Dinner at Home

Monday, February 3, 2014

Fish on Friday: Parmesan Crusted Tilapia and Arugula Salad

When I was a little Catholic boy growing up in the 1960s, fish on Friday was pretty much a given. For my mom, it was usually breaded cod, fried, a salad with oil and vinegar, and homemade mac and cheese. Hey, if we didn't eat this way, we'd go to Hell! I pity those poor fools burning down there now while the rest of us lapsed Catholics can munch away on meat on Friday with impunity.

When I cook, I often like to forge a connection to my past and these two recipes below do just that.

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
2 tilapia (or other white fish) filets
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (please grate it yourself! Parmigiano-Reggiano is a staple at my house)
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs (or make your own if you're inspired)
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried basil
i t garlic power
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Heat skillet over medium-high heat and add in a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Mix breadcrumbs and seasonings on a plate. Rinse filets, pat dry, and season with salt and pepper. Dip in egg then in seasoned panko crumbs, coating both sides. Immediately place in hot skillet (you should hear a sizzle). Cook for 3-4 minutes, flip, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Arugula, Blueberry, and Beecher Salad
Note: This is more of a technique, but the dressing below is one of my go-to salad dressings. I rarely buy store-bought dressings; this dressing is one example of why not. It's simple, fresh, and takes about a minute to make.

Everyday Dressing
In the bottom of a salad bowl, drizzle about a quarter cup of good quality olive oil, drop in 2-3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, add in 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic (I use my mincer, but you can certainly mince with a knife, just make sure it's very fine). Whisk until the ingredients emulsify or come together with no separation.

Top the dressing with a couple big handfuls of baby arugula (or greens of your choice). I work with handfuls, but I am guessing about three cups for this amount of dressing. Sprinkle on a handful of fresh blueberries and about a quarter cup of your favorite cheese, coarsely grated or use a vegetable peeler. I like Seattle's own Beecher's Flagship with this.

Mix it all up with tongs and serve as a side with the fish. Up to you if you want to add a starch.

Yes, yes, I know this is going out on Monday. I'm just giving you time to shop and plan for it!


  1. Rick, that sounds delightful. I'll give this a try but I may not be able to hold out until Friday. Thanks for sharing this recipe. BTW-I'm adding arugula to my organic salad garden this year.

  2. I love arugula! It's one of my favorite greens...or is it an herb?

  3. I remember fish Fridays. I had kids at school sure I was in for it if I had a bologna sandwich. I bet my girls would love this dish. They are all about fish and "leaves".