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Warm Beet Salad with Tilapia Filet (inspired by Jamie Oliver)

A mashup of two recipes is a spring supper with color and style.
A mashup of two recipes is a spring supper with color and style.
all photos by Faith Bowman

A trip to the supermarket can be a routine chore, or it can be viewed as an opportunity to try the new and unfamiliar. A random decision to throw a packet of baby beets in the cart can result in a delicious, healthy, and sophisticated dinner.

Leafing through Jamie Oliver's excellent cookbook Food Escapes yielded a recipe that could be adapted to what was on hand. A tilapia filet took the place of pike perch and the portions were reduced to feed one person. A quick look through The Paley's Place Cookbook revealed another beet recipe that could be combined with the Oliver version. Once the spice and ingredient choices were confirmed (by looking in the fridge and cabinet) it was time to set up and get cooking.

The beet salad morphed into a colorful mixture of 1/2 a yellow pepper, one large carrot, a tablespoon of persillade (a mixture of garlic and parsley), and the baby beets. Chop the pepper and carrots into small pieces, then mix in the pesillade and beets. Sprinkle with coarse salt and drizzle with olive oil. Put into a small, shallow oven safe dish and bake at 350 for about an hour. When the beets and carrots are soft, remove from the oven and let cool. Do a swift chop to reduce the size of the beets, then put the mixture in a bowl and toss with a tablespoonful of red wine vinegar. Set aside.

Prep the tilapia filet by making small incisions in the flesh and then rubbing with a mixture of olive oil and herbs. Suggested herbs are dill, caraway seeds, tarragon, and parsley. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then pop into a hot pan for 3 to 4 minutes, until the fish is white and flaky. Remove the fish to a plate, and then add some greens to the hot pan. Reserve the pan juices for plating.

You can use the recommended spinach, or try kale, mustard greens, or even arugula. Sprinkle the greens with salt and saute until just wilted. Dot with butter and squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon into the pan. Toss and remove from heat. Create a topping for the dish with 1/4 cup of sour cream mixed with a tablespoon of cream style horseradish. Get ready to plate the dish by lining up the bowls of ingredients and topping on your counter.

On a dinner plate, spoon a helping of the beet/pepper/carrot salad. Place a portion of the greens on top of this. Put a little of the sour cream horseradish sauce on the greens, and then cover with the tilapia filet. Pour some of the reserved pan juices from the fish, then a dollop of the sour cream and horseradish sauce. Sit down at the table and enjoy slowly with a glass of white wine or a good crisp hard cider.