Macaroon Crusted Tilapia

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Saturday, my grandparents came for dinner to celebrate my return to the states.  When coming up with the menu, my mom clearly instructed me, “Grandma does not like Mexican food or salmon…and I don’t know how they would feel about a vegetarian meal”.  Well after taking those instructions into careful consideration (wahhh does that mean no guacamole??), I decided on fish.  I can remember when I was a kid we would go to my grandma’s house and she would make us halibut filets and give us little bowls of butter to dip the fish in.  Healthy right? So, I decided to teach them a healthy and tasty way to eat white fish.  After searching the Pinterest boards, I came across Macaroon Crusted Tilapia from howsweeteats.com.  I LOVE this blog and I was so excited to make a sweet fish, one of my favorite things in the world.  I have previously said that I don’t like coconut, but the exception is when it is cooked with fish.  For some reason, for me, this is the perfect combination.  But enough rambling back to the fish!

I ended up doubling the recipe because I was cooking for six people.  This recipe is SUPER EASY.  All I had to do was grind up my almonds, season the fish, and coat it with the egg whites and the sweet and crunchy mixture.  I baked the fish for 20 minutes, and I think anymore time would have made it way too dry.  I served the fish with lemon, as suggested, and it really packs a big, flavorful punch.  It honestly is necessary!   Everyone was impressed by the fish and it is even great as a leftover!

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RECIPE

Macaroon Crusted Tilapia

serves 4

4 tilapia filets

3/4 cup almonds (or about 1/2 cup almond meal)

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425.

If the almonds are whole, grind in a food processor until they are coarsely ground. Mix almond meal with coconut thoroughly. Season tilapia filets with salt and pepper liberally. Dip each tilapia filet in the egg whites, then coat with the almond/coconut mixture. Lay on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. If desired, spritz with olive oil to help the crust brown.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and fish is flakey.

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The lemon is crucial!

For side dishes, I stayed pretty simple, but with a little twist.  First, I decided on Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnut Vinaigrette.  Brussels sprouts get a bad rap.  They are that traditional disgusting vegetable in children’s books that mean babysitters are trying to force kids to eat against their will, so therefore the entire world hates them. I thought I would give the outcast vegetable a second chance.  The recipe calls for grilling the brussels sprouts, but I just steamed them because it was pouring outside and I was not about to stand in the middle of a monsoon for some vegetables, no matter how desperately I was trying to make people love them.  Most people overcook brussels sprouts, making them mushy and slightly brown.  I avoided this, steaming them to a crispy, green perfection.  I then mixed up the vinaigrette just like the recipe says, although I substituted toasted almonds for hazelnuts since I already had them leftover from the fish.  I also only used 1/4 cup of olive oil because half a cup would have drenched the sprouts.   1/4 was even a bit much.  Let me just say the sprouts were delicious.  They were flavorful, crisp, and not at all disgusting.  I really want to make them again, actually grilling them this time.

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RECIPE

1 pound Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed and outer leaves removed
Kosher salt
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely diced shallot
1 tablespoon clover honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Canola oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

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SO GREEN!
Directions:
1. Heat grill to high for direct grilling. If using wooden skewers, soak them in cold water for at least 15 minutes. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add Brussels sprouts and cook until crisp-tender (a skewer inserted into the center should meet a little resistance), about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain well again. Pat dry with paper towels.
2. Whisk together vinegar, shallot, honey, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until vinaigrette is emulsified.
3. Toss Brussels sprouts with a few tablespoons canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Thread onto skewers and grill on both sides until golden brown, slightly charred, and just tender, about 2 minutes per side. Remove sprouts to a cutting board and cut in half. Transfer to a platter. Drizzle vinaigrette over warm Brussels sprouts, and top with hazelnuts and orange zest.

The second side was  Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa. I love melted cheese, this is no secret.  I also love cheesy broccoli rice, as do my grandparents and I’m pretty sure everyone else in the world.  So I thought that quinoa would be a nice twist on the traditional side, although my grandparents had no idea what they were consuming and my mom still cannot pronounce the word without at least 5 minutes of speech coaching. This healthy alternative is basically perfection.  It is incredibly easy to make and it is so delicious, I made it again the next day.  Obviously I didn’t use chicken broth, but I did use vegetable broth instead to give it a little extra flavor.  Also I used non-fat cheddar just to make myself feel better about consuming almost the entire batch.  Sadie (the picky sister) does not like quinoa and emphatically told me that she would not be eating any of it. But this cheesy little dish won her over and I am pretty sure she even had seconds.  Success!!

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RECIPE

Ingredients
1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
2 cups broccoli, chopped
1 cup cheddar, shredded
salt and pepper to taste
Directions
Bring the quinoa, broth and broccoli to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat and simmer covered until the broth has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender,about 13-17 minutes.
Mix in the cheese, let it melt and season with salt and pepper.

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Look at that cheesy goodness.

Overall, this meal was easy, flavorful, and pretty healthy.  Also, Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa will definitely become a staple in my diet!

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P.S. Thanks to Sadie for the pics!!

http://www.howsweeteats.com/2011/02/macaroon-crusted-tilapia/

http://www.closetcooking.com/2012/11/cheesy-broccoli-quinoa.html

http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-recipes/12-surprising-foods-grill?page=5

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