Friday Fish: Basil Sole on Greens with Parmesan Tomato Salad

As easy as it looks. Slice the tomatoes and peel the Parmesan. Then, in one pan: sauté shallots, greens, garlic, and carrot. Add wine and fish. Season. Cover and cook 3-4 minutes. 279 calorie dinner coming right up!

Truth in blogging. I somehow made this last spring, photographed it, and never blogged it–perhaps saving it for this year’s Friday Fish?  Never-the-less, I had no recipe in the files and nothing doing but I would have to make it again guessing how I’d done it and hoping it all came out right. It did look fairly simple, hmmm ….So while I do that, let’s talk a little about fish. And you.

Trout for breakfast


I have shared many American’s fear of cooking fish and over the years, as I’ve somewhat conquered that silly terror, I’ve discovered that fish is truly the simplest thing to cook. It seems the panic may lie in timing: somehow fish feels like it spoils and cooks so quickly that we barely know what to do with it.

More Time’s Colcannon and Salmon in the Little Skillet Pot for St. Patrick’s Day

So make like a boy scout and…

Be prepared:

  • Buy the fish you want (see the link below about which fish is safe…) and know when you’re going to cook and serve it (most fresh fish will hold one day in the refrigerator)
  • Choose your recipe, read it carefully over, and make sure to have all you need
  • FROZEN? Thaw frozen fish overnight in the refrigerator in the package and in another container if you have time OR
  • QUICK THAW: Thaw in a well-sealed bag in cold water for a half-hour. If not thawed in 30 minutes, change water (drain and add fresh cold water) and thaw a bit more, until thawed, changing water again if necessary. Cook immediately after thawing.
  • Set the table beforehand and have condiments, glasses, etc., there ahead of time
  • Gather your ingredients while you may! (Mise en place.)
  • Make anything that can be made before you cook the fish (salad, rice, vegetables, etc)
  • Give yourself over to ONLY COOKING THE FISH so that it gets to the table hot and cooked as you’d like it to be (no checking the phone, watching tv, taking the dog out, boiling eggs for tomorrow’s breakfast)
  • Overcooked? Forgive yourself and do better next time. Add some melted butter and lemon or, if necessary, make a fish spread out of it.  Never give up, never!

Wanting to know more?  Read on below the recipe for a little more fish info…

In fact, fish is so fast that you can spend the extra time you’ve saved setting the table…


Our dining table set for friend Sara’s birthday dinner last weekend. Everything you see on the table is from a thrift or consignment store except for two things: the silverware (Oneida from our wedding in 1974) and the Riedel Bordeaux wine glasses–right rear corner– purchased from Williams-Sonoma.

SHOPPING TIP:  I bought a pound of frozen Dover sole  fillets at Trader Joe’s for $6.99, unthawing it overnight in the refrigerator in its bag and in a container (in case of leakage). It was just right to cook the next evening.  I have also bought a larger amount of fresh sole at COSTCO and divided it into smaller portions for freezing in heavy-duty freezer bags, later using the identical thawing method.

Short on spinach for this version, I added leeks and fennel — cooking them for several minutes before adding my greens.

Whether you’re a novice fish cook or an old hand, I think you’ll enjoy this really simple sole dish. There’s little to go wrong when you cook fish on or in vegetables as they help to assure flavor, tenderness, and timing. Don’t be tempted to over season it; sole is delicate–often served with just butter, parsley, and lemon— and needs a gentle approach or it’s lost.  Warm your bowls or plates (200F 15 min); fish cools too quickly to serve it on cold plates.

Do try this:


serves 2-3

Warm plates for 15 minutes at 200 degrees F before beginning.


  • 3 small, ripe tomatoes, sliced (in winter, buy the sweet Campari tomatoes)
  • 15 very thin peels of Parmigiano-Reggiano (less than an ounce)–use your potato peeler for this
  • Balsamic vinegar for garnish, optional — add just before serving

Fish and vegetables:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 5 ounces fresh spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves plus a few more sprigs for garnish
  • 1/4 cup julienne carrots (matchstick-sized)
  • Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine or more as needed
  • 2 lemons–one sliced and one cut into wedges
  • 1 pound sole fillets, rinsed and patted dry; salted and peppered
  • Balsamic vinegar for the salad, optional

MAKE THE SALAD:  Layer each sliced tomato with several Parmesan peels on a plate or cutting board and set aside while you cook the vegetables and fish.

COOK THE VEGETABLES:  Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, deep 12-inch skillet/sauté pan and sweat the shallots for a few minutes, taking care to not brown them.  Stir in the spinach, garlic, basil leaves and julienne carrots. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, along with a pinch of crushed red pepper. Drizzle in the white wine and bring to a simmer.

COOK THE FISH ON THE SPINACH MIXTURE/SERVE IT ALL HOT: Lower the heat under the pan just a bit to medium-low. Lay the fish in a single layer over the vegetables, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and place the sliced lemon gently and evenly over the top of the sole. Cover and cook 3- 4 minutes or until the fish is just barely firm and opaque, adding a bit more wine if the spinach mixture becomes too dry.  Divide the vegetables topped with sole between the warm plates, add the tomato-Parmesan salad along with a wedge of lemon to each, and drizzle all with a tiny bit of olive oil. Add a last sprinkle of salt and pepper to the salad and a light drizzle of Balsamic vinegar, if using. Garnish the dish with basil.

Cook’s Notes:  Need more? Serve over parsley rice or quinoa, or with soft rolls or buttered new potatoes. Nutrition information at very bottom of blog.

{printable recipe}

WINE:  Chablis or an unoaked Chardonnay would be my first two choices.

DESSERT:  It’s a great time to splurge on a chocolate brownie if you’re in the mood.


Sample storage information for fresh catfish

Which fish is safe and sustainable to eat?

Details about thawing fish/seafood

Fish Cooking for you: 6 Easy Ways to Cook Fish

FDA Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures–145 F for fish

When is fish done?

Raw fish has a translucent appearance that turns opaque during cooking. Most types of fish are considered done when they’re just opaque throughout. Many people, however, enjoy some types of fatty fish, such as tuna and salmon, a little less done. These should be opaque on the outside but still translucent at the center.

–courtesy Molly Stevens, FINE COOKING


Sole on Leeks with Salad

Cooking at home is a healthy and happy way to spend your time; I’m so glad you’re doing it!  Thanks for trying a Friday Fish with me…


Basil Sole on Greens with Parmesan-Tomato Salad nutritional info from

Nutrition Facts
Servings 3.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 279
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 14 g 21 %
Saturated Fat 2 g 10 %
Monounsaturated Fat 7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 1 mg 0 %
Sodium 581 mg 24 %
Potassium 1168 mg 33 %
Total Carbohydrate 11 g 4 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g 13 %
Sugars 3 g
Protein 32 g 64 %
Vitamin A 131 %
Vitamin C 35 %
Calcium 21 %
Iron 14 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

3 thoughts on “Friday Fish: Basil Sole on Greens with Parmesan Tomato Salad

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