Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spiced Pepita Crusted Tilapia with Pickled Green Tomatoes

This was a pretty cool little recipe I came up with pretty much on the fly. And a great back story which is always fun in explaining the back end of how something came together. My parents just returned from a epic tour of the South and let me tell you, they know how to live it up. The best hotels, amazing activities, and of course, the most decadent food that could be had in New Orleans, Mobile, Charleston, Florida, etc. One of the things my Mom picked up for me in a little shop in Charleston though was a jar of our shared love, pickled green tomatoes. No, not chow chow, but largish green, perfectly pickled green tomato pieces. The kind that I'll eat straight from the jar, but are also excellent with a deep fried piece of catfish.
So coming home from the airport on Monday after a wonderful alma mater Homecoming weekend in Dallas, those pickles were all I could think of. And yes, I'd happily make those my dinner any exhausting night of the week but sitting on a plane for 4 hours also allows for my creative juices to flow so it just evolved from there. Catfish, breaded and  panfried. Maybe some roasted onions and okra. But that's just so... plain. And the catfish at the fish market looks... not good. But the tilapia looks fresh and it's another fresh water flakey white fish. And how about some roasted ground pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) in place of the breadcrumbs, with the same delicious spices? Served over my favorite carb mixture of Texmati and quinoa. Well the verdict is, it works. Actually it's delicious, the pepitas make it so fitting for autumn, but it's still light and provides a nice crispy breading for the fish which is a nice compromise between regular breadcrumbs and all out nut crusts like pecan. And the leftover ground pepita mixture helped to thicken up the sauce without the use of any cream.
Still working on finding time to get a new card *sigh*
Spiced Pepita Crusted Tilapia
1 c. roasted pepitas- ground up or heavily crushed
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground oregano
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tilapia fillets- this could serve 2-4 people depending on fillet size. Could also use catfish or trout
2 Tbl. olive oil
Pickled green tomatoes

1. In a pie tin or a large plate add the crushed pepitas with the chili powder, oregano, paprika, cayenne, 1/4 tsp. of salt and 1/4 tsp of the pepper. Mix well and set aside.

2. Pat the tilapia dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper with the remaining amounts and then press the fish into the pepita mixture, making sure to coat all areas well. Shake off any excess breading.

3. In a saute pan, heat 1 Tbl oil per fillet over medium heat and cook fillets one at a time until the breading is browned, about 3-4 minutes per side. Let drain on paper towels, then serve over rice, roasted vegetables and of course, pickled green tomatoes.

Pickled Green Tomato picture via.

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