Several years ago, I was tasked with hosting a group of colleagues here in Northern Virginia and the venue for dinner needed to be close by. I very rarely go out to eat, so I asked friends for recommendations, and the restaurant called “Coastal Flats” came to the forefront. The special fish dish for that evening (that I ordered and enjoyed), has inspired me ever since, and this is a variation on that memory. The key to making this is to slowly sauté the onions and fennel…then add the tomatoes and pine nuts. After that step, turn the heat up and toss in the spinach only for about 10-15 seconds. The spinach should remain bright, vibrant, and just barely wilted—not “cooked” at all. The dessert is one of my favorite ways to enjoy grapes and the “dip” is easily made ahead.

Grilled mahi-mahi served on a bed of sautéed onions, fennel, diced tomatoes, and pine nuts, with barely wilted spinach; brown rice; grilled bread
Grapes tossed with a “dip” of sour cream, brown sugar, lemon juice, and ground pecans