Tilapia Fish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Tilapia Fish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

 

https://www.dinneratthezoo.com/tilapia-fish-tacos/

As you all have probably picked up by now, one of my not-so-secret pet peeves is when recipe blogs publish a weekly menu consisting of seven recipes that share no common ingredients. I get that if you’re cooking for a big family, using up ingredients is less of a concern; you can make bigger batches of everything, and worry less about whether the leftovers keep well. But I’m only ever cooking for myself and my husband (and really, since there’s so little overlap in the foods we both like, it’s usually just myself).  So, when I’m building my list each week, and especially when I’m considering what kinds of produce I’ll need, I do my absolute best not to buy anything that will only be used in one dish and then spoil by the end of the week.  And ideally, I try to find a bunch of recipes that all use the same ingredient in different ways.

This week, red cabbage was the star player. (How often do you hear that? Has that even been said before, ever?) I really like the crunch and color of red cabbage on tacos, but I often skip it because I know I won’t use it for anything else. This week, I was delighted to find four different recipes which could all benefit from cabbage. Two of them are Mexican, one is a hearty salad, and one is an Asian-inspired veggie quinoa bowl. It’s exciting to be able to use up a full head of cabbage (or close to it), but not be locked into tacos for the entire week.

That said, I’ve got nothing against tacos! These tilapia tacos with tropical salsa are some of my favorites; I’ve made this recipe several times, and keep coming back to it when I’m in the mood for a unique summery taco. This fruit salsa is another exception to my rule about savory fruit dishes. I typically avoid fruit in salads or any savory dish, but in this case I enjoy it. The spice of the jalapeño and the light taste of the tilapia pair really nicely with a little bit of citrusy sweetness.

I usually prefer corn tortillas to flour, but in this case I had flour tortillas on hand and wanted to use them up. They were fine, though in the future I will stick with corn. I was surprised that I couldn’t find corn tortillas in my local grocery store; possibly another casualty of moving to Canada, where Mexican food isn’t as popular. Someday I’d like to try making my own. It’s a more complex process than you might think, and the history and chemistry behind it are totally fascinating. There’s an amazing Alton Brown episode all about it if you want to know more:

If/when I get a tortilla press and actually try this myself, I’ll post a full breakdown, but in the mean time Alton explains it pretty entertainingly.

Deliciousness score: 7
Easiness score: 7

3.2 rating.png

Vegetarian Crispy Chickpea Tacos

Vegetarian Crispy Chickpea Tacos

https://www.macheesmo.com/crispy-chickpea-tacos/

These tacos were the hands-down star of chickpea week. I’m already a big fan of Macheesmo, and these definitely didn’t disappoint. A creative change of pace from standard taco fillings, they’re a perfect snack or entree for hot summer days. No oven required; you just sauté the chickpeas for a little while on the stove.

I was initially skeptical of the prep time for these (prep time 10 minutes, total time 25 minutes), as recipes in general (and Macheesmo recipes in particular) often take me longer than the stated time. I may be timing it differently; I start counting when I walk in the kitchen door, but I think many recipe authors assume that some of the basic prep work is out of the way first. Things like getting out your knives and cutting boards, getting the spices out of the cupboard, untying the knots on the plastic produce bags (which I assume some adorable person out there is actually doing; I just rip into them obviously) and throwing them away. My kitchen layout is pretty middle-of-the-road, neither notably efficient nor irritatingly horrible, but I do find that logistical stuff like this adds up. I’m also still learning what order works best for each recipe I make; sometimes I realize I started the wrong thing first and could have saved a lot of time by chopping one thing while something else was roasting, etc. I’m getting better at it, but with a new recipe it’s not always obvious right away.

Anyway, all that to say that I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly this came together. I mixed up the chickpeas first and started them frying while prepping the other ingredients. Since the cooking time for the chickpeas is pretty flexible, it worked out really well.

I also saved time by using a pre-chopped broccoli slaw mix in place of radicchio, since I find radicchio too bitter. I looked for sliced cabbage at my grocery store, but broccoli slaw was the closest thing they had, and it turned out great. Honestly, I think you could substitute a lot of different things and still get a great result. You’re just trying to add a little crunch; any firm, mild-tasting green veggie, cabbage, or even kale or lettuce would probably be fine.

I also couldn’t find queso fresco at my local market. (My Canadian fiance tells me that Mexican food isn’t a big thing up here, which is good news as far as he’s concerned but super disappointing for me.) I substituted bocconcini, which as far as I can tell is some kind of mozzarella relative. I knew that queso fresco was a simple cheese, not aged at all but eaten fresh, and the bocconcini seemed to fit that description. It turned out fine; I think cheddar or spicy jack or even feta would also be tasty.

It all looked so pretty laid out in taco bar form.

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The lime sour cream sauce was fantastic – so simple to throw together and super delicious. I actually used the full lime’s worth of juice with the same amount of sour cream, and the extra citrus zing was really nice.

Keeping the sauce and veggie slaw separate makes it easier to store, too. I packed everything up and enjoyed it just as much for lunch the next day. But if you were serving a crowd, you could toss the veggies with the sauce to save a little time.

All in all, a super satisfying, light, and tasty recipe that I’ll definitely be making over and over this summer.

Deliciousness Score: 9
Easiness Score: 6

2.3 pinterest

Vegan Avocado Chickpea Lettuce Wraps

Vegan Avocado Chickpea Lettuce Wraps

http://www.glutenfreeveganpantry.com/avocado-chickpea-lettuce-wraps/

My favorite thing about these little wraps is that they’re dead simple to prepare on autopilot at the end of a long day. I was starting dinner way later than I planned, it was a hot day, and I was already bone tired from working out. These were the perfect solution: just mash up some stuff in a bowl, slice a few bell peppers, and you’re good to go. (I had also had a carb-heavy day, with just cereal for breakfast and pasta for lunch, so carb-free lettuce wraps were sounding great to me by dinnertime.) It was a fun way to eat a ton of veggies, and it hit the spot. And it’s especially perfect for summer days when you’re just not excited about turning on the stove – literally no heat required.

The author conceived of this chickpea mash as a vegan alternative to egg salad. I’m not vegan, so I don’t have any particular need for an egg salad alternative, but it was in fact kind of similar. The chickpeas provide a hearty, smooth base; the soft, fatty avocados add some richness; and the celery & green onions (familiar staples from every egg salad recipe everywhere) add crunch.

While it was definitely a nice, easy light meal, I found myself wanting a little bit of a flavor boost. I used all of the juice from my lemon, more than just 1 Tbsp as written, and still wouldn’t have minded more. I also upped the salt and pepper. If I make this again, I’ll add the lemon zest as well as the juice, and possibly some dijon mustard to take it in an even more egg-salady direction.

I’ll definitely be making this again, because it’s such a light, refreshing summer meal. If you don’t think it’s quite substantial enough for dinner, you can always try it as a healthy lunch or lightweight snack.

Deliciousness Score: 6
Easiness Score: 8

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Grilled Zucchini Corn Tostadas with Spicy Hummus

Grilled Zucchini Corn Tostadas with Spicy Hummus

http://www.nomingthrulife.com/grilled-zucchini-corn-tostadas-spicy-hummus/

This is one of the best recipes I’ve come across in terms of effort-to-deliciousness ratio. It only takes a little bit of work, and the payoff is more than worth it. As long as you have all the ingredients on hand and have the time to grill or roast the veggies, the prep work is a snap, and you end up with a flavor-packed dish that seems like it must have been a lot harder than it really was.

If you have a grill, this is an easy summer staple, great for a light dinner or substantial snack. We technically do have a grill at our house, brand new this summer in fact, buuuuuuuuuut… it’s electric. I have mixed feelings about the electric grill. My fiancé, who is all about no-fuss cooking and alternative energy, was super excited about it, and has had mostly positive results so far. He cooks a lot more meat than I do, and has been very pleased with the grill’s ability to produce precisely-cooked, extra-juicy steaks and such. Personally though, grilling doesn’t do much for me if it doesn’t suffuse everything with that smoky, charred charcoal flavor. We do have some hickory chips for smoking; sometimes they make a difference? But mostly, food isn’t on the grill long enough to really absorb the smoke. I will admit that the setup and cleanup are much less hassle than with a standard charcoal grill. But with some things, the extra work is worth it, and for me summer grilling is one of these things.

That said, when I myself am already roasting from the heat of the day and just can’t deal with the idea of turning on the oven, the grill does a totally adequate job of cooking veggies.  If you’re looking to avoid heating up your kitchen, you can definitely go this route.  When the weather is cooler, I generally use the oven for this recipe.  I don’t roast the vegetables whole in this case. Instead, I dice the zucchini and cut the kernels off the corn, then spread everything in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Add some salt and pepper, toss/stir a bit to combine, and then roast at 425 for about 20 minutes. Your time & temperature may vary; sometimes I bump it up to 445 and roast for a shorter time. You do have to stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on it to avoid ending up with a blackened mess (ask me how I know), but I like to have a little bit of char on roasted vegetables, and the higher temp is great for that (as long as you pull it out in time).

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Once you have your grilled or roasted veggies, it’s just a matter of assembly; spread your hummus on tostadas or tortillas, then top with veggies. I also add feta cheese or queso fresco on top, which I highly recommend. The recipe includes a tasty basic hummus recipe, but naturally you can use any hummus you like, including storebought; if you’re not making hummus from scratch (or are using previously-prepared hummus), it cuts down the prep time even more. I do find that spicy hummus really shines in this recipe, moreso than regular hummus (and I say that as a total lightweight when it comes to spicy foods) – I never order above a 1 at Thai restaurants, but I do like a little spice in this. If you only have regular hummus on hand, you can always throw it into the food processor with a little cayenne pepper or chili powder.

Also, I find that I actually prefer regular tortillas to tostadas here. The tostadas are tricky to eat; they tend to drop toppings if you try to eat them with your hands, but they still crumble awkwardly if you go after them with knife and fork. A soft tortilla can be rolled up like a burrito, and is more convenient in my opinion. Alternatively, you could serve these like nachos, with either tortilla chips or pita chips – a unique & tasty appetizer, easy to whip up in small or large amounts.

I’m always excited to find quick, healthy vegetarian recipes that deliver strong flavors, and this one doesn’t disappoint. I come back to it every couple months and it’s solid every time. You could definitely experiment with other veggie toppings, too: roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, or really anything you like. Hope you’ll give it a try this summer and let me know how it goes!

Deliciousness score: 8
Easiness score: 9

2.2 pinterest

Grocery List – Week 5 – Dinners That Won’t Heat Up Your Kitchen

Summer is here, and even in Canada the weather is officially hot. It’s gorgeous out and the garden is loving it, but the last thing I want to do in the evening is turn on the oven. So this week I have a list of light, refreshing entrees that are great for hot evenings, no oven required. They’re all pretty versatile:  handheld wraps, tacos, or tostadas that would also make easy lunches or tasty snacks.

You might also sense a chickpea theme; for whatever reason, chickpeas just sounded totally delicious to me this week, so if you’ve got some chickpeas hiding in the back of your pantry, now is a good time to break them out. Also note that this week is 100% vegetarian. If you need a more substantial protein, you can easily throw some grilled chicken into any of these dishes.

Note: It’s unlikely that you’ll use up all your sour cream on entrees this week. Usually I try to plan more than one Mexican recipe in a week when I’m buying sour cream, but with the chickpea theme it didn’t quite happen this week. My latest favorite way to use up extra sour cream is to whip up a batch of Sally’s master muffins:

https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2017/04/19/master-muffin-recipe/

They’re infinitely customizable; you can throw in chocolate, bananas, peanut butter, berries, nuts, whatever you like. I made some with haskap berries from our local market last week and they were totally delicious. I may or may not do a writeup on the muffins this week, but just something to keep in mind if you have extra sour cream on hand.

 


Recipes

Roasted Zucchini Corn Tostadas with Spicy Hummus from Noming Thru Life

Avocado Chickpea Lettuce Wraps from Gluten Free Vegan Pantry

Crispy Chickpea Tacos from Macheesmo


 

Shopping List

Produce

2 avocados
celery
green onions
2 lemons
Boston lettuce (or another lettuce with large leaves)
3 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers
radicchio or sliced cabbage
red onion
1 serrano pepper
cilantro
1 lime
2 large zucchini
3 ears of corn

Optional toppings for chickpea lettuce wraps:
cherry tomatoes
alfalfa sprouts
cucumbers

Shelves

3 cans chickpeas (15 oz.)
medium flour or corn tortillas
1 jar roasted red peppers
tahini

Refrigerated/Frozen

queso fresco
sour cream

Pantry Staples

garlic
salt, pepper
olive oil
cumin
chili powder
cayenne powder

Avocado Toast with Chili Lime Corn Salad

Avocado Toast with Chili Lime Corn Salad

http://lovelylittlekitchen.com/chili-lime-sweet-corn-salad/

This is a dead simple little salad that jumped out at me when I was looking for something to do with my leftover cilantro this week. With only six ingredients, it couldn’t be easier to throw together, especially in summer when I’m always looking for excuses to buy corn on the cob. Just toss grilled, roasted, or boiled corn with some lime juice, butter, chili powder, and cilantro, then add feta cheese and salt to taste.  (The author recommends queso fresco, but I always have a hard time finding this in my grocery store; the feta works just fine.)  The recipe also says to boil the corn, which would be perfectly fine too, but it’s extra-amazing with grilled corn.  And you have the added bonus of not having to heat up your kitchen at all.

It’s not quite a complete dinner on its own, but it’s a perfect side dish or snack. My favorite way to eat it is as a topping on avocado toast.

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I just discovered avocado toast; apparently it’s been a big deal for a while now, but I am not hip and just tried it for the first time. I was a little skeptical when I heard this was a dish people were paying $19 for at brunch, but I have to admit it’s ridiculously good. I used this whole wheat bread recipe from King Arthur Flour to make a hearty bread for toasting:

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/everyday-whole-grain-bread-recipe

This bread doesn’t rise very high, as many whole grain breads don’t, but it still has a relatively light texture. I halved the recipe, but still made two loaves as written, which came out very flat. Then I cut them in half vertically as well as horizontally, to get four large toast-size pieces from each loaf. Each piece is crust on one full side, which ordinarily isn’t my favorite, but it’s great for toast that you’re going to load up with toppings because it doesn’t fall apart or soak through.

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Anyway, if you haven’t tried avocado toast yet, I highly recommend it. For this one, I just mashed up 1/4 ripe avocado and smeared it on the toast, followed by the corn salad. There are basically infinite topping options; I’ll definitely be exploring more of them in the near future.

Deliciousness score: 7/10
Easiness score: 9/10 (slightly lower if you make bread for toast)

6.5 rating

Herbed Ricotta & Tomato Crostini

Herbed Ricotta & Tomato Crostini

http://www.goodlifeeats.com/herbed-ricotta-and-tomato-crostini/

As I mentioned earlier in the week, Good Life Eats was one of my first favorite food blogs; I spent a lot of time in my mid-20’s scouring this site, trying to teach myself how to make simple recipes actually taste good. This herbed ricotta & tomato crostini is the perfect example of a quick and easy meal that is actually enjoyable. It’s perfect for warm-weather evenings: a versatile snack or simple dinner that takes about ten minutes to throw together, no stove required. (Ok, I did use my stove to toast the bread since we don’t have a toaster, but if you *do* have a toaster, you’re golden.) (Just like your toast!) 😀

I will say that with this recipe, you don’t want to skimp on the parmesan. Ricotta is a nice base for the herb spread, but it’s a bland cheese, and unless you’re really delighted by bland cheese (some people are, no judgment!), you will want to get a more aggressive flavor in there. In fact, if you have leftover cream cheese from this week’s Irish grilled cheese sandwich, you could try adding some of that.

I really wish I’d had balsamic vinegar on hand for this recipe; I only had my store-brand bottle of red wine vinegar, which I thought would be sufficient. While it’s great in salad dressings (which is what I primarily use it for), a stronger balsamic would have helped here; with such simple preparation, each ingredient really needs to pull its weight. I usually make a point of spending a little extra to get the best oil and vinegar I can afford; I feel like a spoiled debutante every time I make one of these purchases, but A) it does seem (based on my limited research) like Kim Kardashian et. al. don’t spend a lot of time thinking about fancy vinegar, and B) it makes a huge difference in the final taste, especially in pared-down dishes like this. Saint John has a cute downtown shop that sells local oil and vinegar; I know this because we walked past it several times when we were staying downtown waiting to close on our house, but I don’t remember where it is or what it was called. Next time we’re in town, I’ll make a point to find it and resupply.

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In any case, I used a heavy hand with the parmesan (after the photo was taken, of course – I seem to need to get two or three bites into a dish before I remember the last ingredient), and also added some extra salt and pepper, and this still turned out delicious. I’m definitely looking forward to making it again later in the summer when I have fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden.

4.4-rating