Saturday, April 2, 2011

First Days of Spring and Fish Casseroles

Dear Tricia, On this first day of spring, I'm going to experiment in my kitchen with fish. I have tilapia, salmon, tuna, and cod. I'd like to do some sort of casserole....because I'm a girl, I'd like it to be mildly healthy. Suggestions?

Yes.  My first suggestion is to not make a casserole.  I know, I know... I pimp out old school delights like lil' smokies and meatballs with ketchup and grape jelly like there's no tomorrow, but I have some reservations about telling you to throw a bunch of fish and random leftovers in a casserole dish and call it dinner: it makes no sense.  I LOVE seafood, and I firmly believe it should be eaten with a tad more dignity than that.  (Not that you can't whip up a batch of your grandmother's tuna noodle casserole and enjoy it with gusto- but you're not writing me about tuna noodle casserole.  And I probably can't compete with her recipe.)  I just don't think you should diss the fish.  No one likes a fish disser.

I can however, tell you how to make a really easy fish recipe in a casserole dish.  It's no muss, no fuss, and super healthy.

Any of those delightful fishies in your fridge will work for this and measurements are for 1 filet.  So if you want to cook 4 filets, multiply the recipe by 4:

Preheat your oven to 400.

Have the following stuff ready:

Half a shallot
5 cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half and ready, and mix them with 2 teaspoons of capers.*
1/8 cup vegetable or chicken stock; or white wine

Put about a tablespoon of olive oil in the casserole dish.  You don't need to spread it out to cover the whole pan.  Just pour it in the middle.

Mince the shallot.  (Mince means cut it really small.  I don't want to insult your knowledge, but some people just don't know.)  Spread it in out in the olive oil in the shape of the filet of fish you're using.

Then season the fish with salt and pepper.  I don't like to tell you how much because some people like to use a lot of salt, and some people like to go heavy on the pepper.  Use however much you like.

Put the fish, seasoned side down, on the shallots.  The top it with the tomatoes and capers. Pour about another teaspoon of olive oil on top of the fish/tomato/shallot delightfulness.

Pour in the white wine or stock.  Bake this for about 12 minutes (depending on how old your oven is, or how done you like your fish.  Tilapia is thinner, so it'll probably be done in less than 10 minutes.)

Squeeze a wedge of lemon over it and it's done.  You can also chop up some fresh herbs and sprinkle them on top for a little color and extra bright flavor.  This can be eaten by itself, or on top of a bed of cooked spaghetti squash.  Cooking spaghetti squash is super easy: you just poke a bunch of holes in it and stick it in the oven for an hour.  (Some people microwave it because it's faster.  I like to put my oven to work.)  Then you cut it open, scrape out the seeds, and run a fork over the strands of squash to loosen them.  It's like fake pasta.  Seriously, I haven't eaten pasta in almost 2 years because spaghetti squash is such a decent, low carb, low calorie substitute.  5 ounces has something like 40 calories.  It's one of those foods where you're pretty much burning more calories by chewing it than you are actually digesting.  Move over celery, you've just been replaced!

So that's your quick and easy fish in a casserole dish.  Fish in a dish.  I'm suddenly feeling very Dr. Seuss-like.   It's not a traditional casserole, but it's hella fast and it only requires 5 ingredients.  In fact, when you look up the definition of the word, all a casserole is is "food cooked in a casserole dish."  So I guess I've done my job here.  And I guarantee it'll impress the gentlemen more than tuna noodle.   (Hey, I don't make the rules, I just pass them along to you, my dear readers.)

On a side note, there are some big things happening with the blog in the next week.  Keep checking back for some sweet surprises!

*Capers are something I used to hate. They're a floral bud from bushes in the Mediterranean that are pickled.  They can be a little salty and sour, but I like them with fish.  You can sub these out with chopped black or green olives, or maybe go sweet with some golden raisins.  There's no rules here- have a martini and start playing around with it.


Anonymous said...

I love that the word hella was used in this blog entry!!

rebecca said...

i'm totally stealing this. i am an avid hater of fish (unless it battered, deep fried and served with vinegar and a side of 'chips') but i'm always looking for single serving fish dishes to make for the hubby. he will appreciate this greatly.

Jessica said...

As soon as my cherry tomatoes are ready, I'm totally making this! It looks awesome. Only respect, no dissing.

Michelle said...

Word! I am totally making this dish this week. I shall respect the fish!

Suzanne said...

Tuna casserole is never a win. Must be avoided at all costs.

Tricia Lewis, author said...

Glad you all liked this one! Let me know how your fish dishes sans dissing worked out!