Friday, April 8, 2011

Stewed Vegetables with Baked Tilapia

Whenever my schedule begins to get crazy, I find myself making less healthy food choices. I'm sure many people can relate, am I right? Come on.... you all know what I'm talking about. It's easier to just order a quick take out something instead of cooking a nutritious meal, right? Cheese steak? Egg rolls? Onion rings? Burgers and fries? Pizza? Yes, I've had my fair share of "pick up a pizza on the way home" nights, but sooner or later, it starts to get old.  Don't get me wrong. Believe me when I tell you I love anything deep fried and I've never met a pizza I didn't like. But after a while, I begin to crave fresh produce and crispy green salads, and NO pizza or NO deep fried anything.
  So, recently, I found myself at the grocery store, once again tired of all the heavy and craving the more healthy. I decided to buy a bunch of fresh veggies and go from there. I wanted something that was low in fat, and very hearty. I chose the freshest rainbow assortment of veggies I could find, added some fresh herbs and aromatics and I was on my way to a delicious stew. Oh, and instead of adding chicken or beef to it, I decided to serve it along with some baked tilapia. The two seemed to be the perfect pair, so I went with it. The tilapia is really just a blank canvas for the vegetables, so I just seasoned it with salt and pepper, then baked it.
 So there you have it. The final dish was SO yummy, it was TOTALLY what I was craving. I'm so pleased with how it turned out!!! If you're a vegetarian or looking for a meatless dish or even if you're just a fan of fresh vegetables, then you MUST give this recipe a try!

olive oil
1 medium onion
4 large cloves garlic
2 small zucchini
2 small yellow squash
1 lb bag baby carrots
2 parsnips
1 lb fresh green beans
1 lb snow peas
1 28 oz can sliced stewed tomatoes
1 cup vegetable stock
handful fresh basil
handful fresh parsley
2 or 3 springs fresh thyme
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs tomato paste

Heat oven to 350F.
Place a large heavy pot on the stove top and add a few glugs of olive oil. Roughly chop the onion and add it to the pot. Let it saute over medium heat for a bit, then add the chopped garlic. Roughly chop the remaining veggies into large chunks and add them to the pot. In a small bowl, stir together the canned tomatoes, vegetable stock, chopped herbs, and salt and pepper. Pour over the pot of vegetables. Place a lid on top and place the whole pot in the oven. Let it cook for a good hour. In the meantime, Place tilapia fillets in a baking dish. Spray with olive oil cooking spray. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
 When the veggies are tender, remove pot from oven and use a slotted spoon to remove the veggies to a large bowl, leaving the broth behind. Add tomato paste and cook over low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the pan of tilapia in the oven. Remove when it's cooked through. (baking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fillets).
  Serve vegetables with tilapia and pour the sauce over the top.

Clearly, the vegetables can be changed to suit your own tastes. If you love carrots, add a lot of carrots. If you're not feeling the green beans, omit them entirely. If you want to add mushrooms, go ahead and add mushrooms. It's best to just go to your produce market and see what looks good.
Substitute any kind of fish you like. If you're not in the mood for fish, you can do the same with boneless chicken breasts. Just slice them thinly.
When making the sauce, if it's too thick, add a little more vegetable stock. If it's too thin, add a little more tomato paste, then adjust the seasoning if necessary.
You can use chicken stock or even just plain water if you don't have any vegetable stock.
You could also serve the veggies and sauce over a bed of rice or pasta.

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