It’s Lent again and though I am devout to no particular religion, my Catholic upbringing has indoctrinated me into giving up something for Lent each year. The thought as a child was to give up something I really liked, such as candy to show God and Jesus that I loved them. It was also supposed to show me that I could be like Jesus and sacrifice. However my giving up candy in no way could compare to giving up one’s life to save the people. Even as a child I knew this was a bit farcical.
Yet today I go back to the old ways and though I did not get smudged on the forehead on Wednesday, I did give up drinking for Lent. Drinking wine, cocktails and beer is something I like to do. But with the current literature I have been reading, I felt it would show my will to be good to myself while at the same time sacrificing something I liked. Yes, this is a selfish act, I don’t try to hide that or be holier than thou, I just felt it was time to focus and to put down the bottle.
However, I am already planning an afternoon of Mimosas on Easter Sunday and possibly some wine with dinner, but that is 40 days away.
Another old habit with this pre-Easter time is not eating meat on Friday. Growing up this meant that one would eat fish since only weirdos would go completely without animal protein at a meal. It is with this mentality that I told Paul about the non-meat Fridays and he was fine with it since we could do things like bean burritos(his favorite). “No, I mean that I am supposed to eat fish on Friday.” I said, almost hoping for his withdrawal. He doesn’t give up so easily. “But you don’t have to eat fish (a food crime in his book), you just can’t eat meat? Right?” “I suppose.” I answered feeling squashed.
This was all for nothing since I have decided to spend some time alone this Friday. And since I am alone, I can have fish. But other than canned tuna, what can I get for my budget that is seafood and good. I decided on some tilapia which is still a good price and since I was putting it in sauce, the fact that it had been frozen didn’t really matter. It had to be something rich to not hide the flavor, but to showcase another region where the flaky wonder of the meat would pop along with the veggies basking in its glory.
Here’s what I came up with – Sicilian Fish
Sicilian because I saw a similar recipe on a TV show and because it incorporates the simple flavors of the island, namely tomatoes and olives with the abundant seafood they are privy to.
A filet of fish per person (I had tilapia, but you can use grouper, snapper or any white fish)
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes (for 4 filets) drained
2 cloves garlic
½ chopped onion
A celery stalk
½ tsp to 1tsp Paprika
Dash Cayenne Pepper
Handful Spanish Olives – sliced
Olive oil, salt and pepper
Saute the onion, celery and garlic in olive oil and when they are soft and translucent add in the paprika, cayenne and olives. Cook for about a minute to get the flavors to build. Add in the tomatoes and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, then taste for seasoning.
Meanwhile boil your favorite pasta – I used whole wheat thin spaghetti.
Season the fish with salt and pepper. Make a space in the middle of the tomato pan, add some oil and sauté the fish for about 3 minutes or until it looks white and flaky on the bottom. Then turn it over and brown the other side while coating the top with the tomato mixture to finish the cooking.
Drain the pasta and add a touch of oil, along with pepper. I then grated some cheese into the pasta. Normally, I would use parmesan, but I had some hard cheese from Greece in the freezer that I used instead since it had that salty/nutty quality.
Note: I save the juice from the drained tomatoes in a little plastic dish with a cover. I then freeze it and add to it as the week or two goes on. You can use this for other sauces or add some cayenne, lime juice and ice, plus some vodka and make a bloody Mary, but that will have to wait for a few more weeks. See nothing goes to waste.
Plate the pasta and top with filet and sauce. Dash it again with cheese and it is delightful.
Next Friday we’ll be a twosome again so I guess it will be vegetarian all the way.