Ah, weekday dinner parties - such an adventure. Everyone's bound to show up a little late, and it's a bit rushed since no one wants to stay up particularly late, either. What to make, then, when a few friends decide they want to come over and watch a movie on a Tuesday? Something pretty quick and easy, that's what. Enter: Parchment Baked Tilapia.
I've always loved fish baked in parchment paper, but I'd never actually made it myself. The concept is pretty simple: create a small bag out of parchment paper filled with vegetables, seasonings, and what ever kind of fish you want. Seal it, and then bake it. The bag steams the fish and everything else all at once, and you get a wonderfully delicious, healthy dish.
I poked around a bit online and in various cookbooks to find a recipe, but in the end I just kind of made it up myself. This is definitely the kind of thing you could, and should, experiment with.
Parchment Baked Tilapia
Ingredients: (I'm scaling the recipe to one serving - just multiply as needed)
1 tilapia filet
1-2 oz sliced yellow squash
1-2 oz sliced green pepper
1-2 oz sliced red pepper
1-2 oz sliced white onion
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp freshly grated lack pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 fresh lemon wedge
Preheat over to 400 degrees.
Cut a large piece of parchment paper, about 12-14 inches. Fold the parchment down the middle to create a crease. On one half of the paper, place the olive oil and lay the tilapia on the oil. Add the garlic and thyme, and then the vegetables, salt, and pepper. Squeeze the lemon over the fish and vegetables, and add the squeezed lemon wedge.
Fold the other half of the parchment up and over the fish and then crimp along the edges to seal. This is the only remotely tricky part, and it's not that hard.
Once the bag is sealed, place in the over for 35-45 minutes. Remove from the over and serve the entire bag. Your diners will be greeted with an amazing steaming presentation of fish and vegetables and smells and tastes fantastic.
Man does not live on fish alone, so I threw together a quick salad as well as a potato recipe I found in a friend's cookbook. The salad was simply spring mix, diced red onion, diced tomato, and artichoke hearts with a simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, minced garlic, olive oil, and fresh lime juice.
The potatoes were from Marco Canora's Salt to Taste, which I was browsing through this weekend.
Patate alla Contadina
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 1/4 lbs)
1 large garlic clove, peeled
5 whole peeled canned tomatoes
1 heaping Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/3 cup fragrant extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup water
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, then lay each half flat-side down and cut into thirds crosswise (you'll wind up with thick half-moon slices). Put potatoes in a bowl. Grate garlic into bowl. Crush tomatoes with your hands and add them and their juice to mixture.
Then add rosemary, oil and generous amounts of salt and pepper. Mix well.
Transfer mixture to a medium saucepan and add water. Cover and heat over medium-low.
Bring potatoes to a gentle simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Give them a stir and continue cooking. Lower heat if necessary (a gentle simmer is what you want) and stir every 10 minutes until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes more.
Mix in butter. Adjust seasoning if necessary with salt and pepper and serve.
A quick and successful dinner which made for a quick and successful dinner party.