As many of you know, my roots on my mother's side are Cajun, and Catholic. So Lent was always a big deal in our house, growing up. There was always fish or seafood on Fridays. I preferred the seafood; the fish we usually could afford either had many tiny bones or freezer burn.
My first trip to New Orleans was a real treat, and what I remember best was the Oysters Rockefeller. All the major food groups on a shell. I still love them today, and whenever I see fresh oysters inland, that's usually how I prepare them. If I'm on the coast, or the Northern Neck, I just open them and sip them up. (Note to my West Coast and Gulf Coast friends: If you ever get a chance to sample Rappahannock River oysters, don't pass them by. They are exceeding tasty and mild little treats.)
But if oysters are not available, this vegetable dish is the next best thing.
Spinach with Pernod
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
4 cups fresh spinach leaves, cleaned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Pernod
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and stir for 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cover. Cook until wilted, two to three minutes. Add the salt, pepper and Pernod. Cook, uncovered, for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and serve. Makes 2 servings.
Want to get really fancy? Use only the tablespoon of olive oil in the recipe above, then in another small skillet, sauté about 1/4 cup of bread crumbs in a tablespoon of butter and sprinkle over the spinach before serving.