Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette

pepper jelly vinaigrette 1

The other day I was wandering through Whole Foods waiting for a salad inspiration to hit me (sometimes I have a plan for my “salad of the week”…other times I let my shopping trip make the decision for me). 

There was fresh summer corn on sale…what could I do with that?!  I instantly thought of the roasted corn grits at Zea, not sure why…I hardly ever eat there! (I also thought about this sweet corn ice cream I’ve been eying…need to make that ASAP!). Both ideas were vetoed…I was going for something a little healthier : )

But it did lead me to thinking about Zea’s pepper jelly vinaigrette which I also love.  How perfect?  A salad topped with grilled corn and pepper jelly vinaigrette!  Inspiration!  I found an organic brand of pepper jelly, grabbed 2 ears of corn, got everything else on my list, and headed home. 

A quick Google search lead me to realize that John Besh has a recipe for pepper jelly vinaigrette in My New Orleans, which I have.  This recipe is loosely based on his…although I used less oil and swapped his red wine vinegar for apple cider vinegar (Zea’s version has AC vinegar).

The salad pictured has grilled corn, slow roasted tomatoes (minus the Italian seasoning), yellow bell pepper, romaine, chicken and feta.  I added shredded carrots and green onions on a different day. 

It’s summer in a bowl!  Make it soon though, before the sweet corn is gone!

pepper jelly vinaigrette 2

Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette
adapted from John Besh’s My New Orleans*

makes 1 cup

1/4 cup pepper jelly, microwaved at 10 second intervals until melted
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (red wine would be fine)
1/2 cup oil (I used half EVOO and half sunflower**)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Add all ingredients to a jar and shake to combine.

Per serving (2 tbsp) – 145 calories, 13.5 g fat (1.4 g saturated), 6 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein (exchanges: 2.5 fats, 1/2 sugar/other carbohydrate)

* JB also added 1 teaspoon of sambal chile paste, which would make it spicier…I omitted it for 2 reasons…1) I don’t like things too spicy and 2) I didn’t have any

** sunflower oil is what I use for my neutral flavor oil (canola would be another option); it would be just as good with all olive or all neutral too

Monday, July 02, 2012

Tilapia Baked in Foil with Zucchini and Tomatoes

Foil Fish 11

I love it when I find a recipe and instantly know a) it’s going to be delicious and b) it’s going to be a regular in the quick weeknight meal rotation (along with midnight asparagus & creamy eggs and eggs baked in roasted tomatoes…I obviously have an egg obsession).

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This is a Cooks Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen recipe….which NEVER fail (this gratin is from the same publication and is just as delicious!). It’s one of my long standing magazine subscriptions. I have 2 of their cookbooks that I swear by…The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook and also the healthy version.

Foil Fish 4  Foil Fish 5Foil Fish 6  Foil Fish 7

I’ve used tilapia every time I’ve made this, but ATK says you could use cod, haddock, red snapper, halibut, and sea bass as long as the fillets are 1 to 1¼ inches thick.

Foil Fish 8

To speed up the process, I salt the zucchini and make the tomato mixture ahead of time (at the beginning of the week if I plan on having this multiple times throughout the week) and store it in the fridge. Then the morning of, I take a frozen fillet out of the freezer (frozen fish is a staple in my freezer) and defrost it all day in the refrigerator. At night when I get home from the studio, I assemble it as the oven pre-heats, and bake it for 15 minutes. Easy and quick!

Foil Fish 9

The recipe has very little added fat (not that fat is a bad thing!) and uses produce that’s in season right now…tomatoes, zucchini, and fresh herbs (although I used dried…can’t wait to have a herb garden again!).  I also added sautéed mushrooms the last time I made it which made it EVEN BETTER if possible!

Foil Fish 10

Tilapia Baked in Foil with Zucchini and Tomatoes

Makes 4 servings (it’s really easily halved too!)

1 pound zucchini (2 medium), ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
Salt and pepper
½ pound tomatoes*, cored, seeded, and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I omitted this)
4 tablespoons dry white wine
4 skinless tilapia fillets (or others mentioned above), 1 to 
1 ¼ inches thick (about 6 ounces each)
¼ cup minced fresh basil leaves (optional…I also omitted it because I didn’t have any)
Lemon wedges for serving

Toss sliced zucchini with ¼ teaspoon salt in a colander and let drain for 30 minutes (it will release about 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid). Arrange zucchini on a clean dish cloth (be green!) or a triple layer paper towels and pat dry pressing firmly to remove as much liquid as possible.

Meanwhile, combine chopped tomatoes, oil, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes (if using), ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl. Pat fish dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

Cut eight 12-inch sheets of foil; arrange four flat on counter. Distribute drained/dried zucchini among center of foil sheets, in two overlapping rows. Pour 1 tablespoon wine over each pile of zucchini.

Place one fillet on top of each zucchini pile, then top each with ¼ of the tomato mixture.

Place second square of foil on top of fish; crimp edges together in ½-inch fold, then fold over two to three more times to create a packet about 7 inches square. Place packets on rimmed baking sheet (overlapping slightly if necessary).

Bake packets 15 minutes. Carefully open foil, allowing steam to escape away from you.  To test for doneness of the fish use a sharp tipped knife to gently prod it…it should flake apart easily when done. Using thin metal spatula, gently slide fish and vegetables onto plate/bowl with any accumulated juice (the liquid is so good…don’t skip it!); sprinkle with basil. Serve immediately, passing lemon wedges separately.


* I’ve used all types of tomatoes…cherry, creole, etc…use whatever looks the best to you!

** The packets may be assembled several hours (not days) ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to cook. If the packets have been refrigerated for more than 30 minutes, increase the cooking time by 2 minutes. Open each packet promptly after baking to prevent overcooking.

** As I said above, I’'ll eat this for a whole week and am only cooking for myself…so I prep the zucchini and tomatoes ahead. Then each night (or afternoon) I assemble a single packet.

Per serving: 267 calories, 10 g fat (2.3 g saturated), 7g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 36 g protein (2 fat, 5 protein, 1/2 veg)