Our chilly spring slowed things down at the farmers’ markets, but now everything is green! This is the first spring dish I make when the explosion of vegetables begins. I love it because it celebrates the season and because I can load it with as many vegetables as I want. It is classy and elegant—and healthy without being spartan.
The success of this dish rests on taking your time cutting the vegetables into bite-size pieces so they become tender and give up their flavor quickly. They don’t have to be identical in size, but they do have to fit on a spoon. Make this when you’re in the mood for some meditative knife work.
For the green sauce, use any combination of soft herbs that you like—such as parsley, coriander, chives, dill, tarragon, mint—or just use one. But stay away from more assertive herbs like sage, oregano, and rosemary. They will overpower these delicate vegetables.
Once the veggies are prepped, it all comes together in the time it takes to roast the fish—no more than 15 minutes. It goes like this …
For the green sauce:
2 cups of soft herbs
1 garlic clove, grated or micro-planed
2 T capers, drained
2 T Dijon mustard
Juice of ½ lemon, or more to taste
1 cup olive oil
For the ragout: This list is a suggestion, use what you like and what is available.
1 ½ cups diced new potatoes
1 ½ cups green beans, diced
1 fennel bulb, tough outer leaves removed, cored then cut into eighths and each eighth diced
2 cups fresh peas, shelled
1 bunch asparagus, bottom third of stalk peeled and entire stalk sliced
6 radishes, quartered and sliced
1 bunch spring onions or scallions, sliced
1 bunch enoki mushrooms, about 3 ounces, trimmed and pulled apart into small bundles
1 small head of butter lettuce, sliced thinly crosswise into chiffonade
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine or vermouth
3 Tablespoon cold butter
For the fish:
2 pounds cod cut into 4 portions, seasoned with salt and pepper, in a roasting pan ready to go in the oven.
(Of course, many types of fish would be delicious here. I wouldn’t go with an oily fish, but that is a matter of preference.)
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Put all ingredients for the green sauce in a blender or food processor and blend till smooth. The sauce should be softly spoonable. Thin it with water if necessary, and taste for seasoning. Set aside. (Refrigerate if you are making more than 2 hours ahead.)
Bring the stock and wine to a simmer in a large shallow 3–4 qt pan.
Pop the fish in the oven. Roast for 10 minutes per inch of thickness. (10 minutes should do it for just about every piece of cod I’ve ever seen.)
Add the potatoes and green beans to stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Add all other ingredients except lettuce and simmer another 4 minutes. Add the butter and stir constantly to blend in. The butter will emulsify, slightly enriching the texture and flavor of the ragout. Stir in the lettuce and remove from heat.
Remove fish from oven. Ladle the ragout into 4 shallow bowls. Gently place a portion of fish on top of each bowl. Generously spoon green sauce on fish.
Serve immediately with more green sauce for the table and, you guessed it, crusty warm bread.
P.S. Leftover green sauce is for whisking into a vinaigrette, slathering on a sandwich, as a dip for chips and carrots, and on and on.