Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tilapia with Zucchini Pappardelle

It's definitely squash season. Know how I can tell? My biweekly community supported agriculture deliveries are overrun with zucchini of various shapes and sizes as well as those crooked-necked summer squash. Last year, I had so much zucchini that at one point I had to make a triple recipe of zucchini bread just to make a dent. I'm definitely handling the squash load better this year, thanks in no small part to new and innovative ways to use these veggies. The latest creation is based on a Gourmet Magazine recipe that uses zucchini in place of pasta.

Tilapia with Zucchini Pappardelle
Makes 4 servings

1 pound zucchini, trimmed
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tilapia fillets (or 2 halved fillets)
1 tbsp dried basil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsp water
1 cup basil, torn
4 lemon wedges, for garnish

Using a mandolin, thinly slice zucchini lengthwise to about 1/8" thickness. Slice these ribbons in half lengthwise to form long "noodles." Set aside.

Pat fish dry, then season with salt, pepper and dried basil. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Saute tilapia until browned and just cooked through, about 8-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. Remove tilapia from pan and set aside, loosely covering with foil to keep warm.

Add garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until pale brown, about 1 minute. Add water and scrape up any brown bits left on the pan. Add zucchini to the pan and cook briefly, just until crisp-tender. Be sure to keep tossing the zucchini while it's in the pan, kind of like in stir-fry, so it does not overcook. Divide zucchini among four plates in little mounds. Season the zucchini with a little salt. Place one fillet over each mound of "pasta," then scatter the torn basil on top.

Tilapia with Zucchini Pappardelle

I'm always a skeptic when someone wants to get rid of my pasta. Whether they are trying to get me to eat my vegetables or are even just using whole wheat pasta, I'm usually not as satisfied with the dish. But this twist on zucchini is surprisingly satiating. It still had some crunch to it (dare I say al dente?) and it tasted fresh and light. The fish did very nicely with the dried basil on it and the addition of fresh basil all around the plate helped bring out the lighter side. I like to combine both dried and fresh herbs in some dishes since dried herbs can withstand some heat while fresh herbs are more fussy and best without a lot of manipulation. Not only was this meal low-carb (but who's counting?) and gluten-free, it was highly satisfying and fast.

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