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Try mild-tasting tilapia for meatless Fridays

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By Susan M. Selasky
Sunday, April 1, 2012
 

If you've been observing meatless Fridays, and have fallen into a fish rut, go for super-simple. Fish is not finicky and really is effortless to cook. So many varieties are mild-tasting and need just simple seasonings and sides to give them a boost.

In addition, the American Heart Association and health experts recommend eating two servings of fish a week. Eating a variety of seafood is a key part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This recipe for broiled Tilapia With Avocado Salsa is just the ticket.

Tilapia is a mild-flavor fish that offers a decent amount of omega-3 fatty acids, though not as much as salmon, the omega-3 darling. But tilapia is a good choice for those who tend to shy away from fish. It's not too expensive, is widely available at seafood counters or in frozen-foods sections, and it's on the firm side, so it takes to all cooking methods.

The salsa takes just minutes to prepare and can be made in advance. It's versatile. You can turn it into a fruit salsa by adding diced pineapple, mango, or papaya or peaches.

Using diced sweet red bell pepper gives the salsa sweetness, color and crunch. One of my new favorite bell-pepper products is the bags of mini peppers available at many grocery stores.

The 8- or 16-ounce bags contain a mix of mini sweet red, yellow and orange bell peppers. Buy the larger bag, because it's cost-effective, usually about $5. The smaller bag is about $3.

I started seeing these mini peppers more often last year. They're perfect when one whole bell pepper is more than you need. They're the ideal snacking size, and they don't have as many seeds or large cores that have to be cut away.

Slice them into rings and use them in stir-fries or salads.

They are great to toss on the grill because they cook quickly, making for an easy side dish. You can thread them on skewers and grill them. Either way, just brush them with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper before grilling.

Tilapia With Avocado Salsa

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

You can substitute any firm white fish for tilapia.

For the salsa:

  • 2 medium-size avocados, halved, pitted, diced small
  • 34 cup finely diced sweet red bell pepper
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 12 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 14 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 teaspoon sugar

For the tilapia:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 tilapia fillets (about 4 to 6 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Favorite lemon-pepper or other citrus-type seasoning

To make the salsa : Heat the broiler. In a medium-size bowl, combine the avocados, red pepper, jalapeno, onion, cilantro and lemon juice. Season the salsa with salt, pepper and pinch of sugar to taste. Set aside.

To make the tilapia: Coat a rimmed baking sheet with the nonstick cooking spray or line with foil. Rinse the tilapia fillets and pat dry. Place the tilapia on the baking sheet and brush each fillet with a little oil. Season with the salt and lemon-pepper seasoning. Broil until the fish is opaque throughout, for about 8 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.

Top the fish with the salsa and serve with a side salad.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 30 calories, 16 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 70 milligrams cholesterol, 30 grams protein, 11 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams dietary fiber, 228 milligrams sodium

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