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Cornmeal-coated tilapia pairs well with ratatouille

MONDAY, DEC. 19, 2011

Freshly made ratatouille and juicy sauteed fish fillets make a quick dinner. Coating the fish with coarse cornmeal gives it a crispy crust without deep-frying. Cornmeal can be found in three grinds — coarse, medium or fine — and three colors, white, yellow or blue. White and yellow cornmeal can be found in most supermarkets.

I am often asked how to cook fish so that it doesn’t dry out. The general rule is to cook it 10 minutes for each inch of thickness, adjusting up or down as necessary — 5 minutes for a half-inch fillet. I prefer to cook the fish for 8 minutes. It will continue to cook in its own heat once removed from the stove.

Ratatouille is a popular dish in the Provence region of France. It is traditionally made by slowly simmering eggplant, zucchini, onion, garlic and tomatoes in olive oil. This quick version captures the Provencal flavors without the lengthy cooking.

Complete this Provencal meal with crusty, French bread warmed in the oven.

Crispy Fish

3/4 pound tilapia fillets

1/4 cup coarse cornmeal

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil

Wash fillet and pat dry with paper towel. Season cornmeal with salt and pepper to taste. Dip fillets into cornmeal, making sure both sides are well coated. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add fish and saute 4 minutes. Turn and saute 4 minutes for a 1-inch thick fillet. Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition per serving: 276 calories (25 percent from fat), 7.7 grams fat (2.0 grams saturated, 4.5 grams monounsaturated), 84 milligrams cholesterol, 35.6 grams protein, 15.7 grams carbohydrates, 0.8 grams fiber, 91 milligrams sodium.

Ratatouille (Sauteed Provencal Vegetables)

6 ounce eggplant, washed, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

6 ounces zucchini, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 cup sliced onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup tomato or pasta sauce

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine eggplant, zucchini, onion, garlic and tomato sauce to a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Lower heat and cover.

Simmer 15 minutes. Vegetables should be cooked through but still slightly firm. Stir in olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings.


• Any type of corn meal can be used.

• You can use cod, haddock, bass, mahi mahi or grouper in place of the tilapia. Choose whichever fish is freshest.

• Minced garlic can be found in the produce section of the market.

• Two crushed garlic cloves can be used instead.

Nutrition per serving: 152 calories (31 percent from fat), 5.2 grams fat (0.7 grams saturated, 3.4 grams monounsaturated), 0 milligrams cholesterol, 4.3 grams protein, 24.5 grams carbohydrates, 6.7 grams fiber, 27 milligrams sodium.

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