Already in this column, we’ve talked about the magic of quick-cooking boneless chicken thighs and shortcut-ready bulk Italian sausage, but the real weeknight-winning protein is a fish fillet, especially a generally-forgiving skin-on trout fillet, cooked in browned butter and served with equally-quick spinach and toasted almonds. Also known as trout almondine, this sneakily easy, elegant meal is prime for a 5:30 Challenge transformation.
There are just a few tricks for this dish. Making the browned butter first allows you to use it to cook both the spinach and the trout, spreading its nutty richness all around. Toasting the nuts alongside the fish, saves time and an extra pan. And the final trick, cooking the fish primarily skin side-down, is simply good cookery.
The result is a streamlined dinner that looks far fancier and more challenging to pull off than it appears, both a fine special occasion supper and a last-minute Thursday dinner.
You don’t, by the way, need to use a nonstick skillet for cooking the trout, although it does make the dish slightly more foolproof. If you don’t have one, or you’d rather not use one, you simply need to make sure to get both the skillet and the oil hot — twist the pan around and look for the oil to make shimmery, wavy lines as it cascades around the pan — and, again, slide the fish in skin side-down. Let it sit, undisturbed, until crisp and brown and it’ll flip with ease.
To make this dish a more complete meal, serve it with quick-cooking couscous on the side. This, you should start before you begin melting the butter. Everything below cooks lickety-split, and you won’t want to turn your attention away.
Per serving: 443 calories (percent of calories from fat, 63), 38 grams protein, 4 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 31 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 130 milligrams cholesterol, 573 milligrams sodium.
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