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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Orange and pepper baked fish with Picnic Green Bean Salad

Tonight is the perfect storm of reasons why I can't make dinner at dinnertime.  No outside play time due to inclement weather, early naptime and anticipated late spousal arrival equals too much juvenile energy without adult backup, and that means that not even the Wonder Pets will guarantee me 10 tantrum- and injury-free minutes to put dinner together at Hungry O'Clock.  So everything on the menu tonight was prepared at 8am this morning and will require almost no attention to complete at 6pm.

The fish can be prepped ahead and made into a freezer kit, while the beans are make-ahead but not freezer-friendly.  Whether you're prepping ahead for same-day or next-day cooking or freezing the fish, don't marinate fish until right before cooking.  The acid in the orange juice will turn it into ceviche (not a bad thing, but not what we're going for here) if left too long. 

The beans are best at room temperature, but I doubt I'll remember to get them out of the fridge with enough time to warm up that far.  You basically want to make sure the vinaigrette has a chance to unsolidify as it will harden up when refrigerated.  This is a great dish to make for a picnic or pitch-in because it benefits from a day of melding with no last-minute cooking/assembling and it doesn't need to be kept at dairy-based food safety temperatures. 

My last thought is on preserved lemons.  I adore lemons, and used to make preserved lemons pretty regularly.  If you make/have them, this is a delicious salad to put them in.  Chop up a piece of the rind and discard the flesh. 

Orange and pepper baked fish
Serves 3-4

1 lb. tilapia
2 tbsp olive oil
1 orange, zested and juiced
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
Combine oil, orange zest, juice and lemon pepper.  Freeze in a ziptop bag or set aside until ready to cook.  If freezing, put fish and marinade bag in another bag and label.

Freezer Kit-ready

When ready to cook, thaw all ingredients if necessary.  Put fish a bowl and cover with marinade while oven preheats.  Prehat oven to 350F.  Drain excess marinade from fish and discard.  Bake fish for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through.

Picnic Green Bean Salad
Serves 4-8, depending on additions

1 lb. mixed green and yellow beans, trimmed
1/4 cup vinaigrette (homemade or store-bought, any type)
1 tsp fresh tarragon (optional)
Optional add-ins:  1/2 cup sliced black olives, 1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers, 1/4 cup chopped chives, 1 can chickpeas or cannellini beans (drained), 1/4 cup chopped preserved lemon

Boil beans for 20 minutes.  Drain and toss with vinaigrette and tarragon while still hot.  Stir in any additions and put in the fridge for at least several hours.  Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving. Pin It

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