Monday, July 27, 2009

Tilapia Puttanesca

Puttanesca sauce is a traditional Italian pasta sauce, usually served over spaghetti. The origins of the sauce are much debated, but puttanesca means "lady of the night," or prostitute to be more blunt. One story says that this was made by prostitutes between seeing "clients."

No matter the origin, it is delicious. I was actually a little nervous that it would be too salty and briny, as it has anchovies, capers, and kalamata olives. However, Joey and I both thought that it had a very mild taste. The only saltiness I got was when I bit into an olive. I left them halved and whole, and because of this, I think next time I would chop half of them to be better incorporated into the sauce. The recipe also did not call for anchovies, but I wanted it to be more authentic. I was actually pretty nervous to use them, since I didn't think I'd like them, but they really just kind of melted into the onions and olive oil, then imparted a nice mild but salty flavor to the rest of the sauce.

I served this over tilapia, which normally isn't my favorite fish, but 1. it was on sale, and 2. a milder fish would go better with the sauce. I would have otherwise made this with red snapper or halibut because in general I prefer them over tilapia. We ate this with Pamesan and herb cous cous, and it made for a nice and healthy dinner.

Tilapia Puttanesca
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, June 2009

  • 1 lb. fresh skinless tilapia filets
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 medium red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup anchovies packed in olive oil, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • splash red wine
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, half finely chopped, half left whole
  • 1 Tablespoon capers, drained
  • 2 Tablespoons coarsley chopped fresh Italian parsley
Pat fish dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet cook onion and anchovies in olive oil over medium heat, 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and add vinegar and wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. Stir in garlic, diced tomatoes, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes.

Add olives and capers to sauce. Top with tilapia filets. Return sauce to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, covered, 6-10 minutes or until fish flakes when tested with a fork. Removed fish. Simmer sauce, uncovered, 1-2 minutes more to thicken. To serve, spoon sauce over fish. Sprinkle with parsley.


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