We're finally back from Brazil (I didn't want to leave!), and now I have a cold. Nothing will stop me from cooking, though! My Nonna (grandma) cooked us wonderful lunches, and I'm trying to replicate these before I forget them! Most of the food down there is not vegetarian, but there are a few pescetarian recipes. Nonna is Catholic, and eats fish on Fridays, so this was our Friday lunch. Lunch in Brazil is a much bigger affair than dinner, and it makes sense. Eat most when your belly's fire burns and when your metabolism is at its peak! Most of our lunches started with a pasta dish and was followed by meat, a cooked vegetable, and a raw vegetable. Every meal ended with dessert consisting of fruit. I felt so good eating these satisfying midday meals that I want to continue it here in the US, but it's so hard to make yourself such a lunch when you work all day! I can try to continue the tradition at dinner, but in smaller quantities.
This dish was a creation by Nonna based on a Portuguese dish where white fish (salted cod) is baked on top of potatoes so that the potatoes can absorb the fish's liquids and salts. She used raw tomatoes and a thin, delicate white fish and layered everything in a casserole dish, topping it with cheese. She used olives to replace the salt not found in her fresh fish. My version is a little different, because I'm not fond of white fish and because I happened to make some fresh marinara today. I used Halibut instead of white fish (such as tilapia) and marinara instead of tomatoes, onions, and garlic. My husband thinks it turned out better than Nonna's, but it's really just different :-)
Baked Halibut with Potatoes, Red Peppers, and Marinara
Serves 3 or 4
1 1/2 cups fresh, homemade marinara (I used a recent recipe from Cooking Light and substituted canned tomatoes with 5 pounds of fresh, peeled tomatoes and chicken broth with veggie broth. I am using the rest of the marinara for other dishes)
3 small potatoes, peeled, boiled, and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 red pepper, cored and sliced
1 pound halibut fillet
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In an 8 inch square baking dish, coat the bottom with olive oil. Place a small amount of marinara to cover bottom. Top with a layer of potatoes (using all the potatoes). Then layer 3/4 of the red pepper, olives, and more marinara. Settle fish fillet in the dish and top with remaining red pepper, olives, and marinara. Top with cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until cheese has browned and fish is cooked through.