In which the world of culinary hedonism is explored with a cup and a half of curiosity, a heaping tablespoon of passion and a dash of clumsiness.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sixty-sixth Post ~ "Italian Classics"-Inspired Tilapia

This post could be titled "An Ode to Wegman's Italian Classics." I have had a long-standing love-affair with Wegman's Italian Classics seasoned breadcrumbs. Just the right amount of parmesan. Just the right amount of basil. Just the right amount of salt. My habitual "comfort food" dish of late has been chopped chicken tenderloins rolled in these savory morsels and sautéed in EVOO... but I have found yet another use for them: fish!

In the mood for something home-cooked yet quick this evening, I grabbed a fillet of tilapia as I zoomed through Wegmans. At $1.87 for this hearty serving, tilapia is not just yummy - it's cheap! I had intended to do something fun with the leftover cilantro and lime I had in the fridge, but my attention was grabbed by something in the chilled prepared pasta aisle - Wegman's sun-dried tomato and basil pesto. Who could resist something that enticing? Into my cart it went. So here's what you'll need for this meal:

~ Fillet of tilapia (light and flaky is the key - you could probably substitute halibut, monkfish or catfish as well)
~ Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
~ Wegman's (or your local wonder-market) sun-dried tomato and basil pesto
~ Green beans
~ Scallion
~ Jarred (or crushed) garlic
~ Coarse-ground sea salt

Dump some frozen french-cut green beans into a pot with some water. Snip in one scallion and some jarred garlic. I couldn't even be bothered to crush any fresh garlic tonight. Scallions are one of my new favorite on-hand items. They add so much flavor to a dish without being overwhelmingly oniony. Let those simmer until they're done to whatever level you like your beans cooked. I like french-cut green beans al dente, so I turned them off just about as soon as they really started simmering.

Into a pan put a little jarred garlic and about a tablespoon of olive oil. Start it heating. Generously coat the tilapia fillet in the seasoned breadcrumbs and set it carefully into the hot oil. As I flipped it, I would sprinkle some more breadcrumbs over it so that it gave it a little extra crispiness.

As soon as the fish is done (it won't take long!) serve it on a plate and spoon a bit of the pesto over it. A little goes a long way - believe me! I saran-wrapped the rest of the pesto and put it in the freezer - I am envisioning it tossed with some pasta (tortellini?) along with some breaded pork tenderloins for a quick and savory dinner sometime in the near future.

I added a little butter to the beans, topped the tilapia with pesto and served it with a Chenin Blanc from MAN Vintners of South Africa - a gift from Nozomi and her husband. It was fresh and citrussy but heartier than a Sauvignon blanc. It paired with the lighter tones of the tilapia but also stood up to the zesty, savory quality of the pesto. A good match!

Yours in the love of good food, wine, and occasional culinary shortcuts,

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.