Spiced Tilapia on Parmesan Smashed Green Peas

 

I’m in the middle of moving.  My apartment is a mess – there are boxes everywhere.  Some are full and sitting nicely by the front door, waiting for me to pack them in the car and drive them to the new house; some are empty, stacked half-haphazardly against the back of the sofa; some are half full of items that I haven’t used in the past year, waiting for the Goodwill trip.

Moving, and packing, is such a stressful event – but also a wonderfully exhilarating one, wherein you can reevaluate your life and what’s important to you.

It’s also a really great way to get rid of junk things other people can use.

 

 

I’ve been telling myself for months now that it was time to go through everything and reevaluate.

Do I really need this mini food processor I bought in 2006, but never use?

Do I need two sets of pots and pans?  Two sets of kitchen knives?  Two TVs when I barely use one?

Before I left for the Peace Corps I was a bit of a pack rat.  I had this philosophy that while I may not need it now, there was probably a point in time where I would use this random item, and thus must store it.  When I was packing up my studio in Kansas City in preparation to leave, I got rid of a lot of things, and that was nice.  I haven’t missed them and I probably never will.  I can’t remember ever thinking, “Gosh, it’s super lucky that I saved this fishbowl after I killed off yet another fish five years ago since they’ve stopped making fishbowls anymore and I must have the last remaining fish bowl on Earth!”  Yeah.  That doesn’t happen.

 

 

And then I came back and started “collecting” again.  Truly, I’ve been better.  I’ve stopped myself many times before picking something up and have taken a few boxes these last couple of years to local thrift stores.  But I’ve managed to collect quite a few things I don’t really need.

 

So it’s nice to be able to once again purge.  To realize that I don’t need all this stuff.

 

Really, it’s only things.

 

 

And so I’ve been trying to really pack only the necessities.  Only the things that I can’t live without, or that I will truly, honestly use in the next year.  And probably about one quarter of the stuff I’ve packed has gone to local charities, to the people who really do honestly need things.  I’m lucky in my life.  While I don’t make a lot of money, I have decent things.  I’ve never gone hungry.  I always have good clothes to wear and a car to drive me places.

 

And it’s just stuff.  If I haven’t used it this year, I’m probably never going to use it.  And so it goes to people who really need these things.

 

So just a quick dinner – spiced tilapia that cooks up in less than 10 minutes and smashed parmesan green peas (because everything is better with parmesan).  And then I’ll add one more box to the charity pile.

 

 

Spiced Tilapia on Parmesan Smashed Green Peas
Serves 1-2 (pictured as one serving)

1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon chili powder (or more depending on your tastes – I’m kind of a wimp, so I go light)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tilapia filets
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup frozen green peas
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Begin by mixing together the cumin, ground black pepper, salt, chili powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Rub both sides of the tilapia with the spice mix.  In a large saute pan, melt 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter with 2 Tablespoons olive oil.  Saute the spiced tilapia on medium-high until cooked through and crispy on both sides, turning once.

Meanwhile, place the frozen green peas in a small microwavable bowl with 1/4 cup water.  Microwave 3-4  minutes, or until the peas are easily smashable.  If you have fresh peas, these would be preferred.  Never use canned peas.

Drain the peas and add 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter and the freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Mix well.  Using a potato masher (the kind with the holes, not the wavy one) or a fork, smash the peas until each pea is broken.  These aren’t “mashed” like potatoes, just broken up.

Arrange 1/2 of the smashed pea mixture on a plate and drizzle with fresh lemon juice.  Place one tilapia filet on top and squeeze more lemon juice on top.  Grate more parmesan over the entire dish, approximately 1 Tablespoon.  Serve immediately.

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