Tilapia al Ajillo, a.k.a. Garlic Tilapia. It's amazing what a name can do for a dish. If I was sitting down in a restaurant and saw 'Tilapia al Ajillo' on the menu, I'd be intrigued. If I saw 'Garlic Tilapia' I'd probably be repulsed by the combo of garlic and fish. What's in a name, eh Juliet? A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but when it comes to food, the wrong name can be a real dealbreaker. (This Shakespearean moment brought to you by "Talk Like Shakespeare Day" in celebration of the Bard's 445th birthday. Party on, Will.)
I have an overstuffed freezer. This is partly because I have a fear of a lack of food. I'm terrified that I'll open it one day and I won't see a thing except some frosty ice cube trays. I go on meat buying binges and make sure we're stocked up on staples...frozen shrimp for a fast cocktail, pork chops, chicken pieces, steak for last minute dinner, ice cream (clearly my priorities are in line), ground beef, and stew meat. I'm ready for anything, man!
Last month, after more than a year of saying I was going to support my local school and purchase food from Market Day, I actually DID IT. Unreal. I knew I had to after I grabbed the order form one Sunday and my husband said to me, "I think it's cute how to always take an order form and then forget to fill it out and turn it in." It's not entirely my fault. One week I took a form from church and the damn thing was expired, and some weeks they never put them in church to begin with. It's really only 1/3 of the time that I'm a flake.
Anyway, I ordered and ordered a little too much. Now we have salmon fillets and steaks and baby baked potatoes and frozen vegetable medleys (I'm getting lazy), and no room for any of it. We picked up our Market Day order and then spent 20 minutes rearranging the freezer and the stacks of frozen meat and fish, all the while listening to my husband say, "You SERIOUSLY bought too much." We figured it out, managed to close the door, left town for the weekend, and said a prayer that we wouldn't come home to a freezer explosion and meat spilled all over the kitchen floor. Since then, I've been trying to free up a little space in the freezer so I don't need to remove what I want, rearrange the food, and then quickly slam the door so it all doesn't collapse in a heap on the floor. I found two little tilapia fillets left over from the beginning of Lent and decided to say goodbye to them. I went off in search of a decent recipe and found this one.
It was goooooooooooooooooooooooood! Lots of bright, clean, fresh flavors. Perfect for spring and summer! Best of all? Less than 10 minutes from the pan to the table. My sides took longer to prep than the entree! Sweet.
Tilapia al Ajillo
(Adapted from Recipezaar)
2 Tilapia fillets
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
Salt and pepper
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. fresh minced parsley
Season fillets with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil (about 2 T.) over medium-high heat.
Add fillets to skillet and saute for 2 minutes. Add garlic to the skillet; continue cooking 3-4 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets. Turn over and cool 3-4 minutes on the other side or until fillets are cooked through and flake easily with a fork.
Spoon lemon juice over fillets and top with parsley. Serve immediately.
- The garlic should crisp but not burn. Once garlic turns golden brown, remove to a plate or spoon over the fish to keep it from burning. The garlic should be crispy and flavorful with the fish, not charred.
- The garlic chips add a great taste to the whole meal. The flavor really blossomed, and a little goes a long way. Next time I might knock it down to 2 cloves instead of 3.
- This is a really bright, fresh meal with lots of flavor. The lemon and parsley work perfectly with the fish and it tastes exactly like a light summer meal should.
- There aren't many calories in this meal, either. The fish is a great alternative for protein and a little salt and pepper go a long way. I'm definitely keeping this on my summer meal list. No oven and no standing over a stove for 3 hours. AWESOME.
- I served this with basic white rice and steamed broccoli. Each side took longer to cook than the entree, which can't be beat. This is perfect for weeknights.
- This looks and sounds fancy but couldn't be easier to prepare. If you're afraid of fish, this is a great meal to start with.