Tag Archives: baked

Simple Baked Tilapia, Asparagus and Potatoes

21 May

Today’s recipe is very simple, the kind of food that I crave when I crave a home-cooked meal.  There’s something about eating out at restaurants that gets tiring.  It’s fun to try new things, but constantly eating rich and fancy and indulgent meals gets old quickly for me.  Sometimes I just want something simple.  And somehow this meal satisfies my craving for a simple, square meal.

So here’s the disclaimer: this isn’t anything wild and crazy and innovative, it’s just simple and satisfying and good (and healthy).  This is the sort of thing we eat on weeknights when we’re not feeling adventurous, so feel free just to use this as inspiration, rather than a hard-and-fast recipe.

I tend to use a lot of tilapia when I cook fish, mainly because I usually buy a big bag of the individually wrapped frozen fillets and keep them in the freezer for a quick and easy weeknight meal.  But feel free to substitute any other white fish you like (or even salmon) – you will just need to adjust the baking time depending on the thickness of the fish.


Simple Baked Tilapia with Asparagus and Baby Potatoes

Yield: 2 servings; Time: 15 min. active, 15 min. inactive

  • 1 bundle asparagus, ends trimmed off
  • 3/4 lb. baby potatoes
  • 2 tilapia filets (or other white fish)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried (or 1 teaspoon fresh) thyme
  • Fresh basil (optional)
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a pot and fill with enough water to cover, plus a teaspoon or two of salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for ~7  minutes, depending on size.  The goal is to par-boil them, not cook them all the way (and then finish the cooking in the oven).

Coat a baking dish with a layer of olive oil or cooking spray.  Place the tilapia filets in the dish and season with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, lemon juice, half the garlic and half the lemon zest (I seasoned one side and then flipped them over a few times to make sure they were well coated).

Remove half-cooked potatoes from the boiling water, allow to cool briefly, then cut into halves or quarters.  Toss potatoes and asparagus with a tablespoon or so of olive oil (just enough to coat), salt, pepper and remainder of minced garlic and lemon zest.  Place on a baking sheet.

Place the tilapia and potatoes/asparagus in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes (the fish will take 15-17 min depending on the thickness – it’s done when it flakes easily with a fork and is opaque all the way through; the potatoes/asparagus will take 13-15 minutes).

Serve immediately with fresh basil and/or diced tomato.  Make sure to pour any lemony liquid from the fish baking dish over top!


Not-from-a-box Potato Gratin Dauphinois

13 Dec

If the only potatoes au gratin you have ever had have come from a red box….that is a problem.  Making homemade potatoes au gratin (aka potato gratin, gratin Dauphinois, scalloped potatoes, etc.) has a very large payoff-to-effort ratio.  In English, that means that it’s pretty simple to make, but the results look and taste very impressive! 

Potato Gratin Dauphinois (a fancy name for thinly sliced potatoes baked with garlicky cream)

Serves: 4 to 6; Total Time: ~ 1 hour (20 min active, 40 min baking)

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 large or 6 medium potatoes, washed and peeled
  • 1.5 cups half and half
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed (not minced)
  • Salt and white pepper to taste (if you don’t have white pepper, just use black – the only reason for white is if you want to keep it fancy and free of black pepper specks)
  • Fresh grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese (Gruyère would be ideal)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Butter a baking dish (I used these – one 1.25 quart plus one 16 ounce baker, but you can do this in any size pan – one large gratin in a 9×13 pan or a 9×9 square or individual ramekins!   Just adjust the baking time accordingly with the thickness of your resulting gratin).  Drizzle a little half and half in each dish to coat the bottom.

Place the remaining half and half, 2 T. of butter, garlic cloves, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a small sauce pan and heat until just beginning to simmer; reduce the heat to very low.  Keep it warm (getting all that garlic flavor out of the cloves) until ready to assemble the gratins (once you are ready, remove the garlic).

Meanwhile, slice the potatoes very thinly.  I used my food processor with slicing disk attachment, but it would have been just as good (if not better) to do this by hand – aim for about 1/8 or 1/16 of an inch thick.  If you have a mandolin, by golly use that.  I wish I had one.

Arrange a thin layer of potatoes in the bottom of the dish, followed by a sprinkle of cheese, and some hot cream. 

Repeat the layering – with more potatoes, more cheese, and more cream – until you have about 3-4 total layers.  Finish with cream (it should come up just to the top layer of the potatoes), sprinkle with a little more Swiss and with Parmigiano, and dot the top with remaining 2 T. butter (this will help the tops turn golden brown).

Bake, uncovered, for 30-50 minutes – depending on the thickness of the potatoes, thickness of the whole gratin and size of the dish.  Check doneness with a fork- you want the potatoes tender (no crunch!), but also not mushy.

Drool, eat, repeat.