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Summer Salad with Lime Vinaigrette Dressing

July 15, 2012 Menu, Salads 1 Comment

After spending the entire Fourth of July holiday weekend at the grill cooking up all kinds of meats, it was time to get back to some healthier eating. I picked up some tilapia and some crabmeat, but wanted to do something fun and different with it. I decided to add it to a fresh-tossed salad along with a home made lime vinaigrette dressing. Worked perfectly! The light and flavorful fish complemented the fresh-tossed red leaf lettuce, tomatoes, and olives, and the lime vinaigrette added the perfect summer zing.

Use this recipe as a basic template, and change it up to your liking. Not a fan of tilapia or crabmeat? Try some fresh cooked salmon. Not a fish fan? Go with chicken! Is romaine your favorite lettuce? Go for it! Looking to make it more of a meal? Fill a pita or a wrap with the salad!

Just stick with the lime vinaigrette….trust me.

 

 

SUMMER SALAD WITH LIME VINAIGRETTE DRESSING
adjust ingredients and amount to your liking 

1 head of romaine or red leaf lettuce, chopped
black olives
cherry tomatoes
fresh chopped red onion
Parmesan crusted tilapia (see recipe below)
1 can lump crab meat

Combine all  ingredients. Top with Lime Vinaigrette Dressing (recipe below), and a dusting of parmesan cheese.

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
Lightly coat two pieces of tilapia with olive oil. Lightly coat each side with salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Broil in oven until flaky.

Lime Vinaigrette Dressing
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Stir all ingredients together.

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The Mamma Meets the Cucina: The Feast of the Seven Fishes

From the Mamma…

Christmas Eve’s Feast of the Seven Fishes or “La Vigilia” comes from a long standing Catholic tradition of avoiding meat on the vigil of (vigil = the night before) the Feast Day of Christmas. Tilapia is a favorite meatless dish in our house, which is why I chose to highlight it for this blog post. Now, our family might not have ALL seven dishes include fish, but we will throw on some shrimp fra diavolo, even if it is served sans capellini as an appetizer. But the tilapia and the pasta dish are a staple for us on Christmas Eve. It’s yummy enough to impress the crowds of friends and family, but easy enough to handle as we quickly end the game of Scopa and rush to Midnight Mass! So give these a try – even if it’s not for La Vigilia – they make a great accompaniment to each other.

PARMESAN CRUSTED TILAPIA
This recipe is one of easy, healthy , and tasty all at the same time. Even kids are huge fans – whaddaya know?! A kid-pleasing fish dish without the word “stick” in the title!

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated romano cheese
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
4-6 tilapia loins

Coat the tilapia in the melted butter. Mix all dry ingredients. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Coat the tilapia i the bread crumb mixture. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve immediately with a side of GEMELLI PASTA!!

CHRISTMAS EVE GEMELLI
This dish is so simple, yet full of flavor. The red and green of the tomatoes and the arugula make a great addition to the Christmas tablescape.

1 lb. Gemelli pasta
1 can crushed tomatoes
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
e.v.o.o.
1 bag arugula
salt
pepper
crushed red pepper

Add 2-3 tbsps of e.v.o.o. to a large, deep skillet. Saute the garlic until light caramel in color. Add the arugula and cook until slightly wilted. (NOTE: you could use spinach here if you do not like arugula. The idea is to get the green color and an added distinct flavor) Remove and set aside. Add the crushed tomatoes, crushed red pepper, salt & black pepper to taste. Simmer for 20 minutes or so. Boil the gemelli till al dente. Just before draining, add the arugula back in. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve immediately.

From the Cucina…  

My family has been celebrating Christmas Eve with the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes for as long as I could remember, and of course many years before that. For years, our meal would consist of most of the traditional dishes, such as baccala soup, smelts and shrimp. Non-fish dishes, such as spaghetti aglio e olio (garlic and oil) and chicken cutlets would also be served for those not-so-much into seafood. Over the past few years, my cousins, my brother and sister-in-law, and myself have been stepping up to help relieve our aunts and Grandmother from the heavy kitchen duties, while at the same time trying to update the menu a bit with some more modern dishes such as seared scallops and crab cakes. However we still make sure to keep some of the traditional staples in the rotation.

This year I am very proud and honored to be taking over one of the crown jewels of the table, stuffed calamari. Now chances are that many of you are only familiar with the more popular Italian eatery appetizer, fried calamari. Unlike the fried rings, stuffed calamari is actually using the whole calamari tube, stuffed with a breadcrumb and cheese filling, and cooked slowly in a pot of red sauce (I don’t use the word gravy here because there is no meat involved). When cooked, they resemble a stuffed shell, and they are tender enough to cut without a knife!

If you have never tried stuffed calamari, I encourage you to do so. Whether you serve it along with pasta or on its own, I guarantee you it will make for a special part of your meal, especially if you are planning to celebrate a traditional Italian Christmas Eve.

STUFFED CALAMARI
Makes 8-10 pieces

1 lb. calamari tubes, cleaned (you can purchase cleaned calamari tubes in the freezer section of your grocery store)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 teaspoon parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Olive oil (enough to add to mixture until proper consistency)
* you can also chop the unused calamari tentacles and place them in the stuffing mixture for extra texture and flavor. Uncooked shrimp will also work well

Sauce Ingredients
1 29oz can tomato sauce, plus 1 can water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a large pot, sauté garlic in heated olive oil. Add tomato sauce and sauce seasonings. Add water until desired consistency. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the temperature to simmer.

Mix stuffing ingredients, add oil and mix with hands until you get a nice, meatball-like consistency. Using a spoon, loosely stuff each calamari tube. You don’t want to pack the tubes, because the stuffing will expand and the calamari will shrink when cooked. Secure the open ends of the tubes with a toothpick. Add the tubes to the sauce, cook on a medium-low simmer for 2 hours. You’re looking for a string cheese consistency when you slice into the calamari. Serve and enjoy!

– We would like to wish all of our readers a happy and peaceful holiday and the warmest wishes for the New Year. Buon Natale!
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Grilled Tilapia Tacos

May 27, 2010 Entrees, Menu 1 Comment

Is it Memorial Day weekend again? Already? I hate to use the old cliché that time flies…but slap a Superman cape on the clock! The good news is that it’s officially grilling season. I use ‘officially’ lightly, as I have many friends who are die-hard, year-long grill masters.

I am sure that many of you are planning a cook-out at some point this weekend. If so, try to think beyond the old standbye burger and dog. Yes, they are great on the grill and one of the best summer traditions, but don’t be afraid to have some fun. If you look at some of my posts from last year, you’ll find some good suggestions that have become grill-out staples for me.

For this season, my first grill-out suggestion is a fun, yet very healthy dish: grilled tilapia tacos. Tilapia is a very delicate and flaky white fish, with a very mild, not-so-fishy taste. It’s also inexpensive. Because tilapia will flake when cooked, you can risk having it fall apart while removing it from the grill. I suggest grilling it in an aluminum foil pouch. The foil pouch will allow the flavors of any seasonings to marry together, and will also help retain the moisture, so the fish will not be dried out. No flipping necessary.

I recommend using soft corn tortillas, quickly heated up on both sides on the grill. For toppings, fresh cole slaw mix works best. You get a variety of veggies that are nicely shredded and add a delicious crunch. I also recommend adding a drizzle of a nice citrus based dressing, salsa (I have a go-to pineapple salsa that is killer for this!) or a bottled marinade (garlic-lime or tequila lime marinade would work well). Top with a bit of fresh cut mango, and you’re all set.

Disclaimer – steel drum band music not included

Happy summer!

GRILLED TILAPIA TACOS

4 pieces tilapia
2 lemons, sliced and zested
olive oil
sea salt & fresh ground black pepper
corn tortilla shells
1 bag shredded cole slaw mix (found in the bagged lettuce section of your grocery store)
Your choice of citrus based marinade, salsa or dressing
1 mango, cut into small cubes.

Place one piece of uncooked tilapia on a piece of aluminum foil twice the size of the fillet, drizzle with olive oil and season with some sea salt, fresh ground black pepper and lemon zest, top with a slice or two of fresh lemon. Fold the foil over and seal edges with a double fold. Repeat with remaining pieces of tilapia. Place the pouches on direct, medium-high heat for approximately 10-12 minutes.

After you remove the foil pouch, be very careful when opening it. Lots of steam will escape. DIscard the lemon slices, remove the fish and flake it up with a fork, then place it on a dish for serving.

Meanwhile, quickly heat the corn tortillas on the grill just until the get warm. If they stay on too long, they will not fold properly.

Layer the tortilla shells with some tilapia, a bit of cole slaw mix, top with a drizzle of your marinade preference, add a few pieces of mango. Fold up and enjoy.

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Lenten Meals Part 2: Baked Tilapia with Shrimp Stuffing

March 18, 2010 Entrees, Menu No Comments

Another great dish to make during the Lenten season is Baked Tilapia with Shrimp Stuffing. Tilapia seems to have become the ‘go to’ fish over the past few years, holding it’s own along with flounder, shrimp, salmon and tuna. I wanted to try something other than traditional baked tilapia, and found this recipe on the web a few months back. It’s fairly simple to prepare, is very healthy and makes for a nice presentation. Serves well with steamed asparagus, rice and a nice glass of white wine.

BAKED TILAPIA WITH SHRIMP STUFFING
courtesy of applecrumbles.wordpress.com
(click here for original recipe posting)

Serves 2

1.5 fl oz Lemon Juice (or use juice of 1/2 a lemon)
8 large cooked Shrimp, chopped small
1 tbspn Olive Oil,
1 tbspn Scallions (green onion), chopped
2 cups fresh Baby Spinach
1 tspn Minced Garlic
1 tbspn Parmesan Cheese, grated
4 pcs. (4oz ea) Tilapia filet
Old Bay Seasoning, (about 1 tsp)
Sea Salt and Fresh ground Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven 425F
Squeeze/sprinkle lemon juice over tilapia and set aside.
Chop the shrimp small.
Heat oil in saute pan over med. hi heat.
Add chopped green onion, garlic, spinach, you can add sea salt & pepper if you want, to taste.
Simply toss until spinach begins to wilt … about 1 – 2 min. Add shrimp and turn off heat.
In a baking dish sprayed with non stick spray or coat with olive oil (I usually line a foil baking pan with aluminum foil for easy clean up), place 2 pcs. of fish side by side.
Sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning…Not Too Much!
Top fish with the spinach/shrimp mixture, spreading evenly on top.
Top that layer with your other 2 pcs. of tilapia and sprinkle with Old Bay, salt & pepper to taste, and 1/2 TBS parmesan cheese on top of each fish assembly.
Bake about 20 minutes or til cooked through.

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