Easy Dinner for One of THOSE Days

Autumn, or fall, if you prefer, isn’t just a time of the unending, nauseating barrage of Everything Pumpkin Spice. It’s also the last gasp of grilling for those people who aren’t lucky enough to live in California, the South of France, or anywhere in Italy, where year-round grilling on all but the blusteriest of nights is commonplace.

Please excuse my smugness, but when you live on water rationing, you have to gloat about weather awesomeness whenever you can.

I always thought when I retired, I’d have unlimited well-regulated days, with plenty of time to Create in the Kitchen. I know millions of retired boomers are laughing at me right now. What’s more common these days is spending the entire day running your ageing parent (or in my case, in-law) to various specialists, tests. or pharmacies, and  taking care of shopping or other household needs, all the while hoping you’ll hit the road to home before rush hour, and the resulting Death Commute that you retired to avoid.

Sound familiar?  Most people in this position simply dial up their local take-out delivery service before opening a bottle of wine and reaching for the bottle of ibuprofen. However, if you’re like me and those days are pretty frequent, take-out can be monotonous and not a terribly healthy option. One of the benefits of an over-programmed, travel-heavy life is a stable of easy, fast meal options I can pull out when I need it. Like yesterday…

When I’ve had a crazy-busy day, or last minute guests, this 10 minute preparation lemon-herb rub makes a piece of pedestrian salmon, or swordfish, or tuna, turn into a meal you can serve to your discriminating spouse or even your pickiest friends without a blush.

Not that I blush that easily, mind you. I grew up as the only girl in a family of boys, and that permanently disables the blushing reflex by age 12. Or maybe that was just my family.

It’s almost embarassing how easy this is.  All you need is a lemon, a few cloves of garlic and some fresh or dried rosemary. And a piece of fish and some olive oil. For these pictures, I got a tail-piece of wild Pacific salmon, and I had precisely 15 minutes before my hubby got home to prepare.image

Crush 3 cloves of garlic in a press, or otherwise garlic masher or grinder. Add two large sprigs of rosemary, stripped from the twig, or about 1 T of dried rosemary, depending on the season, and whether fresh is available. If fresh garlic is not available, an equivalent measure of dehydrated garlic soaked in water or oil works well. image

Zest the lemon, adding it to the garlic-rosemary mixture and grind as much pepper as you please. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish. Then dribble in extra-virgin olive oil over the garlic-rosemary mixture until a paste forms.

Rub onto fish and cover with plastic wrap. It should look like the cover photo for this blogpost. If you have an animal that likes to steal dinner before it’s prepared, be sure to stash this somewhere safe. I use the microwave, but only because it’s too high on the wall for my monster Maine Coon to open. Let sit for 15-20 minutes, or longer if your day went better than mine.

Lucky you.

imageNext, open a bottle of very nice white wine of your choice. Pour one glass and drink a few sips. You won’t use it in the cooking of the fish – this is just so you don’t snarl at your partner before dinner is ready, and your arm feels better. Did I mention I also got my flu shot? Yeah. It was one of THOSE days.  I broke into the Unti Vineyard’s Dry Creek Cuvée Blanc, and it was a perfect antidote to my misery.

It was really good with the fish too.

Fire up the grill or the broiler, depending on the weather. Grill or broil fish until done to your liking. Or if you’re like us, grill one piece until gorgeously medium rare, and one piece until it’s a dry, dead thing. If you’re broiling it, 8-10 minutes is best, depending on the thickness of the fish and just how dead you like it it be. Test it after 5 minutes to check doneness and adjust timing from there.

The important thing is to make sure you don’t flip the fish – grill or broil it sunny-side-up, according to the instructions for your grill. We use a natural-gas grill, so I hesitate to give instructions for that since timing varies greatly depending on your equipment.  That has nothing to do with the fact I don’t want you yelling at me because your grill took 2 minutes longer than I recommended. Nope. Not at all.

I usually serve it with fresh peas, or steamed asparagus tossed with olive oil and garlic, but you can pair it with pretty much anything green in season.

Just don’t forget to enjoy the wine.