This recipe and photography was provided courtesy of local cookbook author and chef, Carla Snyder. Learn more about Carla and discover her recipes at Ravenouskitchen.com.
Now that it’s gray and drizzly outside, dinner has to satisfy in a different way. This time of year, I crave that warm comforting feeling of a hot, substantial meal that warms me from the inside out. A meal like this makes me feel safe and lucky to be looking at the cold outside from the warm indoors. The truth is, my palate is a bit fatigued by soups and stews, so when I spied ruby trout at my local Heinen’s, my drab winter-bored eyes knew it was time for a colorful plate of fish.
Where is Ruby Trout Raised and Why Should We Eat it?
At the seafood counter that day, the ruby trout was glistening red, shiny, firm and super fresh. Ruby trout happens to be a rainbow trout that has been fed a diet of shrimp or other feed that turns the fish’s flesh red. It’s a member of the salmon family, but unlike salmon, all trout sold in the U.S. is commercially farmed. Most of the trout sold here in the states comes from trout farms in Idaho and the nutrient-rich waters of the Great Lakes. Ruby trout is one of the most healthful farmed fish as it is high in Omega-3s and vitamin B-12. Omega-3s are good fats your body can’t make on its own. Salmon, sardines, tuna, herring and trout are all fish that are high in omega-3s. Rainbow trout is a sustainable, low mercury fish labeled a “best choice” by the EPA and FDA making it one of the healthiest fish you can include in your diet. Plus, it’s an excellent alternative to the often-overfished salmon.
What is the Flavor Profile of Ruby Trout?
Good-for-you is great, but the delicious taste is what makes ruby trout the perfect fish for family dinners. While trout and salmon are closely related and typically interchangeable in recipes, they do have slightly different flavors. Trout has a mild, sweet flesh that makes it simple to cook; all it really needs is a quick sauté in a pan with a little lemon and butter to bring out its delicate flavor. However, trout also makes a perfect meal when poached, steamed, baked, grilled or roasted. It’s an equal opportunity fish.
How do you Know when Ruby Trout is Fresh?
Since freshness isn’t always obvious to the naked eye, don’t hesitate to ask your Heinen’s fishmonger to point out the most recent arrivals. Fresh trout filets should be glistening, shiny and firm with no fishy smell. When buying whole trout, look for bright red gills and shiny skin. A few years ago, I was a contributor to a fish cookbook and after cooking lots of seafood for a sustained period of time, the old adage about “using only the freshest fish” became shockingly relevant. It was possible to make the most delicious meals very simply by using the freshest fish, but whenever I purchased less fresh specimens, the recipes ended up lackluster. It truly is all about the quality of the fish. When stored properly in the refrigerator, fresh fish should be cooked within two days, up to three at most, from the time it was purchased. I generally cook fish the day I buy it.
How can I Turn Ruby Trout into a Full Meal?
Now, it’s time to share two easy, but delicious, new recipes for ruby trout. The first is Citrus Marinated Ruby Trout with Grape Tomato Concassé and Goat’s Milk Feta. No, I’m not just showing off with this recipe title. Concassé is a Frenchified term for something that is coarsely chopped, usually tomatoes. It sounds so much more luxurious than sauce, doesn’t it…concassé? This indulgent week-night dinner of good-for-you ruby trout marinated in citrus and dill with a jammy, tomatoey, zucchini sauce is super easy and quick to pull together. Don’t let the fact that it’s the middle of winter make you skip tomatoes as those little grape tomatoes work beautifully and zucchini is a perennial veggie staple at our house. This recipe is simple, simple, simple, but your family will call it good, good, good.
The second recipe is even more simple and quicker. It’s all cooked on the stovetop in one skillet. Cauliflower risotto sounds exotic, but it’s really quick and easy if you buy the riced cauliflower in Heinen’s Produce Department. Riced cauliflower is already chopped really small so that it cooks quickly. A little cream makes it sinful and though not technically risotto, it makes a beautiful bed for the luscious fish. The thyme-flecked trout finishes its cooking on top and voilá… dinner is served in under 30 minutes.
These two recipes will get you started with cooking ruby trout, but any salmon recipe can easily be adapted using this versatile, healthy and delicious fish. So, give it a try. While you’re at it, let’s all give out a shout to sustainable and tasty ruby trout.
Citrus Marinated Ruby Trout with Grape Tomato Concassé and Goat’s Milk Feta
Bright with a citrus marinade, colorful fish, veggies and rich feta cheese, this standout meal is sure to brighten a bleary winter’s day. It always bothers me to throw away marinade, so I especially love how this recipe gives it a second life by pouring it over the fish and vegetables. It’s ok to do because it gets a good cooking along with the fish and zips up the flavor of the vegetables as they continue to cook and steam in their very own sauce. It’s a smart and easy way to coax more flavor out of your skillet.
It’s that easy: Feta cheese is usually made with sheep’s milk with a little bit (30%) of goat’s milk blended in. For the record, full-on goat’s milk feta is creamier than the sheep’s milk versions and slightly less tangy. Look for it in Heinen’s Specialty Cheese Department.
Start-To-Finish: 30 minutes
Hands-On-Time: 20 minutes
- 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, minced
- 1/2 orange, zested
- 3 Tbsp. orange juice
- 1/2 lemon, zested
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. salt, divided, plus more
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 to 16 oz. ruby trout filets
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1- 8-in. zucchini, trimmed quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/3 cup goat’s milk feta cheese
- Mince the dill, zest the orange and lemon and squeeze the juices. Combine all in a shallow pan large enough to hold the salmon fillets.
- Dredge the filets, flesh-side-down to coat them in the marinade, then repeat with the skin side. Sprinkle the fillets with 1/4 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Set the fish aside.
- Slice the onion and zucchini, halve the tomatoes and mince the garlic on a large cutting board in separate piles.
- Set the oven rack to the second-highest position and preheat the broiler to high.
- Heat a 12-in. oven-safe frying pan over medium-high heat and add oil. When it shimmers, add the onion and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and continue to cook, stirring until the zucchini begins to soften, about 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and garlic. The tomatoes will juice up and soften after a minute or so. Lightly smash the tomatoes and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated out of the tomatoes and the mixture is thick, about 5 minutes. You may need to lower the heat or add a few Tbsp. of water if the bottom of the pan begins to over brown. The goal is to make the zucchini and tomatoes melt together into a sauce.
- Taste and season the vegetables with more salt and pepper if needed. Spread the vegetables evenly in the pan, top them with the salmon, skin-side-down and pour the citrus marinade over the fish and vegetables. Immediately transfer the pan to the broiler and broil the fish until it flakes with a fork, about 5 to 7 minutes depending on the thickness of the filets.
- Transfer the fish to two heated plates and top it with the concassé and a sprinkle of feta cheese.
Extra Hungry? Something green would be refreshing, like an arugula salad with shaved carrot (just use a vegetable peeler), a splash of lemon juice from the unused half lemon and a glug of olive oil. If you feel like it, toss the unused orange half in the salad as well.
In the glass: Look for a bottle of Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages to pair with this meal. It has the fruit and just enough body to work with the trout. I like to serve Beaujolais a little more chilled than most reds. Just pop it in the freezer for 10 minutes while you’re preparing the meal. It should be just right by the time dinner is on the table.
Thyme Rubbed Ruby Trout with Shallot and Caramelized Cauliflower Risotto
Roasted cauliflower is one of the most delectable of vegetables and even more so when morphed into a risotto. The trick to capturing that roasted flavor is in caramelizing the cauliflower over high heat so that it browns before being tossed with a little cream. When paired with simple herb-rubbed ruby trout, it is absolutely divine. So few ingredients…so much flavor.
It’s that easy: Thyme has a woody stem, so it’s best to strip the leaves from the stems before chopping them up into a fine mince. To do this, hold the thyme sprig on the tender end and strip the leaves in a downward motion with your other hand. No worries if the tender tip pulls off. It can be minced up with the stripped leaves.
Start-to-Finish: 25 minutes
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme plus a few sprigs for garnish
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 24 oz. ruby trout, skin removed
- Salt for sprinkling, plus 1/2 tsp.
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 5 to 6 cups riced cauliflower (packaged in the Produce Department) or 1 head cauliflower, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- Mince the shallot and thyme on a large cutting board into individual piles. Measure out the cream. Pat the salmon filets dry and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the minced thyme over the fish and pat it lightly with your fingers so that it sticks. Measure out the cauliflower.
- Heat a 12-in. frying pan with a lid over medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp. of oil. When the oil shimmers, add the trout to the pan and brown it, flesh-side-down, about 2 minutes. Flip the fish with a thin-edged spatula and cook the other side for another minute. Transfer the fish to a plate. It won’t be cooked at this point.
- Add the shallot to the hot pan and sauté for 30 seconds or until it begins to soften. Add the cauliflower, the 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper and the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil, tossing until everything is coated with the oil.
- Allow the cauliflower to cook undisturbed for about 3 minutes or until it begins to brown. Scrape the bottom of the pan with the spatula flipping the cauliflower over and cook undisturbed for another 3 minutes or until it browns again. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Add the cream and give it a stir. It will boil immediately. Top with the fish. Cover and cook over low heat for another 2 minutes or until the fish flakes. If you’re wondering where the cream went, the cauliflower absorbed most of it.
- Mound the cauliflower risotto into heated shallow bowls and top it with the fish. Garnish the plate with the extra thyme sprigs if desired.
Extra Hungry? How about a salad of red leaf lettuce and halved grape tomatoes with a splash of balsamic and a glug of olive oil?
In the glass: A medium-bodied Pinot Noir is a classic pairing with this rich dish. Pinots can be pricey, but there are a few widely available bottles for under $25 such as Definitive or A to Z. If you’re more of a white wine fan, your favorite bottle of Chardonnay will be delish.