder, rinsed

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Fresh lemon juice for drizzling

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Few sprigs of cilantro or parsley

Lemon wedges for baking and garnishTo prepare:Working in the food processor bowl fitted with the stainless steel blade, add arugula, cilantro, parsley and process until evenly chopped. Add pistachios and process until well blended. Slowly add oil through the feeding tube until the mixture has desired consistency. Add lemon juice and garlic, process until blended. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, or more lemon juice. Transfer to a clean glass jar and refrigerate. Can be done ahead.

For the flounder: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle oil on the bottom of an oven-proof dish that is large enough to hold the flounder in one layer. Scatter onions and few sprigs of cilantro on the onion.

Rinse and remove the spiny column running down the middle of the fillet of flounder. Arrange the fish in one layer on top of the onions, season with salt and pepper, and evenly spread one to two teaspoons of pesto over the top of each piece of fish. Drizzle with lemon juice and oil. Add small wedges of lemon around the edge of the dish.

Bake until pesto is brown on the edges and the fish has turned from translucent to opaque, about 10 minutes. Baking time will depend on the amount and thickness of the fish.

Transfer to warm dinner plates and serve with the onions and lemon wedges from the baking dish. Pass the au jus at the table.

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