For a long time, Friday night has been Pizza Night in the Foodie family. And for a long time, that was perfectly okay with me. Pizza is The Boy’s very favorite food, and having a designated pizza night allowed me to tell him that if we made different choices on the other six nights of the week, pizza would be returning to the menu very soon. (When he was younger, and very rigid about what he would and would not eat, that was a powerful bargaining chip.) Pizza Night was a good opportunity to decompress at the end of a long week, hang out as a family, watch a movie, and slide into the weekend.
But, as always, things change. The Girl is now a member of the working class, which means she spends some Friday evenings behind her cash register at Six Flags. The Boy is in the middle of his teen years, which means that he’s growing at a sometimes alarming rate–and eating large quantities of food to fuel that growth. He can eat most of a pizza on his own and save the few leftover slices for lunch the next day. And that, in turn, means that The Hubs and I don’t have to eat pizza on Friday nights anymore, unless we want to.
I confess, there are days when I want to. But yesterday wasn’t one of them. I was in the mood for something lighter, something new. We rarely eat fish, since the Foodie children insist that fish is only edible when it’s breaded and fried (which defeats the whole purpose of eating fish, as far as I’m concerned), so while I was at the grocery store yesterday I picked up two tilapia fillets.
If you don’t think of yourself as a fish person, tilapia fillets are an excellent place to start changing that. They’re inexpensive, low in fat, and very mild in flavor, as fish go–they’re easy to flavor with herbs or sauces. If you’ve ever had fish tacos, chances are they were filled with tilapia. I decided to bake the fish and flavor them with a simple lemon-garlic sauce. (Yes, it’s summer, and yes, it’s hot–but this recipe requires that you heat up the oven for all of about 20 minutes, including the time to pre-heat.)
Tilapia fillets are usually very thin, so they don’t require much time in the oven–10 minutes should do it. (I saw a recipe once that called for baking tilapia for 30 minutes. If you do that, you’ll end up with a puddle of fish mush. 10 minutes. Trust me.) Pouring the sauce over the fish before baking keeps them nice and moist, in addition to giving them a delicious citrus flavor. You can use the remaining sauce to flavor the rice I suggest serving on the side.
One tilapia fillet and a cup of rice makes a light but surprisingly filling summer meal. The Boy was perfectly happy to let his father and I enjoy that meal while he went about preparing his traditional pizza. Perhaps the day will come when he tires of pizza, too. (Stranger things have happened, I’m sure.) But for now, The Hubs and I will make the most of our changing family dynamic.
Lemon Garlic Tilapia for Two
2 tilapia fillets
2 T. butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 cup quick-cooking rice
1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots
Fresh chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat it with cooking spray.
Rinse the tilapia fillets in cool water and pat them dry with paper towels. Set them on the prepared baking sheet; season on both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the minced garlic, lemon juice, and dried parsley; let this sauce bubble, but not boil, for two or three minutes. (You don't want the butter to brown; you do want the garlic to flavor it.) Spoon one tablespoon of the sauce over each of the tilapia fillets. Put the baking sheet in the oven and set a timer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a cup of water to a boil. Add the dry rice and the frozen vegetables. Put the lid on the pot and let the rice absorb the water. Just before serving, add the remaining lemon garlic sauce to the pot and stir to flavor the rice, then season with salt and pepper.
Serve the tilapia on a bed of rice. Sprinkle fish and rice with fresh chopped parsley.