Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tilapia with Tomatillo Salsa

As I mentioned very briefly in my previous post, I've been on somewhat of a paleo-inspired diet lately. My team at work decided to do it together for a week and see how it went, and, so far, pretty good. I'm on my ninth day (well, seventh really, because I fell off the wagon at a wedding this weekend).

One of my best friends has been eating paleo for the past year or so, and she's seen tremendous results and I think has felt really great overall (she's also a CrossFit addict). It makes sense. You're cutting a lot of carbs (particularly starch), dairy and sugar.

Now I'm no expert on the paleo diet and I won't pretend to be, but I will say that cutting out sugar has been huge for me. Those of you who know me well know about my sweet tooth. Specifically, my gummy bear addiction. I eat way too much sugar and I could already see a difference in my body and how I felt after cutting it out for just a few days.

Look, being gluten-free already limits my diet substantially, so I don't think I could stick to a strict paleo diet forever. It also involves a lot of meat eating, and probably a little too much for me (which is why I've been experimenting more with fish of late). But I think there's something to be said for eating a ton of vegetables and minimally processed foods.

I'm starting to reintroduce fruit back into my diet this week because I was really missing my green smoothie every morning, which has banana and pineapple in it. But I'm going to try and stick with the no dairy (again, tough for me because I love cheese) and no sweets. I'll keep you posted!

 So, moving onto today's recipe! Last night I decided I wanted to make fish tacos (sans taco because I'm not currently allowed to eat corn tortillas), so I did a little investigating on the internet. Not surprisingly my search led me to one of my favorites, Mark Bittman. I've never tried a Bitty recipe I didn't like. And they're simple and easy, which as you know is my motto when it comes to cooking.

I landed on this recipe for Tomatillo Salsa and knew I had to try it (and I knew my boyfriend would love it, which he did). I always need a little kick with fish, and a perfect kick this was. As always, I amended the recipe to make it my own (threw in some yellow tomatoes, avocado and additional cilantro), but many thanks to Bitty for the inspiration and culinary guidance.

The colors were beautiful. The green salsa, white fish and gorgeous purple cabbage I picked up at the Union Square Greenmarket (my absolute favorite) complimented each other so well on the plate. I didn't want to ruin the picture perfect meal by taking my first bite!

I loved this meal because it was delicious and totally nutritious, with all natural ingredients. Nothing was processed, and most everything was 100% fresh. I didn't need a tortilla or two to fill me up; this was enough. As I continue down this paleo rode I realize how much food I've been unnecessarily eating (ahem, cheese and crackers before dinner every single night).

Okay, so enough blabbering from me and onto the recipe! I'm mad I didn't take better pictures, particularly of the fish and salsa before I plated everything, but hopefully you can get a good enough sense from what I included above. (Side note: I'm hoping to stop taking pictures on my iPhone and start taking more professional looking pictures with my Nikkon D3000, but I'm still trying to figure out my new lens.)

Tilapia with Tomatillo Salsa

Yield: 2 servings
Time: 30 minutes

For the salsa:

2 cups rinsed and chopped tomatillos (they're not supposed to be ripe like a tomato, so don't worry)
1 large poblano pepper (also called poblano chili), chopped
2 small yellow or green tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 white onion, chopped
1/4 avocado
1/2 jalapeño, minced
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Chopping is time consuming, but not everything has to be perfectly chopped because you're throwing everything into a blender. Put all of the ingredients into a medium bowl and transfer to the blender when ready (you might need to do this in shifts, depending on how big and powerful your blender is). Pulse it on high until it has a salsa or sauce-like consistency (it can be as chunky or smooth as you like).  Taste it, and if you feel like it needs additional flavor, feel free to add anything you like (cilantro, lime juice, jalapeño, salt, etc.).

 For the tilapia:

2 pieces fresh tilapia (serving size is up to you)
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil (the latter is paleo friendly)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a sauce pan. Add tilapia, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes (until white). Flip and do the same on the other side.

Place over a bed of shredded fresh cabbage (about 1 cup per plate), top with tomatillo salsa and serve immediately!

We also threw together a side salad with tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and lime juice, which was a perfect compliment to the dish.


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