Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Perfect Warm-Weather Meal

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Today I have two recipes for you. The main dish I put together for dinner the other night was so easy that I had plenty of time to whip up the perfect fruit crisp too. It's been heating up here on the Eastern Shore lately and we're already enjoying the magic of air conditioning in May! I've been on the hunt for great lighter, fresh meals that use the great local produce I'm finding at our farmer's markets and grocery stores.

This week, my favorite dinner recipe is this one for Fish Tacos with a fresh salsa. It was so quick, took literally 30 minutes max to put together. The prep took the longest, just dicing up the veggies for the salsa! The salsa was light and fresh and packed just the right amount of heat. This is a recipe I found (where else?) in Food Network Magazine and I put a little of my own twist on the salsa and the seasonings for the fish. The result was super-tasty and surprisingly filling for a light fish-based dinner.

Keep reading after this recipe and I'll share the recipe for the best Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp I've ever eaten!

Tilapia Fish Tacos with Fresh Salsa

- 2 medium-sized tomatillo, husked, rinsed and diced
- 1 large tomato (I used 3 roma tomatoes)
- 3 tbsp. fresh cilantro (chopped)
- 1/2 small red onion (diced)
- 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 poblano pepper (diced)
- salt & pepper
- old bay seasoning (of course!)
- vegetable oil (for frying the fish)
- olive oil
- 5 tilapia fillets (or any mild, firm white fish)
- 3/4 cup self-rising flour
- 8 tortillas (warmed)
- shredded lettuce or shredded purple cabbage


Make the salsa while you heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet. Mix the tomatillo, tomato, onion, cilantro, lime juice, poblano and a healthy drizzle of olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. You want your fish to be cut in about 1" pieces. Combine the flour, a healthy tbsp. of Old Bay seasoning and a liberal sprinkle of salt and pepper. Toss the fish with the flour mixture until well coated.

3. Fry the fish in batches, don't crowd the pan too much. Turn the fish pieces as needed to make sure it is golden brown and cooked through - roughly 4 minutes per batch. Transfer the fish to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and season with salt while hot. All you have left to do is assemble your tacos and chow down!

The perfect follow-up to this light and fresh meal is a fruit crisp. I absolutely love rhubarb, especially paired with strawberries. However, it is incredibly hard to find in the area where I live.

I have no clue why, since we live in an agricultural area, I guess not many farmers grow it locally here! In a recent trip to PA I was able to hunt down an abundance of rhubarb at the local farmer's markets, so I grabbed a bunch and brought it home.

I was planning on picking strawberries with my mother-in-law this past week, however my immune system had other plans and I got hit with the mother of all sinus infections. She ended up going on her own and shared the bounty of fresh strawberries with me so I could whip up this incredible summery dessert. I plan on going strawberry picking next week as long as my sinuses agree!

This dessert strikes a perfect balance between tart and sweet with just a hint of that hearty, crispy crumb topping. I found this recipe by Anne Burrell and it was exactly what I was looking for. I hope you try it and hit me up with any other recipes you love that use rhubarb!

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

- 3 cups (stemmed and quartered) fresh strawberries
- 4 stalks rhubarb
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 large lemon (zested and juiced)
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/4 sticks butter (cut into pea-sized pieces)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1-2 tbsp. water


Preheat the oven to 350 and begin making your filling. Chop the rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces and combine it with the strawberries, white sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice and vinegar. Stir well to combine and spread into a wide, shallow baking dish.

2. Mix up your crisp topping - combine the flour, oats and brown sugar in a medium-size bowl and whisk to combine. Add in the butter, vanilla and salt, breaking it up and working it into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter (you could also use a food processor if you want). If the mixture seems a little dry, add 1-2 tbsps. of water.

3. Crumble the topping in chunky "blobs" over the filling. Bake until the filling is hot and bubbly and the topping looks crispy and light brown - about 30 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream and good luck trying not to eat the entire pan in one sitting!

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