Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen: Memorable dishes that deserve to be duplicated

By JANINE GILBERTSON June 26. 2018 9:33PM
Summer Vegetable and Cod Simmer (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Every now and then when I go out to eat or buy prepared food to take home for dinner, I come across a dish that I can’t get out of my head — a dish that’s so good I try to recreate it, or that sets the bar for similar dishes I try somewhere else.

When I was in college in Hawaii, I worked at an upscale European bistro that served a tender filet mignon drizzled with a cabernet demiglace. The demiglace was phenomenal; it was rich and thick, and had so much flavor that just a few drops on the tines of your fork with a bite of the wonderful filet was heavenly. I’ve never found anything quite like it — and the restaurant is now closed, so there is no going back.

Another dish I fell in love with a couple of years ago was an interesting pasta salad I bought while browsing the deli case at a health food store. There was something about the tiny, precise way the vegetables were diced and paired with the short macaroni that caught my attention. It also had fresh herbs, and the dressing appeared to have a mustard and mayonnaise base; it was slightly yellow, which made the colors of the vegetables pop. It was tangy and delicious and I occasionally try to create it.

I love putting this dish together because I don’t mind taking the time to mince the vegetables; cooking relaxes me and makes me feel productive, like I am doing something worthwhile. (Feeding yourself and your family healthy food is always worthwhile in my book). I’ve come pretty close to attaining pasta salad nirvana, but tried a new twist on the latest version I made. I used a gourmet jalapeño mustard in the mayonnaise-based dressing and it added some serious tang to the salad. It’s a good thing I snapped a couple of pictures before everyone had access to it, because it was wiped out in a day.

On a night when I didn’t have as much time to put dinner together, I came up with an easy mushroom zucchini pasta dish. I had picked up some porcini mushroom pasta and decided to sauté some baby bella mushrooms along with some zucchini and capers. The gourmet mushroom pasta was well worth the splurge, because fancy pasta can really elevate a dish and is a nice break from plain packaged noodles.

If you’re looking for a healthy fix-it-and-forget-it kind of dish, try simmering some fresh white fish (I used cod) over a stew of summer vegetables.

Add a little vegetable bouillon for added flavor, along with some herbs and spices, and you will have a simple and delicious summer dish.

I haven’t made any progress or even come close to replicating the demi-glace of my dreams, either while cooking at home or dining out but creating my own version is on my to-do list, and of course I will share the recipes.

Summer Vegetable and Cod Simmer

1 lb cod, cut into 4 portions

2 tbsp butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup water

1 zucchini, sliced

1 summer squash, sliced

1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp vegetable boullion paste

3/4 cup water

2 slices lemon

1 shallot, diced

1/2 cup assorted fresh herbs, such as cilantro, chives and parsley

2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated, if desired for garnish

Add the butter to a heavy, lidded skillet and set over a stove on medium heat.

When butter is melted, whisk in the bouillon, water, lemon juice and garlic.

Add the zucchini, squash and tomatoes.

Set the cod on top of the vegetables, sprinkle salt and pepper over the fish and vegetables to season, the add the lemon slices and herbs on top.

Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and continue to simmer over medium to medium low heat for about 35 minutes, until the fish is no longer translucent and is cooked throughout and the vegetables are tender.

Garnish with parmesan cheese.

Micro Veggie Pasta Salad (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Micro Veggie Macaroni Salad

1 lb macaroni pasta, cooked and drained

1 1/2 cups carrot, minced

1 cup English cucumber, minced

1 red bell pepper, minced

3/4 cup purple onion, minced

3/4 cup zucchini, minced

3/4 cup summer squash minced

For the dressing

3/4 cup mayonnaise

4 tbsp jalapeno mustard

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tsp celery seed

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 cup fresh herbs, such as thyme and parsley, minced

Add the macaroni, carrot, cucumber, pepper, purple onion, and zucchini to a large bowl and stir to combine. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. 

Pour the mayonnaise dressing over the macaroni and vegetables and stir to coat well before serving.

Porcini Mushroom and Zucchini Pasta with Capers (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Porcini Mushroom and Zucchini Pasta with Capers

1 lb package of porcini mushroom pasta, cooked

2 lb fresh baby bella mushrooms, rinsed and halved

2 cups zucchini, sliced

1/2 cup capers

3 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp white wine (optional)

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Cook the pasta according to package directions. 

Add the olive oil and butter to a large saucepan set over medium high heat. Once oil is heated, add the garlic and cook for about one minute, until garlic starts to brown.

Add the zucchini, mushrooms and capers and sauté until the mushrooms are softened, about 7 minutes. 

Add the white wine and sauté for an additional 2 or 3 minutes then season with salt and pepper.

Add the pasta to a large serving bowl and pour the mushroom and olive oil mixture over the top. Add the basil and Romano cheese and toss gently to coat the pasta before serving.


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