Healthy Garlic Breadcrumb Baked Fish

I am many miles away from this place…

Going to school in upstate New York means that the fish supply is questionable. I’m not keen on the “fresh” fish that is sold in the supermarket, and there aren’t any boutique fish markets around. True, I could go ice fishing as many residents do, but the cost-benefit of laboring over my protein is not worth it. Obviously fresh, local fish is the best kind both in terms of taste and sustainability, but there are times when this is just not possible to purchase. Cue frozen fish.

Before arriving at school, I stocked up on frozen foods which included halibut steaks and haddock fillets from Whole Foods. Frozen fillets are certainly better than Gordon’s Fish Sticks (although admittedly those are pretty tasty, bringing back many childhood memories).

This recipe, Garlic Breadcrumb Baked Fish is one that will become a staple in my recipe repertoire. Served with a generous salad and a side of couscous, this meal comes together in no time.

Garlic Breadcrumb Baked Fish

4 white fish fillets or steaks (adjust cooking times for thickness)

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used Italian style)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In an oiled baking pan, place fish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix bread crumbs, garlic, oil, cheese and thyme until a thick paste forms. Pat mixture on fish. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until fish easily flakes.

 

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Green Things, Roasted

The best thing about being back at school, other than my brilliant Creative Writing Workshop, is that I finally have an oven. I am (most certainly) making my way in life: first going from an oven-less kitchen with a less-than-desirable electric stove top, then to an kitchen with an oven and a more desirable electric stove top. Next stop: commercial-grade eight burner gas stove. I kid, but I do dream.

During one of my sweeps of the internet for recipes and food photos, I decided to google: recipes for one person. I was surprised to find that there are very few sites with somewhat appealing recipes for one person. Of course, there is the recipe for a dozen cookies that could easily be mistaken for one serving.

Disappointed and with few ingredients available, I opted for a green, filling, and perfectly-sized meal: couscous and roasted broccoli. Why had I never thought to roast broccoli before? It is by far one of the best ways I have ever eaten broccoli.

Roasted Broccoli

2 florets of broccoli

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp olive olive

Juice from 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss broccoli with garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. Place broccoli on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the broccoli starts to brown and is tender when pierced. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve.

At last, Black Beans (and a Quinoa Salad)

As you may know from previous posts, there seems to be a black bean shortage in Australia. Boy, are those Aussies missing out on my favorite protein-packed legume. Now that I’m home, you can imagine my excitement as I swiped cans of black beans into my cart at the supermarket. It probably looked like I was preparing for a winter storm, or a fiesta for one thousand hungry guests. Instead, I planned on making a Black Bean Quinoa Salad.

It is nice to see some color from onions, pepper, cilantro and corn (even if it is canned) at this time of year. I added more salt than the recipe calls for, seeing as I didn’t believe a quarter teaspoon would be enough for the massive amount of salad the recipe makes. By massive, I mean I had to use the biggest bowl in my kitchen which barely fits in the refrigerator. Nonetheless, the salad tastes great as leftovers, as the dressing keeps the salad moist and delicious. And an added benefit is that this salad is supremely healthy, filled with beans and veggies, as well as the super-food quinoa.

Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Adapted from Eat, Live, Run

2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, diced

1 can corn

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 large avocado, diced

1 small bunch cilantro, chopped

Juice of 3 limes

2 tsp cumin

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

sea salt, to taste

 

Cook quinoa according to package (typically 1 cup uncooked quinoa to 2 cups water, bring water and quinoa to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes). Let cool.

Mix black beans, onion, cilantro, pepper, avocado and corn in a really large bowl. Toss.

In small bowl, whisk together lime juice, cumin, extra virgin olive oil, and salt.

Add quinoa to salad. Pour dressing over and toss.

Easy Shrimp Scampi and a Food Court

The food court at the Pitt Street Mall in Sydney is perhaps the wildest food court I’ve ever visited. I mean that in the best way possible. The walls are a shiny black granite-like material, making you feel like you’ve landed somewhere glamorous. It also makes it seem like the food court is endless, which in some respects it is. Check out the ice cream sundaes and smoothie station below:

Concerning the shrimp, I trekked down to the major supermarket about a mile away just to buy frozen shrimp. Call me crazy, but it was the best decision. Not only did I get shrimp, but I also purchased some yummy quinoa flakes.

As a student who occasionally (i.e. most of the time) wants a fast meal and one that requires little cleaning, I loved this lightened shrimp scampi dish. The best part about this recipe? It’s made using just a microwave. I served it with brown rice because I didn’t have pasta around. I also added more baby spinach than the recipe called for. The shrimp I purchased were smaller than I imagined, but at least they were cooked, peeled and deveined. On a different note, all shrimp in Australia are called prawns, despite the distinction between the two fish.

Microwave Shrimp Scampi

Serves 1

12 small-medium frozen shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup spinach leaves, chopped

1 tsp olive oil

1/2 tsp butter

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 lemon, juice

salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a large microwaveable bowl. Toss to coat shrimp. Microwave for 1 minute. Remove and mix again. Microwave for another 1 minute 15 seconds. Serve over pasta or, as I did, rice.

The picture does not do this dish justice, but believe me, it’s delicious, quick, easy, and oven-less.

Couscous Therapy

I remember vaguely the first time I ate couscous. I was about nine years old, at an African restaurant in Paris. It involved a lot of eating with your hands. Aside from that, the only part I remember is that my mother got food poisoning.

Subconsciously, I believe this left a negative association on me towards couscous for many years. But don’t be too concerned, I have been rehabilitated to savor the taste of the delicious grain.

The most common types of couscous are Moroccan and Israeli, Moroccan being the smaller of the two grains. Israeli couscous can take longer to cook, but it holds sauces better and makes great leftovers that are not soggy. Seeing as leftovers are the basis of my sustenance at school, I figured I’d try out an Israeli Couscous and Chickpea Salad.

I always am shocked when I make something edible. I make enough mistakes in the kitchen, whether it be that time in 3rd grade when I forgot vanilla extract in my cookies, or when I set up a milkshake stand on the side of the road, selling watered down ice cream slush. Once I made homemade pudding with cinnamon and spices that tasted like lawnmower clippings. And so I am amazed every time when a dish is, well, good.

This dish is simple, easy, and once again, oven-free. I’m looking forward to the leftovers tremendously, particularly after the flavors of feta, tomatoes, basil and citrus saturate overnight.

Israeli Couscous and Chickpea Salad

Makes a lot

3 cups couscous

1/2 a basket of cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 medium cucumber, peeled, quartered

1 can cooked chickpeas

1 lemon, cut in half

1 lime, cut in half

extra-virgin olive oil

salt, to taste

ground pepper, to taste

1/3 cup basil, chopped

1/3 cup feta

 

Cook couscous according to package directions. Toss with tomatoes, cucumbers, and chickpeas in a bowl. Squeeze the lemon and lime into the bowl. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (I added more salt at the end, too.) Mix in chopped basil and feta.