10 July 2012

Grilled Stone Fruit & Tilapia Salad

Have you ever grilled fruit?  If not, try it immediately.  They do this wonderful, saucy thing that can only be described as heavenly.  Think of the way a fresh blueberry bursts in a blueberry pancake...the way it explodes with intensified flavor and warm juicy goodness.  This effect carries over to peaches and cherries as well, which fall into the category of stone fruit (meaning they have pits).  

One of my favorite ways to serve grilled fruit is on a salad.  No need for dressing here, folks!  All that warm fruit juice translates into the healthiest, yummiest salad dressing you could ever hope for.  Step aside ranch, blue cheese and even vinaigrettes.  Just serve me up this tender, warm, juicy fruity topping and you will have a very, very happy lady.

I love, love, love this dish!

Well, since we've started with the fruit, let's finish discussing the top and work our way down.  Sprinkled over these decadent little morsels are Candied Cayenne Maple Walnuts.  Now this is an.....interesting recipe.  It's kind of ridiculous, but the result was so go I had to add it!  I'm working on a more efficient method and will update at a later date, but if you feel like trying this back-asswards recipe, you will be happy with the results.  You candy walnuts in maple syrup and cayenne pepper, adding a little kick to your typically candied nuts.  They're really, really good mixed into yogurt with granola according to the hubs.  So I apologize for the methodology, but not the flavor.

Moving down the salad, we come to the tilapia fillet.  I really prefer the texture of tilapia with this dish as opposed to a firmer meat such as chicken.  Since the fruit is so tender, it's really nice to have a flaky fish that just breaks apart with a fork.  The mild flavor of tilapia is wonderful as it really lets the fruit and marinade shine through.  And the marinade is where cayenne enters into the picture again, tying in with the slight spice to the nuts.  It mingles here with an apricot jam base, dried mustard and paprika for a great wet rub that I enjoy on its own.  It is subtle yet yummy and perfect in this dish.

Underneath the tilapia is the foundation of our salad, the greens.  Being a Kale Monster (the healthier cousin to Cookie Monster), we used kale for our base.  However, any other hearty green would work great as well, like swiss chard or curly spinach or bok choy.  Tender greens such as spinach get a little soggy when topped with the hot fish and fruit.  So whatever you prefer, go with a green that can take the heat....literally.

Man, that was a bad joke.  My dad would be proud of that one.

Grilled Tilapia Fruit Salad

  • 2 tilapia fillets
  • 2 tbs apricot jam
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 c kale or other hearty green
  • 2/3 c fresh cherries, pitted and halved 
  • 2/3 c peaches, thickly diced
  • 1/2 c Candied Cayenne Maple Walnuts (recipe below)
  • 1/4 c sliced red onion
Combine apricot jam, dried mustard, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt in a small bowl.  Mix together well.  Place fillets in a shallow glass baking dish or pie pan.  Rub each side of the fish generously with the apricot spread.  Cover and let marinade for 30-60 minutes.

Right before cooking, slice the cherries, peaches and onion.  You want your peaches to be about the same size as the cherries once they are diced.  Leave to the side on a cutting board - this is a fast meal to prepare!

Place a medium grill pan and a large skillet over medium high heat.  When hot, spray both with non-stick and add the greens.  Cook for about a minute, tossing occasionally, to soften slightly.  Remove to a bowl and set aside.  

As soon as you add the greens to the skillet, add the tilapia to the grill pan.  Cook for 2 minutes, then flip the fish and cook for another 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until opaque.  Remove to a plate to rest.

Once the greens have been removed from the skillet and fish has been started, spray skillet again with non-stick.  Add the halved cherries and turn so they are face down in the pan.  Cook for about a minute, then add diced peaches.  Cook for another 30-60 seconds until peaches are lightly grilled.  Transfer to a small bowl to stay warm.

To assemble salad, divide greens between two plates and sprinkle with sliced onions.  Lay tilapia fillet on top of each salad, then top with grilled fruit.  Sprinkle with candied walnuts and garnish with paprika, if desired (it looks pretty!)  Enjoy with a side of cheese and crackers.

Candied Cayenne Maple Walnuts

  • 1 c walnuts
  • 5 tbs maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Set a dry skillet over medium high heat.  When hot, add the walnuts and toss to distribute.  Then add the maple syrup, salt and cayenne.  Stir to combine.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until all maple syrup has caramelized and no moisture is left in the pan.  Remove to a baking sheet with tin foil and let cool slightly.

Turn your broiler onto high.  When heated, stick the baking sheets under the heat.  Cook, stirring every 20 seconds, until nuts are golden brown and fragrant.  Remove to a dish to cool.

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