Monday, 16 May 2011

TILAPIA WITH WATERCRESS PESTO

I was out all afternoon yesterday, in my alter ego as a keen concert-goer and reviewer for Bachtrack.com, hearing grand old man of piano, Charles Rosen, playing Chopin. When I got home, I wanted something quick and easy for supper, because I had to file my review and do the usual Sunday night reality tasks.....

Despite having had a large delivery of food from Ocado the day before, when I opened the over-stuffed fridge I felt entirely lacking in inspiration. It's funny, but I am often more creative when there is very little in the fridge, or when my son and I play "freezer roulette" (the rules are simple: open the freezer and the first thing you take out must be a constituent part of a meal). There was half a bag of watercress in the vegetable drawer: another day in there and it would be past its best. Ditto that bag of baby spinach.....

A quick trawl of Google threw up a couple of interesting recipes for tilapia (a firm-fleshed fish, not unlike cod in texture and flavour), including one with a Thai-inspired sauce. Nearly all required the fish to be dusted in flour and pan-fried. Simple and quick. I made the pesto first. I love watercress and its bright peppery flavour. I was surprised at how delicious the pesto was, more so than the trad basil version which can sometimes be rather too pungent. The watercress version was fresh and vibrant, and a squeeze of lemon added a nice piquancy. I wilted the spinach in the microwave, because I am not above a bit of 'kitchen cheating', and then wilted it some more in the wok with some sliced garlic, olive oil and lemon juice (a Moro recipe). The fish, duly dusted in cornflour, was fried in olive oil. As you can see from the picture, I did a 'cheffy thing' with the fish fillets, neatly balancing them on the bed of wilted spinach and topping the whole thing off with a generous dollop of bright green watercress pesto. I enjoyed it so much, I bought two more bags of watercress, reduced in M&S at lunchtime today, to make more pesto this evening. It goes well with fish (it would be lovely with salmon, a natural partner), but I would also serve it with chicken. It's also extremely delicious, eaten off a spoon, straight out of the bowl of the Magnimax, Nigella-stylie.

Watercress pesto

50g watercress, any woody stalks removed
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 fat garlic clove, peeled
Approx 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
Juice of half a lemon
3 tbsp olive oil

Whizz all the ingredients together in food-processor.

You can read my review of the concert here

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