Quinoa Crusted Tilapia, Rainbow Chard, and the Stomach Flu

I started making this recipe last Saturday with the obvious intention of serving it for dinner. However, just as I was wrapping up the photoshoot for the rainbow chard, the stomach flu struck. It had already taken down 50% of the family, but for some reason, I thought I was safe (it’s called aspirational thinking).

So, here we are, a week later and I am just now coming around to the idea that I might want to eat again someday. And because I have a strong completion instinct, I’ll be trying to make it through this recipe review–again.

If you were one of those people who made a New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier, then this is a recipe for you. If you were one of those people who did not make a resolution to eat healthier, this recipe is also for you.

Plucked from the very last page of Greens + Grains by Molly Watson, it looked like the ideal use for the absurd amount of greens I came home from the Davis Farmer’s Market with.

Overall, this is an excellent cookbook, but I have to mention that Molly gets a little carried away with the detail she provides in her instructions. She can turn a very simple recipe into a 3-page affair, which is probably great if you have literally NEVER been in a kitchen before but if that is the case, you aren’t working from this cookbook anyway.

So, I have saved you a ton of time by replacing words with pictures. Here is the recipe:

1 cup quinoa
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 egg
Four 4-oz tilapia fillets
3 tbsp butter
1 shallot, minced
1 bunch rainbow chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 lemons, cut into wedges
Freshly ground pepper

First, rinse the quinoa and then simmer it for approximately 15 minutes. Then spread the cooked quinoa on a baking sheet to dry for one hour. Or, if you don’t have an hour to spend watching quinoa dry, you can dry it on the baking sheet in the oven set to its lowest temperature for about 20 minutes. Note: we are using red quinoa for kicks, but any quinoa will work.
While the quinoa is drying, wash and chop your rainbow chard. Keep the stems separate from the leaves because they have different cooking times.
Melt 1 tbsp of butter in your pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, chard stems, and a little salt. Note: I find any recipe that does not call for garlic highly suspect, so we added two cloves minced for good measure. Cook, stirring frequently until the stems soften, about 3 minutes. 
Beat 1 egg and 2 tablespoons of water together in a shallow dish. This will be the egg mixture used to bind your quinoa “breading” to the tilapia. Coat the fillets front and back.
Toss your coated fillets in the dried quinoa mixture to coat. Then set aside until they are ready for the frying pan. 
When you have sautéed the chard stems and shallot for 3-5 minutes, it is time to add the chard leaves. Toss them in and let them cook until wilted, approximately another 5 minutes. You can give them a few squirts of lemon and some salt along the way. 
Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the butter stops foaming, add the oil. Carefully, lay the fillets in the pan and cook, undisturbed, until the quinoa crisps and browns, 4 to 5 minutes. Gently flip the fillets and cook until the fish is cooked through and the second side is nicely browned, 4 to 5 minutes more. 
When the leaves are wilted and the fish is finished, you are ready to plate it. 
Here you go. 

For our first real meal post-stomach flu, it was good, but I might not select fish for that next time. This meal could also benefit from another grain as a side dish, say a rice pilaf or couscous. Or roasted baby potatoes would be good too now that I think about it.

Our shrunken stomachs limited how much we could eat so we have leftover tilapia. We’ll be having fish tacos for dinner tonight; I think our stomachs can handle it.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com.


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