Last week, I had the pleasure of photographing the November event hosted by Fresh Starts Chef Events, a project to support Homeward Bound of Marin, a homeless shelter in Marin County, California, providing food, shelter and job training for those in need. This month’s event featured local Marin County favorite, Chef Heidi Krahling of Insalata’s and Marinitas of San Anselmo, California. She shared her delicious Mediterranean flavoured dishes, as well as recipes from her newly released book, “A Tale of Two Restaurants: Insalta’s and Marinitas.”
Locals simply love her gracious and authentic personality as well her unforgettable food, as evidenced by the number of guests that evening, which surpassed the number for any chef event to date! Her restaurants have each earned the Michelin Bib Gourmand distinction, which recognizes “good cuisine at a reasonable price.” My husband and I had visited her restaurant a few years back on a “date” night and remember the restaurant fondly.
The menu for the evening began with a delicious Haydari (Turkish Yogurt Dip), Turkish “Spoon Salad” and Handmade Flatbread. There is nothing quite like warm handmade flatbread that has been grilled and slathered with a cool dipping sauce — so good!
The haydari tasted similar to a cool tzatziki cucumber sauce, but instead of cucumbers, grated yellow beets were used, mixed with goat labne. The spoon salad was a mix of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, piquillo peppers, jalapeno peppers, garlic, italian parsley and harissa.
Chef Krahling also shared her recipe for Italian Fennel Salad. The salad was filled with red endive, grapes, kalamata olives, asiago cheese, and pine nuts. The zesty lemon shallot vinaigrette was the perfect accompaniment for the distinct liquorice flavour of the fennel.
The main dish of the evening was Swordfish with Salmoriglio Sauce.
I always thought swordfish was a very meaty, dense fish, but the swordfish we had this evening was so moist and simply melt-in-your mouth good!
Chef Krahling shared that salmoriglio sauce, a sicilian salsa verde, was something she added to everything, hence the nickname, “Heidi’s Ketchup.” This sauce is a tasty mix of olive oil, fennel, capers, garlic, lemon, oregano and parsley. I’d love to try this sauce on another type of fish, or maybe chicken or flank steak, or simply straight out of the bowl!
The swordfish paired very well with the fennel salad, and the students preparing the dishes were quite generous with the cheese — look at those strips of asiago — my favorite!
Dinner was capped off with sweet and spicy Double Ginger Pecan Cookies from the Chef’s restaurant. These cookies were the perfect sweet treat for a filling meal! The cookies were laced with cinnamon, molasses, ground and crystallized ginger and pecans.
Stop by next month for East Meets West with Chef Mei Ibach and Chef Jon Ash. This class is already sold out! Can’t wait for some yummy Asian Fusion food. In the meantime, enjoy this delicious recipe for Swordfish Salmoriglio.
Makes 6 servings
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced fennel
2 TB thinly sliced green onions
2 TB capers, drained and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped italian parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 preserved lemon, rinsed and finely chopped
1 TB finely chopped fresh oregano
1 TB lemon zest
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of sugar
For the salmoriglio sauce:
Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
For the swordfish:
1. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat grilling.
2. Arrange the swordfish on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper.
3. Grill fish until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side, depending on thickness.
Transfer fish to platter. Spoon some of the salmoriglio sauce over the fillets and serve the rest on the side.