I try to make fish for dinner about once a week, both for health reasons and because we all like it. Calvin hasn’t branched out beyond homemade breaded filets, but Rich and I like a variety. One of our favorites is blackened fish served on top of a salad. It isn’t a typical hearty winter dish, but I can’t go from November to March without eating the occasional salad.
We used to get this at a restaurant close to Rich’s parents’ place in Florida, until they raised the prices and reduced the serving size. I am all for splurging on vacation, but the prices had reached ridiculous levels. I figured we could blacken our own fish, and probably use a lot less oil, for a fraction of the price we were paying.
If you look at a lot of recipes for blackened fish, this one doesn’t necessarily qualify as blackened – which involves dipping the fish in butter and then cooking it in a searing hot skillet. While that much butter sounds really tasty, I prefer to keep my fish on the healthier side and get my butter ration in desserts. My method is really a fish filet cooked with Cajun seasonings, but that doesn’t exactly make a jazzy title. And it tastes as good as many blackened fish dishes I have eaten in restaurants.
Use whatever salad dressing you prefer on the greens. Rich likes Caesar and I prefer a heavy drizzle of good balsamic vinegar and a tiny bit of olive oil. You can also add whatever add-ins you want to your salad. The one in the picture has tomatoes and dried cranberries. We usually add shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano and I pile on carrots, celery and whatever other raw vegetables we have in the fridge.
Blackened Fish Filets on a Bed of Greens
From The Cook’s Life
You can use your favorite Cajun spice mix if you don’t want to make your own.
4 tilapia (or other white fish) filets
4 teaspoons olive oil
4 teaspoons Cajun spice mix, approximately (recipe below)
Salad greens (not iceberg, please)
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Other assorted vegetables
Dressing of choice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place fish filets in a greased casserole dish or pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle each filet with about a teaspoon of olive oil. Sprinkle each filet with about a teaspoon of spice mix, making a heavy layer of spices.
Bake fish for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and slightly crispy on the edges. While fish bakes, arrange salad greens on individual dinner plates. Top with tomatoes, dried cranberries, cheese and desired vegetables.
When fish is done, top each plate with a filet and drizzle with salad dressing. Serve immediately.
Cajun Spice Mix:
4 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed slightly with your fingers
½ teaspoon salt, or less (to taste)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or less (½ teaspoon makes it pretty spicy)
Mix spices together in a small bowl or jar. You will have spice mix left over. Use on fish, chicken or pork. Store in a tightly closed container at room temperature for several months.