In the supermarket the other day, Leandro asked for fish for lunch. This is not in itself odd…everyone in this family is island-born somehow, we all love fish, and he is a huge fan of River Monsters on Animal Planet (which I strongly encourage, because I think Jeremy – the mad fisherman — is quite hot and much better to watch with my son than Diego the animal rescuer – why, why, why do he and his bloody cousin, Dora the Explorer, have to shout everything they say? – or Phineas and Ferb – who are quite sweet, but not nearly as compelling as flesh and blood Jeremy and his sunburnt, craggy-faced, understated British delivery, rod-wielding self ).
Fortunately, I had all the ingredients in – aside from the fish, it’s a pantry dish, and double fortunately, Leandro loved it, so happy, happy! Triple fortunately, it can be adapted to chicken and shrimp too, so keep that in mind! I’m happy, hope you’re happy too…
I served it with spinach pasta, on the boy’s request…I definitely would have preferred polenta, but who has time for that at 1 p.m. with no lunch ready?
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ Cup roasted red peppers (yellow or green are fine too!)
Pinch hot red pepper flakes, optional
8 oz can Spanish-style tomato sauce
8-10 pimiento-stuffed green olives, sliced
1 generous tsp capers, drained indifferently
½ -1 lb tilapia filets (or other flat whitefish)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan at medium high until liquid and fragrant. Add onions, stir to coat, and lower heat to medium. After five minutes, add garlic and peppers and pepper flakes, if desired. Cook an additional 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender, then add tomato sauce, olives and capers and cook at a lively simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, lightly salt and pepper tilapia filets on both sides. When sauce has cooked until the oil is beginning to separate from the sauce, lay filets on the sauce without filets touching one another.
Cook for about 4 minutes, then turn filets carefully (they will fall apart if you are not careful) and cover with sauce, cooking another 4 minutes or so (check for doneness – opaque flesh – with a fork). The genius of this recipe is that the fish won’t dry out if overcooked!
Serve with rice or atop polenta.