Zesty Lemon Spaghetti (with Cod Confit)
Back in the 90’s, “Fat free!” “No Fat!” “Low Fat!” were great food marketing terms because we were somehow led to believe that cutting fat from our diets was good for you. Even though I was in elementary school, I remember the height of this Fat Fear. We now know eating and staying healthy is much more complicated than that because this fear, some experts have suggested, may have actually fueled other health problems like diabetes and obesity.
The idea of confit, cooking food in oil, is still a little frightening to some because we tend to associate that with deep frying and high fat. As a child of the Fat Fear era, you can’t help but think “Doesn’t that add tons of calories?” “Isn’t that bad for you?” Nope! Serious Eats has a great explanation for this:
"One common misconception many folks have about confit is that it is necessarily a fatty food. That food is submerged in fat for hours, so that fat must make its way inside, right? Not so. Indeed, the fat is largely a surface treatment for muscles. While it is true that it may find its way between the larger muscle groups and will cover the entire piece of meat in a thin layer of fat, it will not penetrate very far into the meat itself."
Confit may be intimidating to make but it’s always fun to try and be able to say you’ve actually confit’ed something.
Adapting the Nuno Mendes (of London’s Chiltern Firehouse) method for confit, I ended up making three pounds of cod because I broke the filet pieces too many times. As a result, I have a lot of delicious fish with a savory umami flavor from the kombu, a kelp. It would be kind of boring to just eat cod for the next couple of days so I tried to think of other ways we traditionally eat cod. The first thing that came to mind was lemons. And then it was lemons and Parmesan. And then it became Parmesan and pasta…which led to cod, lemons, Parmesan, and pasta.
If you’re all who’s got time for that confit shit?!, you can just forget about the fish and make the pasta.
Vermicelli with Harissa, Zucchini, and Olives
Do you ever look at a word you just wrote/typed and it looks meaningless? And how it sometimes looks absolutely wrong even though Google and spell-check says it’s spelled correctly? I spent way too much time today staring at “vermicelli” while writing this post. Semantic satiation: ruining writing since forever.
I really like harissa so I’ve been trying to incorporate it more into my dinners. One of the ideas I wanted to try was to use it in pasta.
It’s spicy, tangy, and savory but the zucchini add a nice lightness to the dish. Without the vegetable, the chickpeas might make the dish too heavy but I like the texture of it so much that I didn’t want to take it out of the recipe. It’s also the main protein for this vegan dish! Yeah, you read that right: this dish is vegan.