Yes, you can have a bunch of kids running around and still entertain. Even better, you can invite friends over for dinner and barely lift a finger to make the meal. Fish is your solution. It bakes in minutes, all in one oven-safe dish, and it can be served simply with a salad or you can go “all out” with some couscous and asparagus. And if you’re keeping dinner this relaxed, I suggest pie for dessert — fresh from the Farmer’s Market.
RECIPE: Baked Fish with Basil, Garlic and Lemon
4 x 115g (4 oz.) Tilapia filets
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
4-6 slices fresh lemon
6-8 large leaves fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
You can use any whitefish but I chose tilapia for today’s recipe. Assume about 115g (4 oz.) per person, and just choose your dish size so that all the fillets lie flat on the bottom when baking. (I line the bottom of my dish with parchment, for easier clean-up)
Tilapia, meet flavour: You can add what you like, but I topped my filets with some lemon (for acidity) and a drizzle of olive oil, and then threw in some sliced garlic, fresh basil and salt and pepper.
A quick reminder: to easily chop your basil, stack a few leaves and roll them into a cigar shape.
Next, simply slice through your “basil cigar” with a sharp knife, to create thin herbal ribbons — a chiffonade.
This is crazy: We’re already ready for the oven! Did it even have time to preheat to 375°F?! Cover your dish with foil (I used a glass casserole dish) and bake the fish for about 15 minutes. You want the flesh flaky and opaque; still tender. Remember, it will continue to cook a little longer once out of the oven.
You can prepare your sides in advance, and quickly reheat. Then serve without breaking a sweat. If you’re making this for the family, let the kids get creative by allowing them to choose the herbs and aromatics to flavour the fish.
Otherwise, don’t give dinner another thought. That summer novel, on the other hand…
What are your own favourite fish for baking?
Sue Riedl is a Toronto-based food writer with a passion for cheese who writes a column called The Spread for The Globe and Mail. She loves to push stinky cheese on her 3-year-old.
by Sue Riedl