I created this dish when I was a little short on fish; I decided to serve it over pasta to make the protein go farther. The spices in the fish stew are added with quite a light hand. You can ramp them up if you like, but I prefer to let the flavors of the vegetables, fish, tomatoes, and wine come through.
leek, cut in half lengthwise and sliced thinly
cloves garlic, minced
bulb fennel, diced
saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
flounder or other white fish, cut into 2-inch pieces
Heat the oil in a medium Dutch oven over low heat. Add the shallot, leek, and fennel, and cook for 15 minutes, until all the vegetables are very soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, then turn the heat up and add the wine. Let it come to a boil, then return the heat to low, cover, and let the vegetables cook for 5 minutes, until very tender, checking periodically to make sure there’s still plenty of liquid in the pot
Add the salt, tomatoes, saffron water, smoked paprika, cayenne, and 1 cup of water. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Let simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes, partially covered, to let the flavors meld. Taste for salt.
While the stew is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the spaghetti. Put the pasta in about 5 minutes before adding the fish to the stew. Cook according to package directions, then drain and toss with a tiny bit of olive oil
Add the fish, toss to distribute, then cover the pot and cook 2-4 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Mix in the red wine vinegar.
Scoop a portion of spaghetti onto each plate. Distribute the fish stew evenly over the pasta. Sprinkle with parsley and grind lots of fresh pepper. Serve hot.
I'm the founder, editor, and head chef at the blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen (www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com), a site dedicated to easy-to-execute recipes and stories from a quarter-life kitchen. I'm also the author of In the Small Kitchen published in 2011.