Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summertime Asparagus and Tilapia

The big recipe is finally here! 
I've been working on editing these pictures and re-reading the recipe to make sure I did everything right so that when you try this at home it will come out just right! When I went to the grocery store last week there were a lot of things that looked good and I could have left there with almost every vegetable in the produce section but I came home with just a few things that would last me a while. One of those vegetables was asparagus. One bunch will last you a while if you know how to use it properly. Depending on how big or small they are my rule of thumb is to grab a bunch of them with your middle finger and thumb and that is roughly the amount one person can eat. However, if you think that won't be a big enough portion try cooking it with other vegetables and some protein and I promise it will fill you up. The second thing you should know is how to store it. I keep mine in a vase full of water in the refrigerator - I found that it doesn't need much water and they will stay perfectly fresh for about a week or longer even. 
The other main ingredient I picked up at the store was tilapia. Tilapia is a fantastic fish - it is extremely versatile and it takes on other flavors very well so it will pair great with almost anything. It also has a mild fish flavor in my opinion so seasoning and other ingredients is a must in order to give it good flavor and body.

The recipe below was inspired by something I made at work a while back when I was trying to find a way to have a good meal without using pasta. I am on a non-gluten diet currently and during the first few weeks it was very difficult to find things to eat that felt like an entree. My solution: vegetable stir fry or rice - or both! I found that if you cut your vegetable into longer, thinner strips they act as pasta strings and you can put sauce and protein and whatever else you like on top. In this recipe the onions play that roll and if you cook them correctly you get rid of that tart, sour oniony flavor and end up with sweet, mild, savory onion flavor. So anyways, here it goes!

First things first - you must blanch your asparagus before you use it; otherwise it will be tough and the ends will be very fibrous and hard to chew. Here's how:

Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. Once its boiling add a handful of salt - well salted water makes for well seasoned ingredients. Add your asparagus (mine is cut before hand so that I don't need to use a bigger pot). Let it cook for about 3 - 5 minutes until it is bright green. Strain or use a spider to fish out the pieces and transfer directly into an ice bath (a bowl of ice cold water with ice cubes) in order to immediately stop the cooking process. Now they are ready for the main recipe.
Summertime Asparagus and Tilapia
1/2 bunch of asparagus blanched
2 tilapia filets (seasoned with s & p on both sides)
1 vine ripe tomato chopped
1 medium while or yellow onion slices 
1 7.5 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts quartered
3 cloves of garlic minced
3/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
1 lemon
1 tbsp capers
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter 
1 tbsp heavy cream (optional) 
salt and pepper (s & p)

In a skillet that is hot over medium heat cook onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter. Cook for three minutes or until onions are translucent. Add your blanched asparagus and cook that for three minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add your jar of artichoke hearts including the juice - the juice will help make the sauce later. Finally add one or two tablespoons of your chopped parsley then let the mixture cook on medium until about half of the liquid has evaporated from the pan. Transfer the mixture into a separate bowl, cover and set aside. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan still on medium heat and place the seasoned tilapia in the pan. Add the juice of half your lemon then place in the pan flesh side down. After three minutes of cooking add 1 tablespoon of butter in order to keep the fish moist and the bottom of the pan from getting too dry (you can add more or less olive oil or butter in order to prevent the bottom of the pan from burning). Flip the fish over after five to six minutes of cooking. Add the juice of the other half of the lemon directly over the cooked side of the fish. Add your tomatoes, capers and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Cook the fish for three minutes in a covered pan on medium to low heat. Remove lid and add cream if desired. Pour the fish and tomato mixture on a plate and add the asparagus mixture on top to serve!

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