Healthy Comfort Cooking for Spring
Here on the east coast, we really didn’t have a winter. We have actually had some spring days that felt or were colder than our winter days. Now that it is officially spring, you probably have been dying to have that magical dinner out on the patio or deck, under the stars in fresh air, but it’s been windy, chilly, rainy — not the kind of rain that we really need — the kind that frizzes up your hair and keeps you from being able to fully enjoy being outdoors. Some nights were the kind of nights where some of your winter comfort food menus were used while you were probably salivating for that summer type light but filling fare.
This is most likely the time of year where you think to yourself about having a nice grilled dinner out on the patio or deck, maybe something light like fish, pop open a bottle of pinot grigio or some other light “deck” wine, and just enjoy being outside. Then, out of nowhere, the wind picks up and with it, comes some chilly air. The sweatshirt goes back on and now you’re bummed! You start thinking about what you could make for dinner that would be light yet filling and comforting all at the same time. How about tilapia oreganato? This is a great dish because all the chopping, mincing and prep work can be done early in the day and then when it’s time for dinner, it only takes about five minutes to put it all together and viola! It’s good, delicious and light!
Tilapia is the type of fish that can really fill you up, especially doing it the way we do it in this recipe. Two large tilapia fillets may feed two people, while two small tilapia fillets may very well only feed one. You’ll need to decide how much to buy when you decide to make this dish. As point of reference for you, when I make this dish, if for two people, I would buy a pound or slightly less than a pound of fish. AND I would double the liquid part of the recipe so that you have enough sauce to keep the fish moist — regardless of whether the pound is two fillets like the recipe below calls for or 4 fillets if that is what equals the pound or less.
2 tilapia fillets
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 or more tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
Lightly toast the panko breadcrumbs in a small amount of butter in a pan. When toasted, toss with little grated Italian cheese and set aside. Dry the tilapia fillets with paper towels and lightly dust them with flour. Heat up a large frying pan and add oil. Place fish in pan, turn after 1 minute. Cook for 1 minute and add garlic. Add wine and lemon juice and reduce for about 30 seconds. Add seasonings (salt, pepper, oregano). Sautée until fish is firm in the middle (approximately 4 minutes). Add the panko crumbs to the pan and cover for about 1 minute .
To enhance this dish, you can add mushrooms (1/2 package sliced small) and/or grape tomatoes (about 3/4 of a cup chopped) when you add the garlic. You can also garnish the dish with some chopped parsley and chopped Kalamata olives. Including these options creates a symphony of flavor!
When you know you are pressed for time or will be tired at the end of the day, have all the ingredients measured out, covered and put aside ahead of time.
To complete this meal, serve the tilapia over sautéed greens with garlic pasta on the side. Plate the tilapia by sitting it on top of the greens (make sure to just use the greens, not their liquid), then scoop on the pan juice from the tilapia with mushrooms, garlic, etc.
Several bags of baby spinach or a mild green of your choice.
You can also just use baby bok choy or any mild green you like (it should be mild green because you don’t want it competing with the tilapia for flavor). Sometimes you can find a bag of mixed chopped greens consisting of baby spinach, baby bok choy, red and green swiss chard or similar ingredients.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
In a large skillet, add several tablespoons olive oil with the raw greens and sautée gently. Just as the greens begin to wilt, add several tablespoons of minced garlic, so the garlic doesn’t brown too much while you’re waiting for the greens to cook. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Tip: When you serve the greens on the plate, try not to include any of the liquid that was extracted during the cooking process
Tri-Color Orzo or Israeli Couscous (Israeli Couscous is larger pearled couscous which is toasted pasta)
1/8 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil (optional)
Grated Italian cheese
Cook the pasta according to package directions based on the serving size. Couscous absorbs the liquid that it is cooked in, but orzo must be drained. In a microwave safe measuring cup, cook the garlic in the olive oil for 25 seconds. Add the optional tablespoon of butter to the garlic mixture. When the pasta/couscous is done cooking, drain (if pasta) and add the garlic mixture and the optional basil. Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve on the side of the tilapia.