It was supposed to be about the fish:

side fish

Pristine red snapper fillets I planned to sear and serve with some sort of clean-out-the-vegetable-bin sauce.

No one bothered to tell the sauce. It arrived at the table with elbows akimbo, jostling for attention.

“Look at me!” it seemed to scream. “I’m the real star of this show.”

side sauce raw

And it was.

We dutifully ate the fish (a little overcooked, I must confess).

We inhaled the sauce.

Next time, it gets top billing.

 Veggie Bin Ragout

The beauty of this sauce is its versatility. Truly, you can use any herb, any green or any aromatic you choose. Likewise, use whatever vegetable and liquid you have on hand. Pair the sauce with fish or poultry or eat it solo, in a big bowl with crusty bread.

  • 2 leeks, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • Splash of chicken broth
  • 1/3-1/2 cup vermouth (to taste)
  • 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes with juices
  • 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, center vein removed & coarsely chopped

Film a saute pan with olive oil.

Add the leeks and season them with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are tender:

side leeks

While the leeks are cooking, place the sliced potatoes in a bowl of water to remove their excess starch:

side potatoes

Add the thyme to the leeks and stir for 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth (2-3 tablespoons) and the vermouth.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, then add the tomatoes. Lift the potatoes out of the water and add them to the saute pan. Season with salt and pepper:

side sauce raw

Bring the liquid in the pan to a boil, then lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Add the chard and stir until it’s wilted:

side chard

Turn the mixture out onto a platter and top with whatever main dish you desire. But be warned … the sauce is the real star of this show!

side dish