Relaxing rainy day here today in Pennsylvania. I spent the morning excitedly planning out the garden! With spring just around the corner and an expanded garden for the season ahead, I am chomping at the bit to start my seeds and dig my little paws into freshly tilled soil. Every corner of my expanded space is now reserved and after a morning pouring over notes on various tomato varieties found myself hungry for the pure heavenly taste of my garden tomatoes. Given the chilly weather still outside my door, I peered into my fridge hoping for inspiration. Spying some fresh tilapia fillets, I soon found myself plotting out not another garden bed – but a way to use my jarred tomatoes from last season with my fresh fish. And walaa…thanks to my little jar of capers from Pantelleria, I had my inspiration. This recipe is super simple to prepare and takes less than 30 minutes….barely enough time to enjoy a glass of wine while making…hah! The tomatoes combined with the capers and oregano add a bit of a Sicilian twist. For some variation, throw some black olives in the mix or perhaps, in the spirit of Pantelleria, some chopped raw almonds or substitute mint for the parsley. However, and this is important, make sure you really take your time as you prepare the sauce so you have plenty of time to enjoy and savor that glass of wine…..
Sicilian Tilapia with Roasted Lemon Asparagus
For the Tilapia:
1/4 cup capers, salt-packed or vinegar brined
About 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 pound tilapia fillets (or other firm fleshed fish)
About 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup flour (I use whole wheat all purpose.)
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Pinch of hot pepper flakes
1 (14.5 -ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon good quality dried oregano
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
For the Asparagus:
2 bunches of asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
Prepare the Tilapia:
-If using salt-packed capers, rinse in water. Place capers in small bowl with red wine vinegar to cover. Let sit until ready to use below.
-Season flour with salt and freshly ground pepper in a shallow bowl. Dredge the fish in the seasoned flour. Shake off excess.
-Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute the fish until golden brown on each side. Remove the fish once browned and set aside.
-Using the same pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes, stirring, until garlic is lightly browned.
-Add the tomatoes and capers and simmer for about 3 minutes to allow the tomatoes to thicken slightly. Add the parsley and oregano and stir. Season with salt and pepper. (Careful on the salt – the capers are already salty so taste before you add the salt.) Simmer for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
-Put the fish back in the saute pan. Spoon sauce on top of fish. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon. Cover and simmer gently over low heat until the fish is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Alternative cooking method: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a baking dish. Place the fish, once browned, in the baking dish. Ladle sauce on top once prepared. Add the lemon juice. Bake until the fish is done, about 10 minutes.
-Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Toss the asparagus with the olive oil and lemon juice in glass baking dish or sheet pan. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
-Roast until tender, turning occasionally, about 12-15 minutes, depending on thickness of stalks.
Plate the dish: Place asparagus spears crosswise on plate. Lay one piece of fish on top the asparagus. Ladle sauce atop fish. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley. Serve and enjoy…….