Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oven-Roasted Parmesan Tomatoes

I needed a veggie side to go with our parmesan tilapia dinner, and I had some extra tomatoes in the fridge, so these delicious little treats were born :)

They are roast-y on the outside and juicy on the inside. They have a delicious golden parmesan crust and a little sprinkle of basil adds a big complimentary punch of flavor. Absolutely beautiful.

Tomatoes are even better for you when they are cooked anyway! A lot of people are worried about losing nutrients when they cook their fruits and veggies, but tomatoes are actually more powerful for you when they are cooked. That's why it's commonly recommended to include red pasta sauce into your weekly menu rotation, or canned tomatoes, tomato soup, ...any form of cooked tomatoe... like these warm little roasted tomatoes! :)
One of the great nutritional components of tomatoes is 'lycopene', and it is lycopene that is activated when heated/processed/cooked. In fact, the lycopene in a tomato is roughly 4 times more bioavailable when it is cooked (i.e. pasta sauce) rather than when eaten raw (i.e. in a salad). Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant and is believed to possibly help prevent cancer -especially prostate cancer. It is found in several fruits and veggies (mostly red-orange colored ones) but is most well known in tomatoes since they contain such high levels of lycopene. Lycopene is also fat-soluble, which means the more olive oil you eat with it, the better it is absorbed into your body :)
So let's start oilin' and cookin' our tomatoes!...

Ingredient List:
  • Tomatoes (I used Romas, but I suppose you can use any firm ones that you like or that you already have on hand)
  • Olive Oil
  • Basil (I used crushed dried Basil, but you could use fresh as well)
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Black Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Slice the tomatoes into about 1 inch slices. (To use the ends, slice just a tiny tip off each end of the tomato to give them a footprint to stand on and the open slice on top; see picture below)

Line a baking sheet with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Lay the tomato slices on the olive oil, and drizzle the tops of the tomato slices with olive oil as well, and a good sprinkling of basil.

Now top each tomato slice with a hearty pinch of Parmesan, and a little dash of black pepper.

Roast the tomatoes at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes so that the tomatoes get roasty and heated through, and the cheese melts on top. Then finish them off under the broiler for just a few minutes to give the cheese a golden, bubbly crust on top.

They are so simple yet so divine! Look at that beautiful roasted skin, the warm juicy inside, and the bubbly basily cheese :)

I served mine alongside parmesan tilapia and creamy risotto:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Parmesan-Crusted Tilapia

Tilapia is a great fish if you're cooking for a mixed group; it is tender and flakey enough for fish-lovers, yet mild enough that non-fish-lovers definitely enjoy it too. Tilapia is a very mild white fish and doesn't taste 'fishy' at all. It is usually a great one for beginners. 

Parmesan cheese has a strong sharp flavor that is perfect for flavoring this mild filet of fish. The paprika and parsley are more for color and visual appeal than for flavor. Interestingly enough though, dried parsley is a surprising nutritious source of lycopene- the antioxidant most well known as one of the great health components of tomatoes. (Which reminds me that I also served these tasty filets with roasted tomatoes -another post where I discuss lycopene in more detail).

I accompanied this tilapia with creamy risotto and roasted tomatoes. If you have all your ingredients ready to go, you can make this entire meal in 30 minutes start to finish. We'll start with the fish...

Recipe (makes 4 tilapia filets):

  • Four 4 oz. Tilapia filets
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Parsley
  • a couple shakes of ground Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and drizzle a little olive oil on the foil so that it's ready for the fish.

Mix the parmesan, paprika, parsley, and pepper in a dish.

Gently pat the fish filets dry with a paper towel, and drizzle with some olive oil.

Sprinkle the parm-mixture evenly over each of the filets, gently pressing it into the olive oil on each side -especially on the top :)
Lay the filets on the olive-oiled-foil me, do not skip the olive oil here! Fish is tender and flakey and it would be terrible if your beautiful filets fell to pieces because they stuck to the foil while trying to get them off.

Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes or until the parmesan topping is golden and the fish is cooked through.

They are GORGEOUS, HEALTHY and DELICIOUS. And SO easy! Who knew!? 

That is a delicious crust on the fish, and see how beautifully the paprika colored it!
Just look at how wonderfully flakey it is! No mushy fish here :)

I served my tilapia filets with creamy risotto and roasted tomatoes. You can have this entire healthy, fancy meal on the table in just 30 minutes!