I’m dedicating this month’s recipe to my dear, late father-in-law, Gwinn.
Gwinn didn’t have a Greek bone in his body, but he was a full-blooded Hellenophile. His passion for all things Greek dated to a magical journey he made as a young man. While there, he became enchanted with the history, the culture, and the Aegean, but most of all the people and their unparalleled zest for life. Once he retired, he and my mother-in-law, Joan, would make an annual 2-week voyage there, and stay with friends he had made almost a half-century earlier.
Back home in Baltimore, aspects of Greek culture would pervade the remaining 50 weeks a year. Grecian artifacts decorated their house. Each evening before dinner, my in-laws would raise a martini glass to one another and toast “stinygiasou!” (“to your health”). A Greek salad followed the main course every single night at dinner. Gwinn was tapped for a commission whose mission was to return the Elgin marbles (properly called the Parthenon marbles, he would want you to know) from the British Museum to Athens. They even named their cat “Melina” after the famous Greek actress-cum-politician Melina Mercouri.
So when their first grandchildren came along in 1991, there was no question what Gwinn and Joan would be called–“Pappou” and “Yiayia” would ultimately become doting grandparents of six.
I particularly miss Gwinn this time of year, because it was in August when the entire Owens clan would gather for vacation in Little Compton, Rhode Island, a place Gwinn loved dearly. From the front porch overlooking the Atlantic, every evening we’d raise a toast to one another, and laugh and visit before retiring inside for a leisurely dinner, often seafood.
I’m grateful to Gwinn for sharing with me his love of New England and passion for Greece, where I hope his son and I might visit someday, perhaps for our 30th anniversary next year.
Most of all, I’m grateful to him for being an adoring father-in-law. Never once in the decades our lifespans overlapped did I whiff the faintest hint of judgment or disapproval that taints so many in-law relationships. Just the opposite—he’d often turn to Paul and tease, “How did you get her?”
I never had the chance to serve Pappou my Greek Snapper, but he would’ve loved it. “The best fish I’ve ever eaten,” I like to think he’d proclaim. He was fond of superlatives.
Stinygiasou, Pappou! This recipe is for you.
Pappou’s SnapperCourse: MainDifficulty: Easy
Delicious prep for any flaky white fish; serve atop orzo pasta to soak up the yummy sauce.
4 red snapper fillets, or other white, flaky fish. (I use Publix, frozen wild caught red snapper filets)
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
4 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano or 2 Tbs. chopped fresh
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 14-oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. sliced Kalamata olives
2 Tbs. capers (optional)
1/2 cup diced feta cheese, or to taste
1/2 lb. orzo pasta for serving (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- In a large, ovenproof saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add onion and saute until soft, about 4 minutes
- Add garlic and saute 30 seconds; add red pepper and oregano and cook additional 30 seconds
- Add white wine, bring to a boil, and simmer until most of the liquid is gone
- Add tomatoes, olives, capers, and salt to taste. Simmer over medium heat until flavors blend, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and nestle fish fillets down in sauce; (alternatively place fish fillets in an oiled casserole, and then pour sauce over).
- Place on center rack in preheated oven and cook for about 12 minutes.
- Remove from oven, top fillets with feta, then return to oven for an additional 5 minutes; if desired, broil for 1 minute (watching carefully) to lightly brown the feta.
- Serve over prepared orzo pasta.