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Dinner For Two: A Valentine’s Day feast

Arugula Salad w/Goat Cheese, Roasted Golden Beets and Raspberries

 

Pan Seared Sea Bass w/ a Spanish Olive

 

Alright people.  Valentine’s Day is upon us once again.  What are you going to do about it?  Make a killer dinner, that’s what!!   Your significant other will fall out when they eat this extravagant meal.  Be prepared: this is going to take a little work.  Impressive meals take some elbow grease – are you ready?   

Salad

  • Arugula
  • 3 oz. Goat Cheese
  • 8 ea Raspberries
  • 2 Tbs. Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 large Golden Beet 

Dressing (Poppy seed Vinaigrette)

  • ¼ c. Sugar
  • 3 Tbs. finely minced shallots
  • 2 ½ Tbs. Dijon Mustard
  • ½ Tbs. Salt
  • ½ c. Mayo
  • 3 Tbs. Poppy Seeds
  • ½ c. Soybean Oil
  • ¼ c. Orange Juice
  • ½ c. Apple Cider Vinegar 

Fish

  • 2 – 6 oz portions Sea Bass
  • Salt n Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. Butter

Olive Salad

  • 1 c. Kalamata Olives rough chopped
  • 1 c. Queen Olives rough chopped
  • ½ c. Black Olives rough chopped
  • 2 tsp. Garlic finely minced
  • 3 Tbs. Yellow Onion very small dice
  • 3 Tbs. Capers
  • 1 Tbs. Parsley minced
  • 1 ½ Tbs. Fresh Oregano rough chopped
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 tbs. Pepper
  • 3 Tbs. Good Olive Oil

We’ll begin this culinary adventure with a beautiful Arugula Salad.  You want to roast the beet first since it takes the longest part of the process.  Preheat an oven at 425.  Scrub the beet down under running water to get it clean, then toss it on a sheet pan and into the oven.  Roast for about 45 min to 1 hour.  To see if it’s done just stick a toothpick in it.  If the toothpick goes in smoothly with no resistance it’s done.  Put it in the cooler.  While the beet is cooling, and the oven is still hot put those pepitas in the oven to toast them.  They take about 2 minutes to toast so don’t forget about them.  I still have a bad habit of burning nuts in the oven.   After the beet has cooled completely, peel it.  You should be able to peel it with your hands.  No need for a potato peeler.  Next get out your mandoline and slice them as thin as you can.   For the dressing put the sugar, shallots, mustard, salt, poppy seeds and mayo into your mixer (with a whisk attachment) and crank it to high.  Pour the oil into the mayonnaise mixture very slowly.  

Here is a quick tip.  If you take plastic wrap and wrap it around the mixer tightly, rip a hole for pouring in liquids.   This will help keep oil/vinegar or whatever you’re adding from splashing outside of the bowl when your mixer is on a high speed.  Finishing up, slowly add in the OJ and vinegar.  Dressing done!!  

To plate the salad, toss a couple of big handfuls of arugula in a bowl.  Add about ¼ cup of dressing in the bowl and toss.  Put the salad on the plate, fold a couple of slices of beets and place them in the greens.  Pinch off a few pieces of goat cheese, a sprinkle of toasted pepitas and a few raspberries.  Voila!  

Whew!

Now for the entrée.  The Olive Salad is easy.  Just rough chop the olives.  Chop your garlic, onions and herbs.  Toss all the ingredients together.  It’s that easy.  

Sea Bass is my favorite fish and tends to be pretty delicate.  It deserves some love and attention to get the good golden brown sear you’re after.  I like using a cast iron pan but if you get the pan too hot you can scorch the fish.  If you’re feeling adventurous go cast iron but if you wanna play it safe go with a good Teflon coated pan.  Preheat the oven at 350.  Season the top of the fish with salt and pepper.  The first step with sautéing is to get your pan nice and hot.  Next add in your oil and butter.  When the butter has melted add the fish top side (the side you seasoned) down.  The trick to having a good sear is patience. Don’t let the overwhelming desire to flip it win!  Make sure to watch the bottom sides of the fish.  It will first turn white then start to turn brown and crispy.  Wait about 10 more seconds and flip.  If you are using a cast iron skillet or your Teflon pan doesn’t have plastic handles, put the pan directly in the oven.  If your pan is not oven-safe spray a sheet pan with food release spray and carefully put the fish on it and throw it in the oven.  Cook for about 5 – 7 minutes.  If you have a digital thermometer, take it out when the fish is around 138 degrees.  Lovingly place the fish on the plate and spoon the olive salad over it.  All I have to say is… you’re welcome.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

 *Photographs by Terry Wyatt