Thursday, April 28, 2011

Whole Wheat Penne with Tilapia, Arugula and Balsamic

I love sauces, dips, dressings and marinades.  They add the most exciting flavors to food but they can also make or break the nutritional value of a dish.  The dressing in this dish is one of my favorites not only because it's healthy and flavorful but because of its versatility.  I use it as a salad dressing to snazz up spinach or as a marinade on chicken, fish or shrimp.  I also love to use it as a sauce in a stir fry or in this case, a pasta.  It is sweet yet tangy and you can control the spice.  

I rarely measure anything when I cook (flaw) but below are my rough estimates.  You can modify based on your preferences and the size of the dish you are making.  The amounts given are appropriate to make this pasta dish.  I used an awesome aged balsamic vinegar that I have and it is sweeter and has a thicker texture.  You can use a regular balsamic but you might want to add additional honey.  Taste as you go.  This dish can be enjoyed hot or cold. Be sure to make a bit extra to drizzle on top of the pasta as you serve it!
Balsamic Dressing with Crushed Red Pepper and Scallion

3-4 tablespoons olive oil 
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 stalk scallion, chopped
What makes this bite better?
I am a huge fan of one dish wonders.  Whenever a dish has lean protein, fiber and veggies it's a hit in my book. In addition to the health benefits of fish and olive oil, arugula is a star in this dish.  Arugula is an amazing green because it's easy to add to hot and cold dishes.  It is actually in the brassica family making it a relative of kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage.  It is loaded with Vitamins A, C and K as well as calcium and other minerals. Eat it as often as you can, cooked or raw. 

 Whole Wheat Penne with Tilapia and Arugula
1 box whole wheat penne
1 pound tilapia filets
2 cups arugula
Dressing (above), divided
Scallion (optional)
Crushed red pepper (optional)
Salt to taste

Marinate the tilapia filets in the dressing, using about half the quantity of dressing.  In a large pot, bring water, olive oil and salt to a roaring boil and cook the pasta.  Heat a separate pan over medium.  Cook the tilapia filets until they are cooked through.  Gently break apart the filets into bite size pieces.  Add the additional sauce and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add a ladle full of water from the pasta to the pan to create more sauce.  Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.  Add the raw arugula and a drizzle of olive oil to the pasta and toss.  Add the fish and sauce and toss to coat well.  Finish with additional fresh scallion, crushed red pepper and additional dressing if desired.  Serve and enjoy :)

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