sole piccata with green beans (Beautiful Bones)

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recipe: sole piccata (sole with browned butter and capers) with green beans

May is “National (USA) Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month” and Susan (Food Blogga) is hosting a food event to encourage people to pay attention to their calcium intake. Here is my contribution to:

Beautiful Bones: An Osteoporosis Food Event

sole And SAVEUR magazine comes through again! The recent special issue on butter (no.109) is, as usual, full of fantastic recipes and ideas. But the one that really struck us was Sole à la Grenobloise. It’s fabulous!

We loved it so much the first time we had it that we had it again two nights later. And we may just have to have this two nights from now – even though it does call for a lot of butter. (But butter is good for us, right? It’s loaded with Vitamin A!)

The sole itself does not contain a lot of calcium, so I thought by adding green beans to the recipe, it might push the dish into the category of calcium rich food so it could qualify for Susan’s “Beautiful Bones” Osteoporosis food event.

(click on images for larger views and more photos)

Here is how to make (arguably) the best fish dish you’ve ever had:

Sole Piccata with Green Beans

serves two

based on a recipe for Sole à la Grenobloise in SAVEUR magazine (no.109)

  • sole filets, skinless
  • seasalt & pepper, to taste
  • ¼ c (60ml) milk
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • ½ c (120ml) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp capers, drained
  • good shot fresh parsely, chopped
  • green beans


  1. Salt & pepper the sole. (We bought frozen sole filets and defrosted them overnight in the fridge.) Put them into a shallow dish and cover with milk. (We didn’t have milk left in the fridge, so used skim milk powder and water.) Set aside.
  2. Peel the lemon and cut away any white pith. Remove each segment by slicing between the membranes. Cut half of the segments in thirds. Set aside.
  3. Put flour onto a plate; season with seasalt & pepper. Set aside.
  4. Heat grapeseed oil in a frying pan to medium high. (The SAVEUR recipe calls for clarified butter. We decided to save our arteries some of the stress and use grapeseed oil instead.) Remove fish filets from milk and dredge both sides in flour. Shake off excess and lay the fish in the hot oil. Cook, turning once, until it’s golden (about 2 minutes a side). Transfer the fish to plates, cover with lids to keep the fish warm.
  5. Add butter to the frying pan and cook it over medium high heat until it turns brown and smells nutty (2 to 3 minutes). As the butter cooks, use a spatula to scrape up any bits of fish left in the pan.
  6. While the butter is browning, steam green beans for 3 minutes or til al dente.
  7. Watch carefully that the butter doesn’t burn! When it is browned nicely, remove it from the heat.
  8. Stir lemon pieces, capers and some of the parsley into butter mixture. Spoon over sole.

Serve fish immediately with green beans flanking it. Garnish with the rest of the parsley. Boiled new potatoes (we like unpeeled red skinned potatoes) and crisp white wine go very well with this.

sole I did mention that this was the best fish dish I’ve ever had, didn’t I? (Well, maybe not the only best fish dish I’ve ever had; there’s also Bengali fish curry, grilled salmon steaks with green pepper corn mayonnaise, breaded fried fish with tartare sauce, crabcakes, soupe de poisson, etc. etc.) But trust me, on the nights that we were eating it, it was the best fish dish I’d ever had. But don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself and see if you don’t agree.

Granted, with the sole at only 2% daily calcium allowance, this dish may not exactly fall under the calcium rich label. But I’m hoping that the added parsley, butter, milk, lemon and green beans (not to mention the potatoes), all of which have at least some calcium, served with the fish might tip the scale… :lalala: (Capers don’t appear to contain any calcium.)

Let’s see now…

  • sole (at 2% daily calcium allowance (DCA))
  • parsley (at around 1% DCA)
  • butter (at 3%?? DCA)
  • milk (at 14% DCA)
  • lemon (at 6%?? DCA)
  • green beans (at 12% DCA)
  • potatoes (at 3%?? DCA)

Why, if my calculations are correct, that works out to roughly 40% of the daily calcium allowance. Errrm… wait, that’s if one person eats all of that… But if TWO people eat it, that’s 20%. That still seems pretty rich, doesn’t it? :whee:

Importance of Calcium, Vitamin D and Exercise

Are you among the 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men who will be affected by Osteoporosis?

It’s astonishing just how many people have osteoporosis and how many of us risk contracting it. And don’t be fooled. It is not just a “woman’s disease”. My dad has osteoporosis; my mother does not….

Many people are at risk. Are you?

Osteoporosis Canada recommends that “all postmenopausal women and men over 50, and all individuals over the age of 65 be assessed for the presence of risk factors for osteoporosis“. But why wait til you’re 50 or 65? Assess the risk factors now and take steps to ensure that you don’t contract osteoporosis simply because of negligence. It’s important to ensure that you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D. And don’t forget to exercise regularly!

Much of the food we buy is labelled. For food that does not have an attached label, the internet is a great source of information. Here are some tips on how to find out about the nutrition content in various foods as well as how much calcium, Vitamin D and exercise we should be getting to prevent the onset of Osteoporosis:

excerpt from Fight Osteoporosis Now: Nutrition Facts Label

Nutrition Facts labels […] can help you easily find high-calcium foods. Here’s how:

  • Look toward the bottom of the label where you’ll see calcium listed with a percent. (Calcium content won’t be listed if the food does not have much calcium).
  • This number is the “Percent Daily Value,” or how much of one day’s calcium that food provides.
  • Percent Daily Value is based on 1000 mg of calcium/day […]

[L]ook for foods that are “good” or “excellent” sources of calcium.

  • A “good” source of calcium is 10-19% Daily Value (DV)
  • An “excellent” source is 20% DV or more

excerpt from US FDA: How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label

Experts advise adult consumers to consume adequate amounts of calcium, that is, 1,000mg or 100%DV in a daily 2,000 calorie diet. [… and …] that adolescents, especially girls, consume 1,300mg (130%DV) and post-menopausal women consume 1,200mg (120%DV) of calcium daily. […]

[Y]ou can’t make assumptions about the amount of calcium in specific food categories. Example: the amount of calcium in milk, whether skim or whole, is generally the same per serving, whereas the amount of calcium in the same size yogurt container (8oz) can vary from 20-45%DV.

excerpt from Health Canada: Food and Nutrition

[International Unit (IU), Adequate Intakes (AI), Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL)

IU/day Vitamin D
19-50 yrs – AI:200, UL:2000
51-70 yrs – AI:400, UL:2000
70+ yrs – AI:600, UL:2000

mg/day Calcium
19-50 yrs – AI:1000, UL:2500
50+ yrs – AI:1200, UL:2500

…] These are reference values for normal, apparently healthy individuals eating a typical mixed North American diet.

excerpt from Public Health Agency of Canada Osteoporosis – Info-sheet

Calcium is not easily absorbed by the body without vitamin D. Sunlight is the main source of natural vitamin D […] a daily supplement of 400 to 800 IU may be recommended (especially in Canada where there’s little sun intensity during the winter months).

excerpt from Osteoporosis Canada FAQs

It is important to make sure you are getting the recommended amount of calcium every day – from food sources, if possible. Because Vitamin D is crucial to calcium absorption, it is also important to get the required amounts of Vitamin D. Osteoporosis Canada recommends the following intake of calcium and Vitamin D every day to maintain strong bones:

Age Calcium Requirement Vitamin D Requirement
4-8 800 mg 200 IUs
9-18 1300 mg 200 IUs
19-50 1000 mg 400 IUs
50+ 1500 mg 800 IUs
pregnant or
lactating women 18+
1000 mg 400 IUs

excerpt from Osteoporosis Australia

Vitamin D is found in small quantities in a few foods (eg fatty fish – salmon, herring, mackerel, liver, eggs, fortified foods). However adequate vitamin D is unlikely to be achieved through diet alone. […]

To get enough sunlight to produce vitamin D, a person needs to expose their hands, face and arms (around 15% of body surface) to sunlight for about 6 – 8 minutes, 4 – 6 times per week (before 10am or after 2pm Standard Time in summer, for moderately fair people). […] Older people need exposure to sunlight 5-6 times a week. Dark skinned people need longer exposure times of around 15 minutes.

Regular exercise is just as important (even more important if you like to eat as much butter as I do…):

excerpt from Osteoporosis Australia

Regular physical activity on a long-term basis has a particularly important role in maintaining healthy bones. Exercise can maintain and increase bone strength by increasing bone mass or by slowing age-related bone loss. Muscle strength is also increased, which is important for supporting the joints and preventing falls. […]

Everyday ways to increase your level of weight-bearing exercise:

  • walking some or all of the way to work,
  • including some hills or specific exercises in your daily walk,
  • using stairs instead of lifts.

excerpt from Osteoporosis Canada

The amount of time that you exercise each day depends upon the intensity and the type of activity. In general, try to do your activity for 30 – 60 minutes each day. You can break your weight-bearing and resistance exercise sessions into as little as 5 – 10 minute segments and still derive benefit from the activity. Incorporate physical activity into your daily life: Walk to the store, take the stairs more often, etc.



Beautiful Bones: An Osteoporosis Food Event

Food Blogga: Beautiful Bones

Susan (Food Blogga) is hosting this event to alert people to the potential risks of osteoporosis and…

[…] encourage them to take steps to protect their bones at every age. […]

If you’d like to participate, then kindly follow these steps:

  1. Post one calcium-rich recipe on your blog any time between May 1st and May 31st [2008]. […]
  2. Include a link to [Susan’s] announcement. […]
  3. […]

For complete details on how to participate in the “Beautiful Bones” event, please go to:



In looking at various pages on calcium quantities and Osteoporosis, I came across this surprising (to me) fact on

1 Tbsp (15ml) of blackstrap molasses contains 180mg calcium!

That’s 18% of the daily requirement for the average adult. Well, I’ll be! Bran muffins are a good source of calcium!! Who knew?

(How incredibly remiss of me! Our recipe for bran muffins is STILL not online! I even made bran muffins not very long ago – there are still some in the freezer. Remind me to take a photograph and post about them!)


edit 1 June 2008: Susan has posted the Beautiful Bones round-up in two parts. Take a look at all the delicious sounding calcium-rich entries:

This entry was posted in cookbooks, etc., crossblogging, food & drink, main course, posts with recipes, various other events on by .

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1 response to “sole piccata with green beans (Beautiful Bones)

  1. Susan from Food Blogga

    Wow! This is a fabulous post, Elizabeth. Many, many thanks for your efforts. And 20% of your daily calcium needs in one dish? That’s wonderful. I just love a good piccata, and didn’t know that butter was so high in vit. A. Good. Now I can eat it with less guilt. ;)

    Thank you Susan. I’m glad it passes muster (I almost typed “passes mustard”…) although I’m really not positive about the 20% calcium calculation.
    Butter gets such a bad rap, doesn’t it? There isn’t really THAT much butter in this dish. If the fish is fried in grapeseed oil, it works out to a tablespoon of butter per person. We do need to eat some fat…. :-D Seriously, I’m the first to admit that this is on the high side of fat. However, according to the grapeseed oil is not only very low in saturated fat, it’s also a good source of vitamin E. The wikipedia entry for it says that eating grapeseed oil actually raises HDL cholestrol levels – I like to imagine that it cancels out the ill effects of the butter :-).
    So the dish ends up being a good source of vitamins A, E, and C as well as being calcium rich. As long as the fat is balanced out over the day, I suspect it’s aok to eat sole piccata with impunity (mostly). -Elizabeth


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