Tilapia is the beige of the fish world: inoffensive and ubiquitous. It doesn't stand a chance against, well, just about every other fish around, but it's also incredible cheap and fairly adaptable to whatever toppings you'd like to add to it. This explains why I spent far more time worrying about what would go with the fish than I did worrying about the fish itself.
I wanted something dramatic and flavorful, which led to the idea of coating the tilapia in crushed almonds. But I always cringe before starting a recipe where I have to make sure something adheres to fish. Regardless of how careful I am, half the time the coating falls off in the pan, burning the ingredients and leaving the fish exposed. And even when I do succeed, I've usually made a mess of the kitchen in the process.
Instead, I took the easy way out and sprinkled on almonds at the end. That way I could focus on making sure they were properly toasted, and not on whether they were sticking to the fish or burning in the pan. This also allowed me to mix in some briny green olives with the almonds, which added even more character to the dish.
I took the easy route with the green beans, too. They're simmered in boiling water until bright green, drained, and then immediately tossed in a tart Sherry vinaigrette. I liked the vinaigrette so much, I drizzled a bit of it over the whole finished dish.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:20 minutes
- 1 cup whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh juice from about 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, toast almonds in a large 12-inch stainless steal skillet over medium heat until light brown. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in sliced olives. Set aside.
Whisk together Sherry vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Wipe out skillet. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season fillets with salt and pepper and then add as many to the skillet as will fit in one layer. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Flip and brown on the other side, another 4 minutes. Repeat if necessary with remaining fillets.
Add green beans to boiling water and cook until bright green and tender, but still slightly crunchy, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain green beans in a colander and then toss with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Taste, and add more of the vinaigrette if necessary.
Serve fish with green beans. Sprinkle almond and olive mixture on top, and drizzle with a little extra of the vinaigrette.