Sometimes I sound like a broken record.
- “Have you cleaned your teeth? Properly?”
- “Move that cereal bowl.”
- “I’m coming up the stairs now (loud voice required for this one) and I’m hoping that I’ll find you in the shower / tidying your room / dressed and ready.*“ * Delete where applicable.
- “Mouth closed.”
- “It’s his livelihood, so no you can’t.” Context : Walking through a farmer’s field in France in the summer. Children wanted to climb on the hay bales. Seemed like a good explanation at the time, for why I was saying no. Maybe I was just keen to get home. I use it a lot anyway.
- “Are you sure you’ve got NO homework to do?”
- “It’s about how they choose to spend their money.” Context : trying to explain to our children that just because someone drives a super fancy car, you can’t automatically assume that they are dripping in wealth – it’s about how they choose to spend their money. The truth is that in Dubai, driving a super fancy car probably does equate to huge, enormous wealth, but I like the idea. And I use it a lot. Incidentally, we drive one of the least fancy, oldest cars in Dubai … complete with a dictionary injury and a blue, dashboard dinosaur.
- “Put your dirty plates IN the dishwasher, not just in the zone.”
- “TIDY your bedroom.”
- “Put your swim bags away.”
- “Could someone else clear up the dog poos from the lawn for a change?”
Yep, it’s true – I am that broken record.
Sometimes my trademark quotes are calmly and elegantly delivered; sometimes they are prefaced with a ‘Please’; sometimes they are screamed in a demonic rampage … I like to mix it up. Maybe it keeps me a tiny bit less predictable?
But you can also predict with complete certainty that at various points in the year, you’ll hear me saying to my lovely husband, “All I want to eat is white fish and vegetables.” It will be accompanied by me slumping onto the sofa or collapsing into bed and will be paired with a series of moans and groans. It’s what happens after periods of indulgence, extended or otherwise, where that whole gluttony thing has kicked in. 29th December with absolute certainty; 23rd January – after celebrating two birthdays in a week; the end of every family holiday … you get the idea. ‘White fish and vegetables’ is my definition of food that makes me feel great, food to cure all evils, food to cleanse the body and this Super-Healthy Sicilian Fish Stew has it all. There’s every bit of the healing properties of pure ‘white fish and vegetables’ but also tonnes of flavour (loving that preserved lemon), heaps of textures and stacks of superfood ingredients.
And here are the reasons why I predict that you’ll be loving this too –
- This is very easy to put together. Easy peasy.
- The flavours …. oh, the flavours. Tomatoes, onions, a little chilli, a touch of anchovy (don’t be scared, it’s only a touch) and that preserved lemon … seriously magical. And if you don’t have preserved lemon, grate the zest of ½ a lemon over the stew just before serving.
- It’s packed with good, healthy stuff. I’ve also topped it with some freshly steamed kale and a few crunchy spring onions, but these are optional. The green really works and the textures just take it to another level.
- It’s a great dish to prepare ahead of time. You can make the tomato base beforehand and finish it with the quinoa and fish when you’re ready to serve.
- The base freezes well too.
- The ‘prepare-ahead-ness’ makes this a perfect dinner party dish too. And its stylishly, rustic look is very sophisticated too. Serve it in flat bowls and you’ll look seriously like you know what you’re doing.
- And make it your own by adding something extra at the last minute – a few black olives, some frozen peas or some sun-blush tomatoes. This is your dish after all.
So there you have it – lots of reasons why I can predict that you’re going to love this dish … but that’s me sounding like a broken record again.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- 4 celery stalks, finely sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 3 anchovies
- a pinch of chilli flakes (to taste)
- 3 large tomatoes, diced
- 1.5l (2½ pints) vegetable stock
- ½ preserved lemon, finely chopped (or the grated zest of ½ lemon)
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 200g (7oz) quinoa
- 1kg (2lb 4oz) thick white fish fillet, skin and bones removed and cut into bite sized pieces.
- salt and pepper
- a handful parsley, finely chopped
- Heat the olive oil in a wide, shallow pan. Add the onion, celery, garlic, anchovies and chilli flakes. Cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Now add the tomatoes and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Pour in the vegetable stock and add the preserved lemon, tomato puree and quinoa. Combine well and bring to the boil before simmering for 12 minutes.
- Season the fish with salt and pepper and carefully add it to the pan. Cover with a lid and cook for a further 5 minutes until the fish is done.
- Taste to check the seasoning and sprinkle over the parsley to finish. If you are using grated lemon zest instead of preserved lemon, sprinkle it over the dish now.