Monday, May 30, 2011

Pool days

I'm so excited to stop by our apartment complex's pool after lunch today! It opened this weekend of course, and the high for today is supposed to hit the lower 90s, so it couldn't be more perfect. I still have a bit of work to do, but that can wait till this evening. It's a pool day!

For dinner, I think I might do this recipe from a few weeks ago. I adapted it from one of Rachael Ray's cookbooks, and it's just fantastic. I season it with some applewood-smoked sea salt from a shop in the North Market here in Columbus. It really adds some depth to the dish!

Tilapia with Balsamic Brown Butter and Creamy Tomato Farfalle

- extra virgin olive oil
- 5 slices bacon (I like to use applewood smoked), chopped
- 2 shallots or 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 6-oz cans plain tomato sauce
- 4 tilapia filets
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 box farfalle bow-tie pasta
- about 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
- 1/4 cup cream
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- fresh basil (optional)

Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. While that's heating, heat about a tablespoon of oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook until crisp. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper, cooking until tender but not quite browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes so all the flavors mix together.

Season the fish with salt and pepper, dust with the flour and shake off any excess. Heat about 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side, until it flakes easily with a fork. Remove to a separate plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

While the fish is cooking, salt the pasta water (here's where I use the applewood smoked salt) and add the pasta, cooking to al dente. Also, stir the frozen peas into the tomato sauce. Bring it back up to a low simmer and add the cream. Season with salt and pepper if needed. (Again, I throw in some of the applewood smoked salt if I think the dish needs a bit more smokey flavor. I use regular salt if the bacon has done its job.)

Add the 3 tablespoons butter to the pan the fish cooked in. Brown over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in the balsamic vinegar and simmer until it reduces by half, about a minute or two. Pour over the fish.

Drain the pasta, toss with the sauce and wilt the basil into the sauce if using. Serve together.

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