Pan-Grilled Tilapia with Garlic Rainbow Chard

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I love greens! Spinach, kale, collard, mustard…but I had never tried chard before! So, I was super excited when a colleague brought in a couple of bags of “excess” produce that she had from her membership in the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). My “loot bag” included a large earthy turnip, a big bag of peppery arugula and a beautiful bunch of sweet rainbow chard! I must say, there is something about the rainbow chard…its deep green leaves with colorful veins and stems in purple, orange and green is definitely a thing of beauty!

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Driving home, I made a mental note of how I was going to use up all that beautiful, fresh produce! I decided on South Indian style mixed vegetable and lentil stew (sambar) with the turnip, thin crust pizza (I used a prebaked crust made of whole wheat and kamut flours) with pesto, mushrooms and arugula and…tilapia with rainbow chard sautéed in extra-virgin olive oil with a healthy doze of minced garlic!

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This tilapia/rainbow chard dinner is a snap to prepare. It requires very few ingredients and takes about the same time as watching a pot of water come to boil and cooking a box of pasta! Instead of a bowl of plain, cooked pasta in less than 20 minutes, you get a beautifully plated! I sort of missed the summer BBQ flavors and opted to go with that for this dish! The chard is super simple to make – just garlic, pinch of salt and bit of olive oil! I think the green is so delicate that anything beyond this simple combo might just overpower its natural flavor and taste!

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Isn’t everyone talking about the health benefits of eating fish! So, go for it! Grab yourself a few filets and whip up this dinner in a snap!

Pan-Grilled Tilapia with Garlic Rainbow Chard

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 20 minutes
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Ingredients
4 Tilapia filets, skin removed
1 tablespoon BBQ seasoning or other seasoning of your choice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch of rainbow chard, chopped up
3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

Preparation
1. Lay the tilapia filets on a large plate and coat both sides with the BBQ seasoning.
2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
3. Place the fish in the hot skillet and “grill” for 4-5 minutes on each side. The fish is done when you can flake it easily with a fork.
4. Wipe down the pan and return to heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the rainbow chard and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes.
5. Serve the fish immediately over a serving of sautéed chard for a simple, healthy and delicious meal!

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Light Alfredo Sauce

20140507_194948Who doesn’t love the creamy deliciousness of Alfredo sauce??!! Yeah, that’s what I thought…everyone does, right! So, you have had Fettucine Alfredo many a time! But how about a grilled chicken breast topped with a lightened Alfredo sauce with notes of garlic and citrus??? We are talking pure indulgence without wreaking havoc with your diet! So, if you are like me and have been on the quest to find a lighter version of this goodness, look no more. I think once you try this recipe, you will agree it’s a keeper.

So, anyway, as you guys already know, typical Alfredo sauce though is loaded with fat (anyone watching their calories out there?). So, Alfredo, like other rich, calorific sauces are usually reserved for extra special occasions, but what if I could enjoy it without any guilt more often than couple of times a year!!

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I do try to make quick white sauces with 1% milk thickened with a roux. Although they impart a slight creaminess, it is definitely not the same as the richer version. This recipe however might change that though once and for all. Little bit of lemon zest, a dollop of reduced fat cream cheese, generous helping of grated parmesan and lots (did I say lots?) of garlic in this sauce provide the satisfying creamy richness without your arteries swelling up with plaque.

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Drizzle it over grilled chicken just before serving and serve with a side of your favorite vegetable or salad. Trust me, you won’t even miss the bread or other carbs! It is satisfying and will leave you longing to make it again!

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Grilled Chicken Breasts with Light Alfredo Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 45minutes
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Ingredients
4 chicken breasts, cut to about 4-6 oz each
salt and pepper to taste
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
3 cloves of garlic, grated or minced finely
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups 1% milk
2 tablespoons reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/8 cup grated pecorino cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
optional – sautéed mushrooms

Preparation
1. Begin by preparing the chicken. Marinate the chicken in a marinade of lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper for about 15-20 minutes.
2. Preheat the grill or a sauté pan at medium high heat. Cook the chicken breasts for 12-14 minutes till juices run clear and meat is cooked through. Remove to a platter, loosely covered with a foil and set aside till you prepare the sauce.
3. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and sauté the lemon zest and garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the flour and continue to cook, stirring constantly for a minute or so.
4. Stir in the creamed cheese, followed by milk. Stir continuously to break up any lumps. Cook for about 5 minutes till the sauce starts to simmer and thicken up a little.
5. Slowly stir in the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for just about a minute or so till the sauce becomes evenly creamy and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped parsley.
6. Sauce will thicken further as it cools. Therefore, it is best to serve immediately. Spoon desired amount of sauce over the grilled chicken breasts alongside a serving of steamed or sautéed veggies.

NOTE: You will likely have leftover sauce. If so, store in the refrigerator for a day or so. You could thin the sauce by adding bit of milk or cooked pasta water. I mixed my leftover sauce with a tablespoon of homemade light pesto sauce and tossed with cooked pasta for a delicious and quick lunch. My family absolutely loved the leftover as much as their dinner.

Chicken thighs in lemon garlic sauce

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Chicken is so versatile, yet there are times when I simply am not sure what I want to do with it. That’s how this recipe came about! I had a package of chicken thighs and had less than an hour to get dinner on the table. What do I do with it?

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After bit of pondering, I remembered I had fresh lemons, garlic and parsley on hand. I imagined that to be a rather straightforward “Chopped” basket and quickly thought of a way to incorporate them into a dish that had some sauce/gravy to it. It’s almost like I was working backwards. I had a freshly baked bread from earlier in the day and I wanted something to go with the bread… 🙂

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This dish with a wonderful citrus and garlic notes with just the right amount of a light sauce was amazing with a slice of a crusty bread. Since I had incorporated some green beans right into the chicken dish, it really was a wholesome meal. I would certainly like to prepare it again, but this time cook in the oven. If any of you try this in the oven (I would say 375F for about 45minutes or so – check for doneness), do drop a note below to say how it turned out.

Chicken Thighs in Lemon-Garlic Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 50 min
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Ingredients
4 medium chicken thighs, bone-in, skin removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onions or shallots
1 cup water or chicken broth
1/2 lb fresh green beans, end trimmed
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon butter or heavy cream, optional

Preparation
1. Cut chicken thighs into 2-3 pieces and season with salt and pepper.
2. Slice half the lemon into thin slices.
3. Heat olive oil over medium heat and lightly caramelize the lemon slices. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
4. To the pan, add the chicken pieces and brown them on both sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
5. Add a teaspoon of additional oil if needed and sauté the onions and garlic till onion turns translucent and starts to turn golden.
6. Add back the chicken pieces and a cup of water or chicken broth, making sure to scrape off all bits from the pan.
7. Cover and let cook for 30 – 35 minutes till the chicken is cooked through.
8. Add the trimmed green beans, lemon slices and juice from remaining half lemon. Adjust salt and pepper and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in parsley.
9. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

NOTE: If sauce is too thin, remove chicken and vegetables to a serving platter and continue to cook the sauce with a tablespoon of butter and/or cream for a few additional minutes till it thickens a bit.

Whole wheat pasta in spinach and ricotta sauce

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! I really had all the intention to develop a complete St. Patrick’s Day dinner menu with a green color theme – including a mint, avocado or pistachio based dessert! But, alas, time just slipped by too fast!

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In an attempt to at least pull together a wholesome main entrée, I looked around my kitchen for appropriate ingredients. We enjoy pasta, so I decided to take the route of a pasta dish served with a pan grilled tilapia filet.

This recipe uses whole wheat pasta (pick any type you choose – spaghetti, rotini, penne….), frozen spinach, reduced fat ricotta, bit of garlic, sundried tomato, paremesan and white cheddar. For the meat/seafood component, you could go either with chicken, fish or shrimp to get the optimal flavor. I don’t think beef will be a good match for this pasta dish. Just my opinion! 🙂

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This pasta, as you can see from the picture, is very green! If green is not a favorite food color in your household, I would like to urge you to still give this a try. Spinach combined with garlic and ricotta results in such a delicate flavor, you will soon overlook the color. The color did not bother my family even a bit, and I must say, I will certainly prepare this dish again. I hope you will give this recipe a try and let me know your feedback.

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Whole wheat pasta in spinach and ricotta sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 40 min
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Ingredients
8 oz whole wheat pasta
8 oz frozen spinach
3 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1/4 cup (or slightly more) cooked pasta water
1 tablespoon olive oil plus additional tablespoon
1/4 cup thinly slivered sundried tomato
1/4 cup grated white cheddar or mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
1. Prepare pasta according to directions. Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of pasta water.
2. Thaw frozen spinach, squeezing out excess water.
3. Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and lightly brown the garlic.
4. Blend spinach, garlic, ricotta and reserved pasta water in a blender or food processor till smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Pour the spinach sauce over cooked pasta. Add white cheddar or mozzarella cheese and sundried tomato and toss to mix.
6. Transfer the pasta/sauce mixture to an oven-proof baking dish and sprinkle parmesan cheese over it. Drizzle about the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
7. Place the dish under the broiler set at medium high/high heat and broil for about 5-7 minutes till cheese is melted and top is lightly golden.
8. Serve immediately with grilled chicken or fish.