8.24.2009

Weekly Menu - Sunday August 23


Tilapia Rigatoni with Avocado and Mango

Now, before I get started, don't give me any lip about once again eating pasta. I'll be honest in saying we eat a lot of pasta 'round these parts, because it's cheap, and we like cheap.

Anyway, on with the recipe!

What's in it:

  • Two flanks of tilapia, pan cooked in lemon juice, veganaise and black pepper with a hint of olive oil
  • Rigatoni pasta
  • (almost) from scratch pasta sauce, made with tomato puree, fresh garlic cloves (minced), cayenne pepper, red peppers and white onion (minced) and kosher salt
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced mango
This is a super, super easy recipe that I made up basically on the fly last night. I knew prior to cooking that I'd be making tilapia with pasta, but I have been watching a lot of Iron Chef and other Food Network shows recently which gave me the experimental bug. I wanted to create a couple of different tastes within the plate. This is super experimental for me. It's like colors - some match, and some go. The latter is the real challenge - with the real payoff.

The pasta sauce you get at the grocery store always tastes really sweet to me, which, is good, but for the sake of this experiment I wanted something that took on a different personality. I used kosher sea salt to give it a pop-your-tastebuds savor, cayenne pepper to create a bite at the middle of the tongue, and super fresh, super minced garlic cloves to explode at the end. I added peppers and onions for a little texture.

White fish is difficult to cook. I'm pretty impatient with the burner, so I end up putting the heat too high and ending up with unevenly cooked fish. Lately, however, we've been getting a good deal on frozen tilapia that really tastes pretty good when added with something. It's given me more time to practice my craft and thankfully, I'm starting to get the hang of it.

Aside from being touchy in the pan, white fishes are also often difficult when it comes to taste. Some whitefishes, like Catfish, have a great natural flavor, but Tilapia is NOT Catfish. I have struggled with how to get it tasting as I'd like it to. So far, my favorite method is to smother the unthawed slabs of tilapia in a bit of Veganaise, and top that with a bit of black pepper. I then fill the sautee pan with lemon juice, adding a drop of olive oil for flavor. I keep the burner down, around 6, and cover the fish while they cook. The lemon juice really helps to bring out the flavor of the fish and keep it moist instead of flaky.

Now, in order to create some compliments, I sliced an avocado and a mango. I know everyone reading this blog has had avocado, but if you haven't had mango...you should do it right now. It's the sweetest, most wonderful fruit on the planet. The sweetness of the mango and the thickness of the avocado made the tomato sauce almost to wonderful to even imagine.

My favorite part about this meal was creating my first pasta sauce. Tomato puree is so inexpensive, that it's actually a cheaper and fresher way to cover noodles. I will be trying some different things in the coming months.

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