Friday, June 15, 2012

Tomato Basil Tilapia

Better than a restaurant meal, honest!
Anyone who has hung around me for a while knows that I pretty much hate all seafood. My dislike of our little ocean-dwelling friends started at an early age. The rents took me to a Red Lobster and told me to try the cod since it was the “least fishy” tasting thing on the menu. WARNING BELLS!!!  I was gingerly picking my way through my meal when I turned over the fillet and found a bunch of scaly skin. That sealed the deal. I was DONE with fish.

Fast forward 25-plus years. I meet my husband who LOVES all things seafood. It was probably him who force fed me my first bite of macadamia-nut encrusted halibut—and to him, I am eternally grateful. (As we all know, macadamia-encrusted anything is DELISH.)

So, long story short, it’s taken me a really long time but I’m finally venturing into the world of mild, white fish. Recently, I received an email from the Betty Crocker website featuring TilapiaTomato Basil Fillets. The looked great, but my need to tinker with recipes and the fact that I didn’t have any fresh basil on hand prompted me to modify the recipe a bit. Here’s what I came up with.  

Tomato Basil Tilapia

2-3 tilapia fillets (I buy the frozen ones in bulk at Costco), thawed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3-6 tablespoons of lemon juice, or 1-2 lemons juiced (I really like lemon so I use a lot)
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes flavored with basil, garlic, and oregano (I use Hunts)
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Defrost tilapia and rinse. In a small- to medium-sized glass baking dish (mine’s a rectangular 2.2 QT), combine olive oil and lemon juice. Place tilapia fillets in lemon juice/oil mixture, turning over several times to coat the fish. Sprinkle coated fillets with dried basil. (Use as much or as little as you like. I’m pretty heavy-handed with my spices.) Spoon diced tomatoes and all the juices in the can evenly over the fillets. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and a little more dried basil. Bake uncovered for approximately 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Fish is done when it flakes easily.

Serving Suggestion:

Tomato Basil Tilapia pairs nicely with asparagus and either brown rice or quinoa.

Cooking Tip:
Want delicious steamed asparagus in 3 minutes? Rinse and break off the fibrous ends of the asparagus stalks. Place asparagus in a microwave safe baking dish. Add ¼ cup of water. If desired, squeeze the juice of one lemon evenly over the stalks. Sprinkle with your favorite seasonings (I like Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute), add a spritz of olive oil spray, and microwave uncovered for 2.5-3.5 minutes. (Times may vary with different microwaves.)

Delicious steamed asparagus--in just 3 minutes!
The Results:
Tomato Basil Tilapia has become a weekly staple in my house. Not only is the hubs elated that I’m finally cooking AND eating fish, he actually said that this dish is just as good—if not better—than anything he’s had at a restaurant. Even if you’re not a big fan of our fishy friends, try this recipe. You’ll be glad you did.

Until next time,

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