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Archive for the ‘Easy Dinner’ Category

In our cooking classes we find that many people are intimidated by cooking fish. They are worried they will over cook it, that it will stick to the pan, that it will make the whole house smell like fish. These are valid concerns — any of these things could happen. But the truth is that with a few key tips, you can cook fish simply, quickly and efficiently. In fact, fish is really one of the great weeknight dinner options because it cooks in so little time.

One of our favorite fish dishes is this Ginger-Lime Fish with Citrus Salsa. We serve a version of it at our catered events often and it’s always a hit. There are three things that make this dish such a standout AND a great dish to start with if you are a seafood-cooking-novice.

1. The Cooking Method – Instead of searing the fish in a hot pan (delicious but sure to smoke out the house) or grill the fish (lovely but not always an option) we do use the oven to steam the fish. To do this, we place the fish in a shallow baking dish with a small amount of water, cover tightly with foil and bake until tender. The beauty of this method is that the liquid in the dish keep the fish super moist — there is very little danger of overcooking.

2. The Flavor – I find that many people like “white, flaky fish” because it “doesn’t taste like fish.” Kind of a funny thing that we all want fish that doesn’t taste like anything. But I get it — not many people love a strong fish flavor (if you do, try this fish with salmon or sturgeon). So I find myself cooking flavorless white fish a lot and often use wet rubs to infuse some flavor into the fish. A wet rub is usually a blend of spices with a little oil — I love it because it sticks to the meat or fish and delivers immediate flavor. For this dish, I use fresh grated ginger and lime zest instead of strong spices. That way, the fish still has a “fresh” taste. (NOTE: When buying fish, look for shiny fillets and fish that smells only slightly of the sea — it should never smell fishy before you cook it!)

3. The Salsa – While many people reach for a lemon wedge when served fish, I think lemon can actually be really over-powering. I love using a mix of orange and lime to bring some brightness to the dish without overpowering the fish. This citrus salsa is delicious on just about any grilled meat or seafood. Make a double batch — you won’t be sorry!

I hope you’ll give this dish a try and that it opens up a whole new world of easy fish cooking for you. Let us know how it goes!

Ginger-Lime Fish with Citrus Salsa

serves 4

1 tbl grated ginger

1 tbl lime zest

1 garlic clove, grated

2 tbl olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

4 skinless halibut fillets (or tilapia or any flaky white fish)

2 oranges

1 lime

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

1 avocado

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together the ginger, lime zest, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Rub the fish with this mixture and place in a shallow baking dish. Add 1/4 cup water and cover tightly with foil.

Bake for 15 minutes. To check if the fish is done, gently press a fork into the thickest part of the fish. If there is no resistance, the fish is done! If it feels firm at all inside, cook for another 1-2 minutes at a time until done.

Meanwhile, to cut the oranges, cut off the top and bottom of the orange and then cut away the peel. You’ll end up with a perfectly peeled orange minus the pith. Cut the orange into 1/4-inch rounds and then into small pieces. Toss with the juice of 1 lime, the onion and cilantro. Cut the avocado into big chunks and carefully toss. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Serve the fish warm, topped with the salsa.

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I recently got home from a long weekend vacation. It was late enough in the evening that I didn’t want to go to the store and early enough that I was still hungry for dinner. After traveling all day, I just wanted something comforting, easy and tasty. After a quick survey of the fridge, I realized I had a bunch of chard hanging out in the bottom bin that still had some life to it and a little Fresno chili that looked good. A stop at the pantry revealed some good quality short cut pasta and a can of white beans. A little protein, a little vegetable and a little carbs — dinner was born.

I love mixing beans and pasta together. It may seem a bit unusual, but it’s a great way to reduce the amount of pasta I’m eating and sneak in some fiber and protein. Plus the creaminess of the white beans really adds a nice texture contrast to a simple pasta dish. Here’s what I did:

Chard & White Bean Pasta

serves 2

1 1/2 cups short cut pasta (penne works great here)

olive oil

2 tbl sliced garlic

1 Fresno chili, sliced (take the seeds out if you don’t like the heat)

1 tbl pinenuts

1 15 oz can white beans

4-6 cups chopped chard (discard the bottom woody part of the stems and use the rest)

2 oz crumbled feta

Bring a  pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a small handful of salt. Add the pasta, stir, and cook accordingly to the package instructions — cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil.

Add the garlic, chili and pinenuts. Cook for a 3-4 minutes until beginning to brown slightly. Add the beans. Cook over high heat, tossing a few times, until the beans become crispy in some places.

Add the chard and cook for 2-3 minutes just until the chard wilts. Remove from heat.

When the pasta is done, scoop from the pot directly into the pan along with about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss together.

Serve hot, topped with crumbled feta and plenty of black pepper.

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