When many Christians observe Lent, fish becomes a menu mainstay.
For an extremely mild-flavored fish, try tilapia — the nation’s fifth most-consumed fish, according to the National Fisheries Institute.
Tilapia is a forgiving fish. Its firm flesh means it takes well to grilling, broiling, baking and pan sautéing. And generally one tilapia fillet is a decent serving for most appetites.
Tilapia can be bland. So look to other ingredients to flavor the fish.
Today’s recipe pairs tilapia with fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, olives and capers.
Kalamata olives and capers are great pantry staples. Both have great salty/briny flavor, and a little of each goes a long way. Because of their saltiness, you can scale back on much of the salt in the recipe.
Kalamata olives are Greek black olives that are about 1 inch long and almond-shaped. Many are a deep purplish color. Typically, they are packed in brine and sometimes in olive oil.
Simple uses of kalamata olives include setting them out as an appetizer, processing them into a paste with olive oil and other ingredients to make tapenade, and roasting them with fish, chicken and even lamb. Kalamata olives are common fare at stores that have so-called Mediterranean olive bars. These olive bars typically have several varieties of olives, including green olives.
If you buy kalamatas with pits, it’s easy to remove them: Press a long chef’s knife along the back of the olive and smash it. The olive’s semi-soft flesh will split, revealing the pit.
When you buy olives from an olive bar, choose those that are already pitted — unless you’re going to set them out on an appetizer tray. It will save time and money because most olive bars charge by the pound whether the olives are pitted or not.
Capers are the flower bud of a bush indigenous to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. They are green and smaller than a petite pea.
Along with a salty taste, they have a hint of herbs. You will find them in small jars near the olives at most grocery stores. Capers are packed in salty brine, so they should be drained and rinsed before using, to get rid of some of the salt. Be sure to reserve the brine, pouring it back into the jar, to keep any remaining capers submerged. Once opened, capers should be stored in the refrigerator.