July 26th, 2012
I recently had the pleasure of visiting—and eating with—the folks at Fine Cooking magazine. (And, bonus: I got to do it with Elizabeth of one of my favorite food blogs, Brooklyn Supper!) While there, I was invited to join in on one of their weekly tastings where they test recipes submitted by contributors. I’ve been inside a couple of cooking mag test kitchens, but had never been privy to this part of the process. Taste, talk, tweak. It was right up my alley and SO much fun!
I hate to be a tease, but there isn’t much more that I can share about the visit. The recipes we tasted are coming out in the magazine soon, so they are top secret for now. I can tell you that every one was great and that the experience was a reminder of how much I enjoy the magazine. It’s as lovely as the smart and thoughtful people who put it together every month. (And, no, I was not asked or paid or expected to blog about the experience—I just want to share!)
Once home, I started flipping through some issues of Fine Cooking and came across this recipe for Spice Rubbed Tilapia with Black Bean, Mango and Tomatillo Salsa. Have you ever eaten raw tomatillo before? I hadn’t and was intrigued. Turns out, it’s awesome tossed in a light dressing like this. Who knew?!
This dinner came together in a snap—all I had to add was a quick side of broccoli and steamed rice. Just like that, a well rounded meal of fish, grains, beans, fruit and veggies was on the table. My plan had been to lighten the spice mixture on my kids’ portions, but they had a play date that turned into dinner that evening. With other small mouths to feed, I decided to skip spices on the kids’ food all together. This recipe is so flexible that it barely made a difference to my cooking experience or, more importantly, cooking time. I’d say that—and spot on flavor—are the makings of a perfect weeknight meal.
Thank you Fine Cooking for a wonderful experience and a new go-to summer dinner. Can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us!
Spice Rubbed Tilapia with Black Bean, Mango and Tomatillo Salsa
from Fine Cooking magazine
(can be adapted for kids 8+ mos)*
One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 lb tomatillos, papery covering discarded, fruit rinsed and cut into small dice
1 medium ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into small dice
1/2 cup small-diced red onion
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 skinless tilapia fillets (about 4 ounces each)
1. Put a heatproof serving platter on a rack in the center of the oven and heat oven to 200 degrees. (This is optional, but will help keep the fish warm as you cook it in batches.)
2. In a medium bowl, combine the beans, tomatillos, mango, red onion, lime juice, 1/3 cup of the vegetable oil, cilantro and a few grinds of black pepper; toss gently. Let the salad stand at room temperature while you cook the fish.
3. Mix 1/4 teaspoon black pepper with the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Rub both sides of the tilapia fillets with the mixture.
4. In a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook two of the tilapia fillets until lightly browned and the flesh is opaque and cooked though, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the fish to the platter in the oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining two fillets. Transfer the fillets to the platter and spoon half of the salsa on top. Serve with the remaining salsa on the side.
*Note: Puree a little little bit of the salsa with or with out the fish for puree eating babies. You can also spoon pureed salsa over little flakes of fish—and a steamed grain, if you have it—for children eating textured foods.