Hospitality is an important ministry of Benedictines, but also with that comes the need for a spirit of flexibility! You never know when a guest can appear needing a meal or a place to spend the night. Being a Type-A personality and a perfectionist, this gift is not something that comes naturally to me. My life at the Villa was a wonderful time for me to breathe and let God take the reins.
It’s a place where I hear the gentle guiding voice of the Holy Spirit.
We had some special guests coming to stay at Villa Via Sacra, and as usual, we had many other things that felt equally important going on at the same time. I thought I should plan a meal that could be prepped, held, and baked at the last minute, so that we could be free to do all of these things, but still sit down and enjoy a meal with our guests, so I prayed about what should be served. Nothing immediately came to mind, which was frustrating! I needed answers, I didn’t have time to waste, and most importantly, I had to go grocery shopping! I guess God was teaching me something.
Then one day, not too long before they arrived, this recipe came to mind, and it felt perfect. The guests were older, it was a hot day. They would be traveling for a couple hours before arriving, and I knew they would be very tired. This recipe is light, easy on the stomach, and pleasing to the eye. It turned out to be a wonderful, relaxing meal and a lesson to me about depending on God’s timetable, not my own.
COOK TIME: 20 mins
PREPARE TIME: 45 mins
READY IN: 65 mins
1fennel bulb tough outer parts discarded, diced
1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
2 tbsp butter melted
1 tsp fennel flowers or crushed fennel seeds
1 garlic clove(s) minced
1 orange(s) peeled, sectioned, and diced
1 orange(s) zest and juice
1 lemon(s) zest and juice
1 cup bread crumbs toasted
6 fillets of sole or plaice, or any flat white fish
½ cup white wine
2 tbsp fennel fronds or flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In medium skilled, over medium-low heat, sauté the diced fennel in the olive oil until barely tender, about 3 min.
Turn off heat and stir in the fennel flowers or seeds, then the garlic.
Stir in the orange sections, and half of the citrus zest (reserving other half for garnish), and 2/3 cup of breadcrumbs. Remove from stove.
Top each fillet with a layer of fennel mixture, gently roll up and secure with a toothpick if desired.
Arrange the rolls in a 6 x 9 inch baking dish.
Drizzle with the melted butter and ¼ cup of wine, and sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs.
Bake uncovered for 20 min. or until the sole has white edges and the crumbs are browned. Do not overcook!
While the sole is baking, combine the juices of the lemon and orange along with the remaining ¼ cup of wine. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and let the sauce reduce for 10 minutes.
Remove the fish from the oven. Spoon the citrus juice mixture on top of the fish and garnish with the reserved zest and fennel fronds or parsley, and serve immediately. Andiamo Mangiare!