Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fiesta Tilapia

Introducing my Fiesta Tilapia - the most colorful, over-the-top healthy, tasty dish you'll ever make that will feed a family of four (or more!) for under 15 bucks!

So here's what's in it: tilapia fillets with cilantro pesto, steamed in parchment in the oven with a confetti of colored bell peppers and Anaheim chili, diced juicy tomatoes and fresh niblets of sweet white corn. All topped with a creamy orange sauce and a squeeze of lime. And then just to keep the good times rolling, I served roasted sweet potatoes on the side, as well as a spicy arugula salad, dressed simply with olive oil, lemon juice, and a sprinkling of good freshly-ground sea salt. And honestly, the whole meal cost less than an upscale cocktail at one of our local watering holes (I'll list the costs with the ingredients just to prove it!).

Cinco de Mayo and the fresh flavors/vibrant colors of Mexico were the inspiration for this dish, so if you're looking for healthy way to celebrate the holiday, look no more (and with a dinner this healthy and inexpensive, you can justify -and afford - a margarita or two!). I served this dish to four grown men with meat-n-tater palettes and got nothing but rave reviews - that's cause enough for a fiesta!

Fiesta Tilapia
  • 1 pound tilapia fillets ($4.99)
  • 1 bunch cilantro ($1.29)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed ($0.19)
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced ($1.99)
  • 1 Anaheim chili, seeded and diced fine ($0.18)
  • 2 colored bell peppers ($1.94)
  • 1 fresh ear of white corn, niblets removed ($0.29)
  • Grated orange zest, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Orange sauce, recipe to follow
  • Lime wedges, for serving ($0.20)
In a food processor, pulse together the cilantro and crushed garlic with a drizzle of olive oil. Add a pinch of salt, to taste. Brush the cilantro pesto mixture onto the tilapia fillets. Place individual fillets in the center of rectangle pieces of parchment paper (big enough to fold into an envelope around the fish and other ingredients). In a mixing bowl, toss together the diced peppers, tomatoes and Anaheim chili with the corn niblets; divide the mixture equally and add to the top of the fish. Grate the zest of an orange on top of all ingredients. Seal up the parchment into envelope packets by folding in the center across the top, and rolling in the side edges. Staple the edges closed if needed. Place parchment packets on a baking sheet and place in a pre-heated 400-degree oven. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from parchement packets and serve with a drizzle of the orange sauce and a wedge of lime. Be careful when removing contents of parchment; steam will escape.

Orange sauce:
  • 1/2 pint cream ($1.19)
  • 1/4 cup butter ($0.44)
  • The juice of 1 orange ($0.49)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest, or to taste
  • Salt, to taste.
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cream has reduced by 1/4. Add the butter, orange juice and orange zest; stir to melt. Continue to simmer until the sauce has thickened and reduced by half. Season with salt to taste.

Side dishes:
  • 2 sweet potatoes ($1.29), peeled and cubed; coat with olive oil and roast in a 400-degree oven until soft
  • 6 ounces arugula ($1.99); tossed with a light coating of olive oil, fresh-squeezed lemon juice ($0.49), and freshly-ground sea salt to taste.
Grand total for entire meal, feeds 4: $14.97

1 comment:

  1. We just found your blog (directed to it by Joanne) and made the Fiesta Tilapia tonight. So good! My husband said he wasn't excited about eating fish but loved the recipe and is looking forward to the next thing we try from here.