Winter Flounder (or sole) is a bountiful, seasonal New England delight, full of soul and flavor.
I am tired of root vegetables, and they are getting just plain tired of me as well. My frozen local veggies are pretty much depleted, and even the fresh from elsewhere in the country leave much to be desired. But this week I found some pretty good looking domestic organic zucchini at the co-op, so I needed to pretend it was summer just for a time. While I prefer to eat locally as much as possible, there are only so many butternut squash I want in a single season, and I think I’ve surpassed that already. I would also weaken and buy fresh strawberries right now if only they looked edible!
Always a lovely seafood
But while produce is challenging, there are really tasty and sustainable fish selections available this time of year here in New England, including two of my favorites – scallops and flounder or sole.
Tender and delicious
Winter flounder is a good sustainable choice as the stocks are ample with management in place. You will also see it referred to as simply flounder, sole, lemon sole, Georges Bank flounder, and blackback flounder. A thin, flat white fish with sweet, mild flavor, it is versatile and can be sautéed, baked, fried, stuffed, or poached, and simple preparations are best.
Let the oven do the hovering
My husband came back from the fish market this week with some lovely, inn-season filets that were quite reasonably priced. My go-to for sole is usually a quick dusting with flour, simple shallow fry in butter and olive oil, a bit of lemon and capers, parsley if you have it, and nothing could be more delicious and simple. Julia would agree. But, I thought I’d make something a little different by layering the filets over veggies and baking in the oven. Because the veggies take longer to cook than the fish, I gave them a head start in the oven before adding the treasures of the sea.
Tasty and full of soul, this dish also wins the quick and easy award as well.
Switch up the herbs any way you like! Swap a different fish as well, and it needn’t be from the sea, fresh water trout filets here would be delicious.
New England Winter Flounder with Tomatoes and Zucchini
- Olive oil
- 1 large zucchini, sliced or diced
- 4 cluster tomatoes, chunks
- Sweet paprika
- Dried tarragon or thyme
- Dried basil
- Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
- 1 lb. flounder or sole filets
- 1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan
- 2 tbsp. melted butter
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat your baking dish with olive oil and add the tomatoes. Arrange the zucchini around the edges, and sprinkle everything with paprika, a little tarragon or thyme, salt, and pepper. Pop this in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the veggies have just softened,
Place the sole on top of the veggies, overlapping to increase the thickness.
The juice from the vegetables and fish will mingle in the baking to create its own sauce.
Melt the butter, and mix with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Spread in an even layer over the fish, then drizzle all with more olive oil.
Return to the oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the fish has just cooked through and gives no resistance with a little stab of the knife. Garnish with a bit of fresh parsley or basil if available.
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