Monday, January 26, 2009

Giving in ...

The following is an actual conversation that took place chez Diva on Friday night:

The Husband: Let's invite X to dinner tomorrow night. We can make some fish.

Me: But fish makes everyone so sad.

The Husband: No, fish only makes you sad.

The comedian in me would love to end this interchange with the line: "We had pork" ... but to tell the truth ... I acquiesced. I gave in. I made them some fish.

Long time readers will recognize this recipe as a variation on my Chicken Vera Cruz, but in all honesty this preparation is really best when used with fish. Naturally, I like to use a mild fish, something like tilapia, but any sturdy white fillet will do. I added some zucchini to the mix this time and it was a welcome addition indeed.

Tilapia a la Vera Cruz:
  • 3 fresh tilapia fillets
  • 1/2 pint of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbsp. good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • the leaves from 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 tbsp. jarred Marinara sauce - any brand without sugar
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise and cut into half moons
  • 10 large pimento stuffed green olives, sliced
  • some snipped fresh dill
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the grape tomatoes, shallot, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, chopped parsley and fresh thyme. Mix to combine adding a pinch of Kosher salt and a generous grating of fresh black pepper. Reserve.

Place each fillet on a large piece of aluminum foil and surround with the zucchini slices. You'll be forming a packet, so position the fish about 2 or 3 inches from one side of the foil. Spread 1 tbsp. of Marinara sauce over each fillet. Spoon the tomato/onion mixture over all the fillets in equal measure. Top with the olives and a bit of snipped fresh dill, to taste. Fold foil up and over the dressed fillets, sealing edges and sides to form a packet.

Place the packets on a large, rimmed baking sheet and bake on the middle rack of the oven for @ 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the fillets. Larger pieces may need more time, thinner ones less - you're smart, you'll figure it out. Mine were finished after 22 minutes. Remove from the oven, open the packets very carefully - as the steam will be HOT - serve and enjoy!

You can alert the media - I ate the fish ... and it was spectacular. So moist and tender and the savory topping is just flat out scrumptious! I wish I had taken a picture of the fish on the plate - but fish goes cold in .1 seconds, so we just dug in and scarffed it down! The first picture is prior to baking and the second was taken after we opened the packet. This dish is quick, easy, super healthy and makes a beautiful presentation. As written this recipe will serve three. I hope you'll try it!

Turns out that not all fish makes everyone sad. Quite the opposite in fact, we were three very happy diners indeed. This meal will make your wallet happy too. Chances are you'll have most of the ingredients on hand - and tilapia requires only a minimal investment. Its one of the least expensive types of fish. I reckon this dish costs roughly $4.00 per person ... and that's New York City pricing so it may be even less depending on where you shop. Tilapia runs about $6.99 per pound making this meal easy on both your waistline and your pocketbook. Bonus!

So, what's your favorite way to prepare fish? Curious Diva wants to know.

Bon appetite!

11 comments:

Tracy said...

This recipe sounds and looks really delicious, Diva. I will definitely give it a try. I had some wild coho salmon 2 nights ago; I just salt and peppered it, pan-seared it in a butter/olive oil combo and finished it with a squeeze of lime juice. I am trying to eat more low-mercury fish now that I am preggers and this fit the bill nicely... it was simple and delicious.

Sass said...

I need to know why fish makes you sad.

Is that kind of like me saying that I think pumpkin tastes like a bad mood?

The Diva on a Diet said...

Tracy - that coho sounds excellent. I don't usually think about mercury ... because I rarely eat fish ... but its certainly a concern for you pregnant peeps.

Sass - its *exactly* like that. LOL

pixelgal said...

My friend M. was talking about the way she cooks fish and I've been cooking it that way ever since. It's kinda like Tracy's only different. I pan sear it as well in evoo and butter, using capers, garlic and a little white wine. Sometimes I use herbs de provence as well as the juice of a lemon wedge. If I'm feeling a bit sinful I add some breadcrumbs at the end or parmesan cheese depending on my mood.

duodishes said...

You can't say fish makes you sad and then you create that dish! You just can't say it! That looks gorge, so colorful and light. We love grilled salmon orange marmalade, ginger and garlic. It is love.

Argentum Vulgaris said...

Cool fish stuff there Diva, I like Tracy's recipe too...

AV
http://netherregionoftheearthii.blogspot.com/
http://tomusarcanum.blogspot.com/
http://thingsthatfizz.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Diva - The fish definitely did not make me sad. In fact it did the opposite. Thank you so much for inviting me to dinner. It was just what I needed. I don't usually make fish at home but I will make this dish, it was easy and tasty!

Dana McCauley said...

I'm a big fish and seafood fan. Over the holidays I made ocean trout a few times (wild salmon wasn't available).

I have a whole chapter of fish recipes in my last book: here's a link to an excerpt from that chapter:

http://danamccauley.wordpress.com/2008/07/17/tips-for-swimmingly-successful-fish-dinners/

Deb said...

Tilapia two ways

1. rub with olive oil and my favorite spice rub (hot) and cook in an oil rubbed non stick pan on both sides until done.

2. hot oven, place fish in pan and combine mayo, parmesan cheese, some dijon and horseradish, salt pepper - top fish and bake until fish is flaky and cooked.

Both are great preparations easy and tasty.

Deb

Juliet said...

Cute. I laughed when I read the beginning of the post. :) Glad you had a nice (not sad) dinner. It looks really good!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Pixegal - that sounds yummy. A shallot would be nice in there too.

Duo - LOL! Love ginger and garlic in anything ... everything! And the orange marmalade is a nice addition too.

Agentum - thank you!

Anon - you're most welcome anytime. So glad the fish made you happy and not sad. :)

Dana - thanks for the great link! I'm looking forward to checking it out.

Deb - I also do a fish dish similar to your baked recipe and its delish. Pre SB days I would top it with bread crumbs, but the Parm is more beach-friendly and so tasty too!

Juliet - thanks! I'm glad I wasn't laughing alone. LOL

New recipe coming tomorrow ... stay tuned ... I just ran out of time today. :(