Baked Fish with Tomatoes, Peppers & Roasted Garlic

Sometimes after Mr. F and I cook a nice seafood dinner we’ll have one small piece of fish left over. It’s not enough for another main for two, but it will make a special lunch…for one.

I am usually the lucky one who gets to reap the rewards of this humble little fillet. I make it a fancy lunch just for me.

Ok, it’s not that fancy (at all), but it tastes like a lot of time and effort went into it (it didn’t). This is the kind of lunch that makes me feel like I am treating myself right  (which I totally am).

A sweet combination of tomatoes, green peppers, onions, roasted garlic and a slosh of red wine make a light summer vegetable stew for my mild baked white fish to nestle in to.

My addition of the roasted garlic is a bit superfluous, but I love it too much not to tell you about it. If you’ve got the time to make it, do. If only for the satisfaction you get out of squeezing the fragrant, soft cloves out of their rough, dry skins.

My method for cooking both the garlic and the fish are very similar. Pretty easy stuff: olive oil, aluminum foil, bake.

Roasted Garlic (optional, but not optional for me):
– An entire head of garlic
– Olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 200 C/400 F

Cut off the base of the bulb of garlic (the woody end).

Oil a piece of aluminum foil (big enough to wrap the garlic in) and stand the bulb upright on it’s newly trimmed bottom. Loosely wrap the the bulb in foil and place on the oven rack.  Bake for 35-45 minutes until your garlic cloves take on a caramelized color.

Squeeze cloves out of skins to use.

This can be made as much as a day ahead.

Tomatoes & Peppers
– 1 medium onion, sliced into thin half-moons
– 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
– 2 medium tomatoes, diced
– 1/2 large green pepper, sliced thin in long strips
– 1/4 cup red wine
– 1/2 teaspoon of smokey paprika
– salt & pepper
– Olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until beginning to brown, about 4-5 minutes. (If at any point the pan becomes a little dry, add a tablespoon or two of water)

Add the peppers and cook another 3-4 minutes until beginning to soften.

Add tomatoes, paprika, salt and pepper. And cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Pour in red wine, and let it boil off and thicken until the vegetables are thick but still saucy. About 5 minutes.

Add about 5 or 6 roasted garlic cloves (squeezed out of their husks). Reduce to a simmer and cook a further 10 minutes covered.

Serve with baked fish.

Simple Baked Fish for One
– White fish fillet (I had flake fish)
– Olive oil
– Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 200 C/400 F

Lightly oil a piece of aluminum foil. Place the fish in the center and season with salt and pepper. Seal the aluminum foil around the fish, making sure it is completely enclosed, but leaving space between the closure and the fish. (This creates an air pocket for the heat and steam from the fish to circulate – which cooks the fish while keeping it moist.)

Bake for 15 minutes. Unwrap and pour off excess liquid. Your fish should be completely white and opaque in the middle. Serve on top of tomato-pepper mixture.

Provençal Wheat Berry Salad with Prawns

Whole Grains are kind of a big deal. Everyone’s talking about them. You should eat them, you should cook with them and you should get to know different kinds.

That’s what they say, anyway. I don’t like being told what to do, but as a girl who likes to mix it up (in the kitchen, folks!) I’m more than happy to try something new.

(Plus, they are probably reputable nutritionists, so I should probably listen to them.)

Wheat berries are the entire wheat kernel minus the hull. This is good. They’re the real deal. They contain more good for you stuff because they haven’t been tampered with as much as something like flour.

They take a little while to cook, but it’s not any harder than cooking rice. Mine took about 45-50 minutes. They should be a little crunchy/chewy with a nutty and slightly sweet flavor.

What I like about these little guys is that they can hold their own in a dish and add a unique and satisfyingly chewy texture. In this salad they pull together chunky vegetables, a strong Dijon vinaigrette, and sweet grilled prawns without getting lost.

Provençal Wheat Berry Salad with Prawns and Dijon Shallot Vinaigrette
Closely adapted from Fine Cooking
Serves 2
– 1/2 cup dry wheat berries
– 1 cup green beans, trimmed
– 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, drained and thinly sliced
– 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
– 1/4 cup diced roasted red peppers
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
– 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
– Salt & Pepper to taste
– 12 prawns peeled and deveined
– 1 tablespoons olive oil

Dijon Shallot Vinaigrette
Click here to find out more!
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
– 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
– 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
– 1/2 a medium shallot, finely diced
– 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
– 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
– 1 teaspoon of water
– Dash Worcestershire sauce
– Salt & Pepper, to taste

To make vinaigrette: combine all ingredients in a jar, put the cap on and sh-sh-shake it.

In a medium saucepan, combine the wheat berries, a little salt, and enough water to cover by about 2 inches/5 cm. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat and cook at a simmer, partially covered, until the wheat berries are tender but chewy.
Begin checking after 45 minutes, though they may take up to 90 minutes. Drain the wheat well and spread on a baking sheet to cool.

Bring another medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add a sprinkle of salt and the green beans to the boiling water. Cook until just slightly tender, about 3-5 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. Cut into 1 inch/2.5 cm pieces.

In a large bowl, combine the wheat berries, green beans, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, walnuts, chopped herbs, several grinds of pepper, and 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette. Toss thoroughly. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, and vinaigrette.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pan over high heat. Add the prawns in a single layer and cook for about 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned on the outside and opaque throughout.

Toss the prawns into the salad and serve.

Notes:
If you cut the prawns lengthwise, they will go farther in the salad. I cut mine lengthwise after cooking, but you can do it before and they will cook even faster.

Stir Fried Bok Choy and Tofu

It’s day 3 and I’m going strong on my healthy food recharge.

Call it what you want , but I think I like “recharge”. It implies things are on the up.

To recap: For the next two weeks I am basing my eating and cooking on the guidelines, tips, and recipes from Bon Appetit’s Food Lover’s Cleanse. I just want to give my body a little rest from all the not-so-great-for-you things that I maxed out on over the holidays.

I think I would have naturally gravitated toward copious amounts of salad and veggies in this return to routine week, but Bon Appetit’s recipes are far more inspiring than just your average steamed veggies.

Stir fries are always an easy, lightening-fast way to pack a lot of vegetables into a meal.  This recipe uses sesame oil, which I usually shy away from because it can be overpowering but it compliments the ginger and garlic really well in this simple stir fry. Luckily I received a lovely bundle of baby bok choy in my fruit and veg delivery this week – so it was game on for dinner #2!

Stir-Fried Bok Choy and Spinach with Tofu
from Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse, Day 3

– 2 tablespoons soy sauce
– 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
– 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar, divided
– 225 grams/8 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained
– 2 tablespoon olive oil
– 4 spring onions, chopped
– 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
– 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
– Pinch of chilli flakes
– 3 baby bok choy, leaves separated
– 2-3 cups loosely packed fresh spinach

Whisk 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar in bowl.

Stack 2 paper towels on work surface. Cut tofu crosswise into 2 cm/3/4 inch-thick slices; cut each slice crosswise in half. Arrange tofu on paper towels and let stand 10 minutes. Pat top of tofu dry.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook, without moving, until golden brown on bottom, 2–3 minutes per side. Transfer tofu to paper towel to drain, then place tofu on sheet of foil and brush both sides with soy sauce mixture.

Wipe out any oil from skillet. Add 2 teaspoons sesame oil and place skillet over medium heat. Add scallions, ginger, garlic and chili. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add remaining soy sauce mixture and 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar, then bok choy.

Toss until bok choy wilts, 1–2 minutes. Add spinach, tossing to wilt. Season greens with salt and pepper. Add tofu to skillet. Toss gently to blend. Transfer to platter.

I served it with some quinoa on the side.

Bon Appetit-inspired Food Lover’s Cleanse

I could talk about all that cheese, chocolate and wine I consumed over the holidays. But why dwell?

Inspired by Bon Appetit’s Food Lover’s Cleanse – I’m kicking of 2012 heathy-style.

This is not a diet. Diet is an ugly word. This is a food lover’s cleanse. You know, for people who like food and the way good food makes them feel.

When I came across this 2-week cleanse I was pretty excited by some of the recipes, but I thought I’d try making my own version. I’ll incorporate the main guidelines from Bon Appetit’s Cleanse but add in other meals I’ve been meaning to try and put a summer twist to some of their recipes.

Truth be told, healthy food excites me. Flavorful healthy food, that is. Maybe it’s the warm Sydney weather, but I’m pretty stoked to kick off 2 weeks of ultra-good-for-you eating.

You ready? (They still allow you chocolate, a couple of glasses of wine, and the occasional piece of goat cheese.) We can totally do this. Let’s do it!

The rules, a brief summary (read more about it and portion sizes here):

– Minimize dairy – but natural yogurt is all good.
– Take a break from refined grains, bread and pasta. Whole grains are encouraged (whaddup quinoa?)
– Eat at least one salad a day, and make sure vegetables and fruits take up half your plate at most meals.
– Make at least one day a week meat free. I’ll be going for plant proteins and fish for the majority of the time.
– Drink lots of water. (But you knew that.)
– Limit caffeine – if you have to have coffee cap it at 1 cup.
– Use natural sweeteners, like honey and agave.
– Limit of 4 alcoholic drinks in a week.

Not too bad, right?

First up is a Thai salad adapted from Theresa Cutter’s recipe at thehealthychef.com

Raw Thai Salad
(makes 1 large serving)

– 1 Lebanese cucumber
– 1 carrot
– Handful of rocket/arugula or baby spinach
– 1/2 red capsicum/pepper, finely sliced
– 2 spring onions, chopped
– 6 snow peas, sliced in half lengthwise
– 1/2 red chili, finely sliced (optional)
– Handful Thai basil,chopped
– Handful mint leaves, chopped
– 1/4-1/3 cup of diced firm tofu

Dressing
– Juice from 2 limes
– 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
– 1 teaspoon fresh grated fresh ginger
– 2 teaspoons soy sauce
– 1 teaspoon honey
– 1 teaspoon all-natural peanut butter

Use a  vegetable peeler or mandolin to slice all the vegetables into long noodle like strips. Combine all the ingredients then place into a large serving bowl.
Mix together the dressing and pour over the salad just before eating.

~~~~~~
If you’re doing a cleanse for the new year and blogging about it, shoot me a comment. I’d love to see what you’re doing.