Brown Paper Bag Microwave Popcorn

May 12th, 2010

In May 7th’s New York Daily News, I read an article about a woman who is suing ConAgra for “popcorn lung.” Agnes Mercado alleges that she has developed an irreversible lung disease by eating two or three bags of Act II Lite microwave popcorn a day for the last 16 years.

I’ll share with you a way to make popcorn in the microwave (sparing you a several-page rant on my personal feelings regarding Ms. Mercado’s microwave popcorn habit and her lawsuit) that I am fairly certain will not induce the dreaded “popcorn lung;” and should you suffer from a two- or three-bag-a-day habit, will save you, by my best estimate, approximately $1,100 a year (those bags are expensive).

Several years ago I, and a couple of million other viewers, watched the Food Network with fascination as Alton Brown demonstrated Plain Brown Popper (I’ll also spare you my feelings on cutsey recipe names); a method for popcorn popped in a standard lunch size paper bag in the microwave. Note that his recipe has five ingredients: Popcorn, oil, salt, seasoning, a paper bag, and a stapler.

Although I started with his recipe, I have narrowed it down to only two ingredients: Popcorn and a paper bag. You don’t need oil; you don’t even need to staple the bag closed.

Oh, and since this is during My Eating Well Challenge, read up on 3 reasons you should snack on popcorn from

Brown Paper Bag Microwave Popcorn

– 1/4 cup popcorn kernels (any variety)
– 1 lunch size paper bag (NOT wax-coated)

Place the popcorn in the paper bag. Close the bag by folding the top three times, about a half-inch for each fold. Have the bowl you are going to place your popcorn in at the ready.

Put the bag in the microwave and set the timer to cook for five minutes on high. It is very important that you do not leave the room while the popcorn is popping. I repeat, DO NOT walk away! Although it has never happened to me, I imagine if left too long, the bag could ignite.

Listen carefully, and when the popping has slowed to approximately two- to three-seconds in-between pops, remove the bag from the microwave. It will continue to pop a little, and it does burn quickly, so keep a watchful ear! (My popcorn is generally done in under three minutes. Yours might take more or less time depending on variety of popcorn and microwave wattage.)

Immediately open the bag by pulling apart at opposite corners, avoiding the very hot steam, and dump the popcorn into your bowl. Do not leave the popcorn in the bag, or it will burn even though it’s no longer in the microwave, and nobody is going to want to watch a movie with that aroma permeating the house.

There you have it: Approximately six to seven cups of warm, fluffy, crunchy popcorn!

Now you’ve got choices. You could toss the popcorn with butter, parmesan, Bacon Salt, chopped herbs, cinnamon and sugar, or anything you can dream up. But my favorite is just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a tiny pinch of salt.

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin With Sweet and Tangy Watermelon Salad

May 11th, 2010

Pork Tenderloin with Watermelon Salad

Week 1, Day 1 of My Eating Well Challenge. This meal was absolutely fantastic. The pork was super-juicy and the flavor of the rub did not overpower that of the pork. The only thing it needed was more salt. But it is the watermelon salad that is going to become a household recipe. If you invite me to a barbecue this summer, it’s what I’ll be bringing. It is bright and interesting, savory, sweet and refreshing.

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
From The Essential EatingWell Cookbook
View the recipe and nutr
itional info. at
Makes 6 servings.

The bright fresh taste of a watermelon and cucumber salad makes a sensational counterpoint to the fiery spice crust on this succulent pork tenderloin. It’s important to brown the meat before roasting, since this cut cooks too quickly for the surface to brown and caramelize in the oven. Grill enthusiasts may omit the stove-top browning (Step 3) and grill the tenderloins over medium heat, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes.

2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
2 teaspoons chile-garlic sauce
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
4 cups Sweet & Tangy Watermelon Salad (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

2. Mix sugar, coriander, cumin, salt, chile sauce and 1 teaspoon oil in a small bowl to form a smooth paste. Rub the paste over the pork.

3. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork; cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the baking sheet.

4. Roast the pork until just cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes (an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center should register 155°F). Let stand, loosely covered with foil, for 5 minutes. (Note, my tenderloin was thin – it only took about 15 minutes in the oven, so watch carefully. -taetopia)

5. Meanwhile, make Sweet & Tangy Watermelon Salad. Carve the pork into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve with the watermelon salad.

Sweet & Tangy Watermelon Salad
From The Essential EatingWell Cookbook
View the recipe and nutritional info. at
Makes about 4 cups.

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar (I cut this to 2 teaspoons. -taetopia)
2 cups diced seeded watermelon
2 cups diced cucumber
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, toasted

Stir together vinegar and sugar in a medium bowl until the sugar almost dissolves. Add watermelon, cucumber and cilantro; toss gently to combine. Just before serving, sprinkle with peanuts.

My Eating Well Challenge

May 10th, 2010

The EatingWell Cookbooks

EatingWell Magazine and have been my go-to resources to find easy, nutritious recipes for several years. I particularly like their recipes because the ingredients are real food; no sugar-substitutes or ingredient-laden packaged items. Plus, I know from experience that their recipes work.

I own every one of their cookbooks, except the diabetes book, but for some reason I don’t cook from them. EatingWell offers almost all the recipes from their cookbooks and magazines on their website; an absolutely incredible library at one’s fingertips. I will sometimes browse the site, shop on the way home, and cook in the evening. But between traffic and lines at the market, my family sometimes doesn’t eat until well after 8PM, and by that time I’m completely exhausted.

I thought I’d try something I haven’t done in a while: Plan a week’s worth of meals. It is clear that the unhealthiest way to eat is on-the-fly. By dinnertime, one is scrounging for ingredients or relying on take-out. So on Sunday, while drinking my morning coffee, I dusted off The Essential EatingWell Cookbook, the first one of their publications I owned, and picked out four recipes to make for the week. I found that leafing through the book presented me with more options at once, as opposed to waiting for each page to load on my computer. I liked it. Besides, I love leafing through cookbooks. What a nice thing to do on a Sunday morning!

I made a shopping list, went to the supermarket, and am now the proud owner of the ingredients for four dinners for my family (with leftovers for lunches, I hope).

If this goes well, I’ll move on to another book next week and another the week after, until I finish cooking from each EatingWell book I own. Of course, this adventure will be interspersed with other recipes, book and restaurant reviews, and items of note, as usual. Stay tuned!

Update: July 14, 2010 – Lessons from Cooking at Home and My Eating Well Challenge

The recipes (*=favorite recipes):

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Sweet and Tangy Watermelon Salad*

Ham & Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Roasted Peppers Stuffed with Kale and Rice

Vegetarian Reubens with Russian Dressing*

Apple, Sauerkraut, Cheddar & Ham Quesadillas*

Cheese Tortellini with Spinach & Asparagus

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Creamy Chive Sauce

Five Spice Chicken & Orange Salad*

Turkey Mini Meatloaves*

Warm Chicken Sausage & Potato Salad*

EatingWell’s Pepperoni Pizza

Ham & Swiss Rosti*

Chicken “Fried” Steak & Gravy

Beef & Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff

EatingWell’s Baked Macaroni & Cheese*

Lemon Basil Sorbet

May 8th, 2010

Lemon Basil Sorbet

I purchased an ice cream maker several years ago when a business associate gave me a gift certificate for It sits, largely neglected, glaring at me from the top of my refrigerator. But once a year I bring it down to make this treat.

Many sorbet recipes call for an equal ratio of water to sugar. I find this far too sweet. There are also sorbet recipes that call for beaten egg whites, which, while providing a smoother consistency, is unnecessary. This lemon sorbet is just slightly sweet and a bit tart, the basil adding a taste of spring and summer; perfect for a hot day.

Lemon Basil Sorbet

– Peel of one lemon (yellow part only, use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin from the lemon)
– 2 cups water
– 7 basil leaves
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, pulp strained (from approximately 3 – 4 lemons)

1. Put the lemon peel, water, and two of the basil leaves into a saucepan. Bring the water to boil, and then add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Simmer for two minutes more until the mixture is the consistency of a thin syrup.

2. Remove the pot from the heat, and strain the water into a bowl, discarding the basil leaves and lemon peel. Let cool 30 minutes, and then place in the refrigerator for at least two hours, or until ready to make the sorbet.

3. Stir in 3/4 of the cup of lemon juice to the mixture and taste. If it is is not tart enough, add the remaining 1/4 cup.

4. Place the mixture in your ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions.

5. Finely mince the remaining 5 basil leaves. Add the basil to the ice cream maker just a few minutes before the sorbet is done to mix it in well. (In my Cuisinart, the sorbet took about 40 minutes, adding the basil just three minutes before it finished.)

6. At this point the sorbet may still be a little soft. If this is the case, scoop it into a container and freeze for 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

Shanghai Jazz Rolls Out a New Website

May 3rd, 2010

Shanghai Jazz in Madison has rolled out a great new website. Or rather, it’s new to me. I don’t know how long it has been live; I abandoned looking at the old one a while ago, as the schedule was very difficult to read. It’s nice to see Shanghai Jazz finally has a website that reflects what a great establishment it is.

Taste This! Elissa Altman of on Cooking at Home

April 28th, 2010

In a thought-provoking article on The Huffington Post, “Too Busy to Cook: The Dismantling of a Culture,” Elissa Altman questions, “what…keeps the average Us from getting into the kitchen and cooking with some degree of care and thoughtfulness whenever we choose to eat at home?” Good question.

The piece is inspired by Michael Ruhlman’s comments made at this year’s IACP Conference, and his excellent blog post which I wrote about in January (along with instructions for the easiest roast chicken ever).

Butter Braised Asparagus and Mushrooms with Peas, Tarragon, Nuts and Lemon

April 26th, 2010

Butter Braised Asparagus

I finally got my hands on some locally grown asparagus last weekend. This is very exciting, as asparagus is at the top of my all-time-favorite-vegetables list, and because there’s not much that beats the flavor when it is newly harvested.

I spent hours wondering what I’d do with it. I could simply roast the stalks in a drizzle of olive oil and a little salt (my favorite preparation), but I wanted something more substantial. Then I remembered the butter braised asparagus I made same time last year when I was having a similar quandary. It has peas, which are also at the top of my all-time-favorite-vegetables list (yes, I do know they are a legume, but work with me on this one), and I had tarragon left over from last week’s chicken pot pie.

Where the original recipe calls for oyster mushrooms, I used a mushroom medley. I added some nuts for crunch, and some lemon for brightness, as well as a few slivers of parmigiano-reggiano, which made this more than just a side dish. Served over a bed of arugula that had been lightly dressed with olive oil, it became our dinner.

Butter Braised Asparagus and Mushrooms with Peas and Tarragon
Adapted from Melissa Clark’s recipe, published May 7, 2008, in the New York Times

– 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 8 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch pieces (preferably oyster, shitake, portobello, or a similar flavorful mushroom, or any combination)
– Kosher salt, to taste
– Freshly ground pepper, to taste
– 12 ounces asparagus, trimmed, and cut into 1 1/4 pieces (see note below on trimming)
– 4 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
– 3/4 cups frozen peas
– 1/3 cup chopped walnuts or raw almonds (with skins)
– 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
– Juice of 1/2 a lemon
– 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
– Several slivers of Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to coat mushrooms with butter. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

2. Stir in asparagus, scallions and remaining tablespoon butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 2 minutes if using thin asparagus, and up to 7 minutes for thick asparagus (until asparagus is just slightly less than fully cooked).

3. Stir in peas, tarragon, lemon juice, lemon zest, and nuts. Cover and cook about three minutes, until peas are heated through and asparagus is tender. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

4. Serve warm, garnished with several shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Public Service Announcement:  Trimming Asparagus
I do not subscribe to the theory that if you snap a piece of asparagus by bending it, you will be left with the perfectly edible portion and may then discard the rest. Snapping a piece of asparagus and tossing the stem end is one of the most atrocious examples of waste I have ever seen. See this photo of snapped asparagus:

Snapped Asparagus

I simply can’t believe that a third of an asparagus stalk is inedible, can you? Dear readers, I beg of you, do not snap your asparagus! Cut a half-inch or so from the bottom to remove the dry end, and then peel the stalk a bit if your asparagus is thick or woody. Asparagus growers everywhere will thank you.

Tarragon and Mustard Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping

April 20th, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping

Necessity is the mother of invention. With Chef Loryn being temporarily out of business, and not having a Griggstown pot pie (my favorite) on hand , the temperature dropping from the 70s to the 50s, and in want of some comfort food, I set out to make my own chicken pot pie. One that could be made relatively easy on a weeknight. Earlier in the day I had been leaning toward a pork chop with a mustard tarragon sauce. I couldn’t make up my mind, so why not infuse my chicken pot pie with the flavors of tarragon and mustard?

At the market on the way home from work, I expeditiously found all the ingredients for the pot, but what about the pie? Pot pie may be fully encased in pie crust, puff pastry, or topped with a biscuit topping. Puff pastry was out of the question due to the defrosting, not to mention the fat content. Pie crust can be a little tedious, and I generally find pre-made crust not savory and thick enough for a pot pie. That left me with a biscuit topping.

For some reason, the market I was in had no biscuit mix. Not even a pop-the-can biscuit was to be found. I did find some frozen biscuits, which looked absolutely luscious when I read the description, and I thought would be charming if I made the “pies” in individual ramekins, topping each one with a biscuit. Then I read the nutrition information. Weighing in at nearly 300 calories with 9 grams of saturated fat each, well, that’s not exactly the semi-healthy direction I had started out in. I wandered around the market with those biscuits in my cart for a full 10 minutes. Should I? Shouldn’t I? Should I? Shouldn’t I? Wait a minute. Biscuits!

Remember the Cream Biscuits from December? The ones that were so easy to make? Why not use that recipe? And so I, very reluctantly, put the luscious looking frozen biscuits back on their shelf and went home with the ingredients for my filling. I am so glad I did, because my pot pie was wonderful.

The aroma and flavor of the vegetables, chicken, herbs, and creamy sauce are pure comfort food. The bite of the vegetables, the tenderness of the chicken, the creaminess of the sauce, and the biscuit layer provide a ton of texture, and the top adds buttery-ness without making the dish overwhelmingly rich.

Tarragon Mustard Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping
Serves 6 – 8

– 2 russet potatoes
– 2 tablespoons butter
– 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
– 3 strips bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips (lardon)
– 1 cup shallot, diced
– 1 large carrot, diced
– 3 ribs celery, diced
– 2 teaspoons canola oil
– 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, cubed
– 1/2 cup dry white wine
– 2 cups chicken stock
– 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
– 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
– 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 1/2 recipe Cream Biscuits (click link for recipe)

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

1. Fill a saucepan with cold water. Dice the potatoes, put them in the saucepan, and bring the pot to boil. Boil the potatoes until they are just fork tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander, but do not rinse them. Set aside to cool.

2. While the potatoes are simmering, blend butter and flour together with your fingers to make a paste. Set aside.

3. In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel with a slotted spoon and set aside.

4. Drain all but a tablespoon of the fat from the sauté pan. Add the shallot, carrot, and celery to the pan, with a large pinch of salt  and a few grinds of pepper to taste, and sauté until the shallot is translucent and the vegetables are becoming fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Pour the vegetables into a bowl and set aside.

5. Heat the canola oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and sauté until it is cooked through. Add the chicken to the bowl with the vegetables.

6. Over medium-high heat, pour the white wine into the sauté pan and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Reduce the wine by at least half.

7. Pour in one cup of the chicken stock, and reduce the stock and wine to at least half again. Pour in the last cup of chicken stock and reduce until there’s about a cup of liquid in the pan.

8. Break off about a tablespoon of the flour/butter mixture and whisk it into the pan. Continue to whisk until all lumps are gone and the sauce is thickened, just a couple of minutes. If the sauce is not thick enough, repeat with a bit of the flour/butter mixture at a time.

9. When sauce is thickened to the consistency of cream, stir in the tarragon, rosemary, and mustard. Taste, adding more herbs or mustard if you prefer. Pour this mixture over the vegetables and chicken, add the crisped bacon, and stir altogether. Place mixture into an oven-safe, deep casserole dish.

10. Prepare 1/2 recipe Cream Biscuts. Pat the dough out to fit the size of your casserole. Using a bench scraper or large, flat spatula, place the dough on top of the filling, patting the dough out to the edges of the casserole dish.

11. Brush the top of the biscuit dough with melted butter, or cream if you prefer.

12. Place pot pie in the oven and bake until top is golden and the pie is bubbling around the edges, 20-25 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes, and serve hot.

BBQ Jalapeño Poppers

April 11th, 2010

BBQ Jalapeno Poppers

I have been reading The Pioneer Woman Cooks for quite some time. Written by Ree Drummond, the blog features recipes intertwined with entertaining and soulful stories of life on a working ranch, caring for her kids and husband, holidays with family, and the seemingly endless number of people she knows. But it’s the photos that captivate, making the blog feel like you’re reading a photo-journal created by your best friend.

Published in October of 2009, The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook follows the blog’s visually striking theme. This is the perfect book for someone who may not feel entirely comfortable in the kitchen, with tons of gorgeous instructional photographs and a laid-back, take-it-easy style of cooking. It’s also a great book for people who love meat, meat, cream, butter, and meat, which I do.

These BBQ Jalapeño Poppers are not only delicious, but they are wickedly fun to make; probably because you know you’re about to serve your guests something irresistible. They’ve got cream cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon, and BBQ sauce. They’re about as evil as a finger food can get.

If you are judicious about removing the peppers’ veins and seeds, you’ll have no spiciness, leaving just the flavor of the jalapeño. Next time, I’d likely leave some of the veins in as I missed the heat. Ree mentions a variation to add pineapple before wrapping the poppers in bacon, which I desperately wanted to try but ran out of time. I’m a little glad about that. Glazing the bacon with BBQ sauce makes these taste like pig candy, so no extra sweetness is needed here. Lastly, do what the recipe says and use a thin cut of bacon (or pound out a thick cut). I used Niman Ranch which is cut thicker than your typical supermarket brand, and I think the bacon could be a little crisper than what I achieved.

These made a great finger-food snack for our Sunday poker game, and fulfilled a promise I made to make a jalapeño-poppers-with-bacon recipe over the weekend for my friend Kip. So, with thanks to Karol who sent me the book for my birthday, these are for you, Kip.

BBQ Jalapeño Poppers
by Ree Drummond
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl
©2009 WM Morrow

There are many different versions of these delightful pop-in-your-mouth jalapeños. My sister-in-law Missy makes a more basic version, stuffing jalapeño halves with plain cream cheese, wrapping them with bacon, and baking them slowly for half an hour or so. When she’s feeling particularly mischievous, Missy cooks them on the grill. Either way, they’re a real treat. Here’s my spin on the old classic.

Important: Wear gloves when working with fresh jalapeños or you’ll curse the ground on which I walk because you’ll wake up in the middle of the night with throbbing fingertips. And that’s nothing compared to what happens if you accidentally scratch your eye – or worse, something else.

– 18 fresh jalapeños
– One 8-ounce package cream cheese
– 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
– 1 green onion, sliced
– 18 slices thin bacon, cut into halves
– Bottled barbecue sauce
– Toothpicks
– Rubber gloves (or plastic bags) for working with jalapeños

1. Preheat oven to 275°F.

2. Begin by cutting jalapeños in half lengthwise (see warning in headnote). Try to keep the stems intact. They look prettier that way.

3. With a spoon, scrape out the seeds and light-colored membranes. Remember, the heat comes from the seeds and the membranes, so if you can handle the sizzle, leave some of them intact.

4. Now, in a bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and chopped green onion. Mix the ingredients together gently. And don’t feel you have to use an electric mixer. I do because I’m lazy and don’t like to exert myself, ever. (Too much scrubbing clothes in the washboard, I suppose.)

5. Next, stuff each hollowed jalapeño half with the cheese mixture.

6. Wrap bacon slices around each half, covering as much of the surface as you can. Be careful not to stretch the bacon too tightly around the jalapeño, as the bacon will contract as ti cooks.

7. Brush the surface of the bacon with your favorite barbecue sauce. Chutney or apricot jelly works well, too!

8. Secure the jalapeños with toothpicks and pop them in the oven for 1 hour, or until the bacon is sizzling.

9. Serve hot or at room temperature, and watch them disappear within seconds. I’ve seriously caught guests stuffing these into their purses. Sometimes I have to call law enforcement.

Helpful Hints: Make three times more than you think you’ll need. (You’ll just have to trust me.)

Poppers can be assembled up to a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge before cooking. Or, they can be fully cooked and frozen in plastic bags until you need them. Just thaw and warm up in the oven before serving.

Unless you’re prepared to become instantly addicted, do not place two of these on your hamburger. I mean it. Don’t. There’ll be no turning back after that. (I’m dying to try this. -taetopia)


– For a simpler version, omit the cheddar and green onion from the cream cheese.

– Cut sliced peaches or pineapple into small bits and press them into the cream cheese before wrapping the jalapeños in bacon.

– Use pepper jack cheese instead of the cheddar cheese.

Almond and Herb Baked Tilapia

April 2nd, 2010

Almond and Herb Baked Tilapia

My husband discovered “The 10 Things You Need to Eat” while we were passing time at a bookstore before a show. A paperback with an illustrated cover and no photos, this unassuming book has me captivated. Among the “10 things” are nine ingredients my family loves to eat: quinoa, beets, avocado, lentils, berries, spinach, tomatoes, nuts, and cabbage. I was so intrigued by the recipes, I read it cover-to-cover in one evening. Interspersed throughout is commentary about the benefits of each main ingredient. What a bonus that the recipes are not just good, they are good for you.

The “10th thing” is fish, which I am not particularly fond of, but the recipe for Almond and Herb Baked Tilapia looked intriguing.  I’m glad I tried it, because it is absolutely wonderful, and it took less than 20 minutes to prepare! Add a side of steamed vegetables (I used the microwave-in-the-bag kind), and you have a healthy dinner on the table in no time. The combination of lemon, herbs, garlic, and fish is a no-brainer, but when you add the sweetness and crunch of the nuts, you get something incredibly fragrant and filling. I could eat this several times a month. It would be a great dish to make for guests, since the fillets cook conveniently on one sheet pan in the oven, there’s not the least bit of fishy-smell, and it’ll look like you slaved for hours.

Almond and Herb Baked Tilapia
by Dave Lieberman and Anahad O’Connor
From The 10 Things You Need to Eat: And More Than 100 Easy and Delicious Ways to Prepare Them, HarperCollins, 2010
Recipe © HarperCollins 2010

Tilapia has quickly become one of the most affordable and widely available fish at the supermarket. It has sweet, mild, meaty flesh that is tender as long as you don’t overcook it. This almond and herb topping is vibrant and flavorful, and the toasted sliced almonds add some crunch. But the topping also serves double duty, locking in the moisture of the fish. Lots of good extra virgin olive oil helps the cause too! Serves 4

– 1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
– Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
– 1 cup sliced raw almonds
– 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
– 1/4 cup very finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper
– 4 large, thick tilapia filets (about 6 to 8 ounces each)

Preaheat oven to 400°F.

Toss the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, almonds, garlic, and parsley together in a mixing bowl, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the pieces of tilapia on a large baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Divide the almond and herb mixture among the four pieces of fish and smooth the mixture over each piece to create an even coating.

Bake until the almond mixture has browned slightly and the fish is cooked through and flakes easily, about 15 minutes.