Before I begin: remember what I said about how Maggie and I seem to be on the same culinary wavelength? Remember? Well. It's happened again. WHILE I WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTRY. I can think of three explanations for this:
1. Genius is coast to coast.
2. Maggie and I are joined at the brain.
3. Memes are actually airborne.
Take your pick.
Now! Having said that, let's talk tomatoes and tilapia. I made this little delight as a sort of farewell to the bay area--a last meal on the way out of town. (Also to make sure that R didn't regret putting us up for a night and then driving us to the airport after a fuel truck explosion shut down the 880.) The inspiration came squarely from my mother and her prodigious tomato patch, widely and intimidatingly grown from the time we planted it who knows how many years ago.
This once feeble little patch is all grown up. It looms. It lurks. It has taken over an entire quadrant of the garden, and provides my mother with more tomatoes than she has any clue what to do with. And, not just any tomatoes--some of the sweetest, most delightful little lycopene bombs you could ever hope to meet. When we arrived in Sonoma county, every available surface in my mother's huge kitchen was covered in the bounty--tomatoes as far as the eye could see. We spent four days snacking prodigiously upon them, and our exit visas were contingent upon bringing a tub of them with us.
Though we did actually entertain the notion of bringing them all the way back to the east coast with us, logic ultimately prevailed and we decided to use them to cook for R instead of trying to haul them through airport security (I mean, what if they didn't survive the flight? Or were confiscated? IT DOESN'T BEAR THINKING ABOUT). So, this is what we came up with: it's flavorful, healthy, and with a little advance planning could easily be adapted for a ludicrously quick weekday dinner. Win!
Baked tilapia with slow-roasted tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes (at least a pint)
3-4 medium shallots, finely diced
handful fresh basil, roughly torn
3-4 tilapia fillets
red wine vinegar
1 tbsp butter
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Halve the larger tomatoes, but leave the smaller ones (i.e., anything that would be difficult to slice in half) whole; toss them into a baking dish and drizzle them with a little olive oil. Bake for two hours (or more!)--until they are withered and sweet and irresistible.
- When the tomatoes are done, remove them from the oven and crank up the heat to about 375 degrees. Coat the tilapia with a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Bake for about eight minutes, or until the flesh is firm and opaque.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat; using the butter, saute the shallots until they are translucent; turn off the heat, and add the tomatoes, basil, and a little salt and pepper (and another glug of red wine vinegar, if you're feeling festive).
- Serve the tomato sauce over the tilapia; it goes nicely with some couscous and sauteed spinach.