Dinner with the Hitchmans: Greek-Style Mahi Mahi and Toasted Orzo with Saffron & Fennel

We had our friends Pam and Tony over for dinner last night.

My mom will be quite surprised by the menu because it involved two ingredients I tend to avoid — dill and fennel.  But when I saw the mahi mahi recipe as well as the orzo that was suggested as an accompaniment, I decided to give them a whirl because they looked delicious and a little different.  The recipes proved to be a good gamble — everyone enjoyed the meal!

Both dishes were very easy to prepare and did not require much cooking time.  I was able to do all the chopping before our guests arrived as well as prepare the “Greek-style” sauce for the fish.  I only made a slight change to the mahi mahi recipe — I added about 1/2 cup of feta.  I figured the extra feta would boost the flavor!

For the tomatoes accompanying the mahi mahi, I picked up two beautiful heirloom tomatoes at the Manhattan Fruit Exchange in Chelsea Market.

The orzo was a nice side dish — beautiful color from the saffron and a distinctive taste from the fresh fennel.

To finish the meal, Pam and Tony brought delicious handcrafted ice cream sandwiches from Milk & Cookies Bakery.  We enjoyed our dessert with a wonderful Moscato d’Asti.  Pam always knows how to beautifully pair food and wine!  A perfect end to the meal.

Greek-Style Mahi Mahi
Gourmet, June 2009

  • 3 medium tomatoes (about 3/4 pound total), each cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 4 (6-ounces) pieces mahimahi fillet (1 1/2 inches thick) with skin
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 3 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 8 very thin lemon slices

Preheat broiler.

Toss tomatoes with 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Line a broiler pan or small 4-sided sheet pan with foil or parchment paper and lightly oil foil. Put fish, skin sides down, on pan and season with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Whisk together mayonnaise, feta, herbs, and lemon juice and spread over top of fish. Put 2 lemon slices (slightly overlapping) on center of each fillet. Drizzle lemon slices with remaining 2 teaspoons oil.

Broil fish 8 inches from heat until just cooked through, 14 to 16 minutes. If topping browns before fish is cooked, cover loosely with foil. Serve fish with tomatoes.

Serves 4.

Toasted Orzo with Saffron & Fennel
Gourmet, June 2009

  • 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon boiling-hot water plus 2 cups water, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo (9 ounces)
  • 1 cup chopped fennel (from 1 small bulb) plus 2 tablespoons chopped fronds

Soften saffron in 1 tablespoon hot water and set aside.

Cook onion in oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add orzo and toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes.

Stir in saffron mixture, remaining 2 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt and simmer, covered, until orzo is just tender and liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes.

Sprinkle fennel bulb over orzo and let stand, covered, off heat 5 minutes. Stir fennel bulb into orzo, then serve sprinkled with fennel fronds.

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