Sunday, April 24, 2011

Appreciating the Simplicity - Talapia & Zucchini

Dinner: April 23

The more familiar I become with cooking techniques and various foods, the more I appreciate the simple, quick, and tasty recipes. Fresh food is quickly becoming a preference over take-out food (say what?!), even when I don’t have the time or money to cook anything elegant or elaborate. So, at a time when I can’t exactly splurge on scallops or lamb every week, I find that it can be just as satisfying to cook something simple like talapia but put a new spin on a vegetable to make it exciting.

By the same token, as much as I enjoy many of the cooking shows on television, it’s sometimes the plain and simple that catch my eye over the others. Lidia’s Italy is shown on PBS, and Lidia is a plain-spoken cook who highlights various places in Italy, shows viewers how to cook without having to be perfect, and makes her kitchen a warm and inviting place. Her recipes can be complicated, but she has some simpler techniques that work on easier dishes as well.

This week, I went for the cheap talapia at the market, but I wanted to try a new spin on a vegetable dish. I had leftover anchovies and found a recipe to use them with zucchini and capers from Lidia here. I reduced the amounts of ingredients a fraction for a smaller serving.

Basics:  Heated olive oil in skillet, added 2 garlic cloves, then added 4 small chopped anchovy fillets to the pan until melted. Added 3 sliced zucchinis (cut into 2-3 inch sticks), coated with oil, added salt and pepper, and cooked for 15 minutes. Added 2 tablespoons of capers and tossed for 2 minutes.

Basics:  Breaded the talapia with flour, egg, and Italian bread crumbs. Fried in olive-oil coated pan for several minutes on each side until golden brown.

The zucchini was very delicious! I’ve been surprised at the kick that anchovies provide in a dish, and this was another wonderful use of them. The capers also gave it a very distinct flavor, and it was the perfect side dish to the talapia. And said talapia has become one of my weekly dinner staples, as it is very inexpensive and takes only minutes to prepare. Lovely, simple dinner for a relaxing Saturday night at home.

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