Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tilapia in Bechamel over Wilted Spinach

I realize I only wrote about this bechamel sauce a few posts ago, but I haven't made it since August 19th! So here it is again, but this time over fish and spinach. I'm already thinking ahead to the next time I feel indulgent enough to make this. I might add a bit of brandy to the sauce and with that addition would use a cave-aged Gruyere in lieu of the Parmesan. Also, I'd serve the fish with green beans and a simple spinach, orange and avocado salad on the side as I felt the wilted spinach although good alongside, fought a little with the fish when eaten in the same bite. I'd also like to try decreasing the butter amount in the sauce next time...maybe by half.

Tilapia in Bechamel over Wilted Spinach:

~1 lb of Tilapia fillets, or other mild white fish (I had 2 fillets that totalled .90lb)
2 Tbs butter, Earth Balance, or canola oil
2 Tbs brown rice flour (or regular ap flour, or whole wheat pastry flour)
1 1/4 cups plain unsweetened soy milk (or regular milk)
salt and pepper to taste
a couple rasps of nutmeg
a couple shakes of garlic powder
toasted whole wheat bread crumbs
grated Parmesan, Cave-aged Gruyere, or other flavorful harder cheese
olive oil
cooking spray
a nice big pile of baby spinach
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
handful of pine nuts

Preheat oven to 400.
Combine cheese and bread crumbs in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat soy milk in a small sauce pan, taking care not to scald it.
While the milk is heating, add butter to another sauce pan and when foamy whisk in flour and cook it for ~2 minutes.
Add hot milk whisking to prevent lumps and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and garlic powder to taste.
Lightly coat a medium casserole dish with olive oil or canola spray.
Pour a small amount of the bechamel into the casserole so that there will be a thin layer of it under the fish.
Salt and pepper the fish filets, then lay them into the casserole in one layer.
Pour remaining bechamel over fish to cover it completely.
Add a touch of olive oil to cheesy crumb mixture, then sprinkle over fish.
Cover the casserole with foil and bake for ~18 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on your fillet sizes, so don't necessarily go by what worked for my 2 big fillets.

Remove fish from oven, uncover the casserole and turn on your oven's broiler raising the oven rack so that your casserole will be about 5" from the flame.
Broil til bubbly and toasty.

Now, I'd say cook the spinach while the fish is under the broiler, but there is no way I wouldn't end up forgetting about the fish and burning the topping. So, cook up the spinach whenever you feel comfortable that you have 4 minutes of uninterrupted time to do so...just do it as close to the time you'll be serving the fish as possible. Or, just make green beans like I plan on doing next time! :-)

Heat up a couple Tbs of olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Saute up the pine nuts and garlic until they just start to turn golden, then add spinach and a little salt and pepper. Cook until just wilted.

Serve fish atop a bed of the wilted spinach.

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