This meal brings me right back to an unassuming little bistro in Lichtenberg, France, where I enjoyed one of the greatest dining experiences of my life so far. My companions and I were walking through the village, we were hungry, we looked through a wide picture window and saw people having lunch, so we stopped. Ending up at this particular bistro was really as incidental as that. What followed was a spectacular dining experience! Between my companions and I, we sampled many dishes. My favorite was a mild whitefish paired with perfectly prepared zucchini and a creamy polenta. Here is my attempt at recreating this experience. I hope you enjoy!
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup water, 1 cup yellow cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/2 teaspoon crushed herbes de provence. Add mixture to boiling water and stir for two or three minutes, until mixture thickens. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove cover and stir in 2 ounces of chevre cheese. Keep covered until ready to serve. Chevre Polenta will remain hot for 20 minutes or so. If you need to reheat this, dish onto plates and microwave (it will burn if you try to reheat on the stove).
Grease a large baking pan with shallow sides. Line the baking pan with six thick slices of citrus fruit (lemons, limes, or oranges). Top each citrus slice with a 4 ounce tilapia filet (these are very economical when purchased frozen – just allow to thaw before baking). Sprinkle a bit of herbes de provence over each filet, and sprinkle with a little bit (a few drops per filet) of fresh lemon juice. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until fish is white and flakes easily.
Saute 2 thinly sliced shallots in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add 3 cups of thinly sliced (1/4 inch or slightly thinner) zucchini and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently but gently. After 2 minutes, add 1 or 2 finely chopped shiitake mushrooms. The mushrooms are for flavor, not substance – you don’t need a lot. After 2 or 3 more minutes, when the zucchini is softened and fragrant, remove from heat. Sprinkle with about 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and a little bit of herbes de provence. Prepare your plates and enjoy!