Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Recipe: Cilantro-Chiptole Tilapia and Mexican Chopped Salad

Like just about everyone else out there, I'm trying to eat home more often. Not only am I trying to cut back on my rather hefty food budget, but I'm also trying to eat healthier, which is of course easier to control if I know what the ingredients are.

We never eat enough fish, but that's largely because the boyfriend is a food odor-nazi, and he refuses to let me cook fish on the range top. So I love a fish recipe that allows me to broil. You know how no one notices the nerdy girl in movies when she's all plain jane, but dress her up, give her contacts and let her hair down, and suddenly she's hot stuff? Well tilapia is pretty similar. It's boring to begin with, but with this recipe's hefty dose of chipotle and cilantro as well as a store bought pineapple salsa as a garnish, tilapia became seriously delish.

Cilantro-Chipotle Tilapia
From Gourmet - February 2009

Yield: Makes 4 servings
Active Time: 15 min
Total Time: 30 min

1 1/2 cups chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotles in adobo
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 (6-ounces) tilapia fillets

Preheat broiler.

Purée cilantro, oil, chiles with some adobo sauce, water, cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a blender until smooth, then coat fish with sauce.

Line rack of a broiler pan with foil, then broil fish 3 to 4 inches from heat until just cooked through, 6 to 9 minutes.

I served the fish with store bought pineapple salsa. The magazine provided a recipe for how to make your own, but I thought this was an easy shortcut worth taking. One important note - the cilantro and chipotle when broiled onto the fish make it look kind of disgusting. That makes the pineapple salsa all the more important - it covers up the icky brown/green coloring on the fish!

I often get lazy when it comes to side dishes because the entree take so much effort, but this salad recipe was both simple and flavorful. Even better it gave us a healthy dose of all sorts of great colorful and nutrient rich veggies. Jicama was another one of my shortcuts. Whole Foods offers already peeled and chopped jicama in it's pre-packaged salad greens area, so I opted for that rather than deal with peeling the jicamas myself. I didn't even know what a jicama looked like but I now know it's kind of dirty and tuber-like.

Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing
From SELF - July 2003

Yield: Makes 4 servings

2 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and well drained
3/4 cup chopped seeded tomato
3/4 cup chopped peeled jicama
3/4 cup fresh corn kernels, uncooked (or frozen or canned)
3/4 cup thinly sliced radishes
Half a ripe avocado, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

Honey-Lime Dressing
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 tsp chopped jalapeño pepper (use canned for less heat)

Toss all salad ingredients in a large bowl. In separate bowl, mix dressing ingredients.

Pour dressing over mixture and toss again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. These recipes were big winners, and I'll definitely be making them again! Hard to beat a meal that's actually easy to make, inexpensive, tasty and healthy!



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