Flounder with kale, almonds and preserved lemons

When I was in high school, Dad bought a liquor store, and I became a liquor store employee.

Contrary to popular expectations, being a teenager in a liquor store is not a high road to debauchery. I had to be there first thing in the morning to help with beer deliveries, which also meant cleaning up from the night before. Spend enough mornings cleaning up beer puke, and you lose your taste for beer pretty fast.

Seriously, one time someone puked in the ice machine. How exactly does that happen? Well, I can tell you how to make it unhappen, and step one is having a son who you can send in to do the dirty work.

But hey, it wasn’t all bad. Among other things, I got to pass around all the swag. I had a life sized cut out of the Bartles & Jaymes guys that I used to bring to parties. Yep, I was a fun kid.

One item that got my notice was a recipe from Amaretto for flounder that was stuffed with spinach (with Amaretto in there somewhere). I decided then and there that this dish would forever be my definition of fancy.

Fast forward many years, and we have today’s recipe. It’s made with kale instead of spinach, there’s almonds instead of Amaretto, preserved lemons and some other surprises. The result was truly amazing–so many layers of taste in such a simple dish.

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Filling:
2 cups of baby kale, chopped and lightly sauted until wilted
1/2 cup almonds, lightly cracked with the back of a knife
1/3 cup bulghur wheat, soaked in hot water until soft, with extra water squeezed out
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp of preserved lemon, mashed by hand

Combine room temperature ingredients in a bowl, add
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tbs of milk powder
Salt, black pepper and 2 tsp of good olive oil

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Now before we go any further, I know that may sound like a fairly esoteric list. You can substitute a lot of things, spinach for kale, cooked rice for the bulghur wheat, green olives for the preserved lemon. The milk powder was a surprisingly important addition, as it gave the mixture real depth. You should definitely keep this stuff in your kitchen.

Place about three tablespoons of the filling on a flounder fillet, fold in half and place in a lightly oiled glass baking dish. Cover the lot and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Let stand for ten minutes before removing the cover.

Apart from drying out the fish (don’t do it!), there’s really very little that can go wrong with this dish.