Salsa Red Snapper with White Beans & Gremolata Topping

Not shown: green pepper

Last night I invited Mom to join me for dinner.  I surprised her by making a recipe she’d discovered a few years back.  It’s a showy dish that’s perfect for easy entertaining and chock full of flavor.  Loaded with healthy ingredients, this is only 4 1/2 Weight Watchers points per serving. I sent Mom home with a to-go box and have an ample serving left for myself.  (If you can’t find red snapper, tilapia may be substituted). I tweaked the original recipe ever so slightly, using only one can of beans, a bit more salsa and made more gremolata because it’s that topping that makes this dish over- the-top delicious.  If you have gremolata left it would be great with chicken, salmon or even tossed in with pasta, couscous or rice!

Salsa Red Snapper with White Beans & Gremolata Topping             serves 4

4 1/2 Weight Watchers points per serving

  • 18 oz salsa
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained
  • 1 small green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 lb red snapper
  • 1/4 c green onions

Gremolata topping:

  • 1/2 c chopped flat leaf parsley
  •  1 1/2 t orange zest
  • 1 1/2 t lime zest
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine 12 oz of the salsa with the beans and green pepper and place in a casserole dish.

          

Cut the red snapper into several servings and place over the salsa mixture.


Top the fish with the remaining 6 oz of salsa, followed by the green onions. Cover the casserole dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Mix together the ingredients for the gremolata and set aside.


Remove the casserole from oven and allow to rest uncovered for five minutes before serving.  Top each serving with gremolata and prepare to fall in love with this flavorful, healthy dish.

I served this with roasted garlic crostini, a fresh spinach salad with dijon vinaigrette with a lovely bottle of wine and lemon bars for dessert.

fullsizerender-844         fullsizerender-843

Shrimp Stir-Fry

img_8930

Shrimp Stir-Fry   serves 2  Weight Watchers Smart Points 5 

  • 24 cooked shrimp
  • Veggies for stir fry: carrots, celery, sweet white onion, shitake mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli
  • 2 t peanut oil

Additional flavor elements: Grated fresh ginger, 2-3 garlic cloves minced, green onion – minced, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, juice from one half lemon, chopped flat leaf parsley, baby arugula and red pepper flakes to taste.

Stir-fry the veggies, adding the shrimp, arugula and parsley at the very end. Top with 1 oz chopped cashews when serving.

Grilled Zucchini & Summer Squash with Goat Cheese

With the bounty of fresh produce from farmer’s markets and gardens, veggies are plentiful this summer. Recently, using a summer squash, zucchini and some imagination, I came up with this recipe and may I say – it was fabulous. The combination of fresh herbs, grilled squash, sweet sautéed onion, creamy goat cheese and a burst of fresh lemon make this a new favorite for Spence and I.

Grilled Zucchini & Summer Squash with Goat Cheese

Weight Watchers Smart Points 3*

  • Zucchini
  • Summer Squash
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Seasoning (I love Melting Pot’s Garlic & Wine Seasoning)
  • Coconut Oil

Step One: Slice the squash into 1/2-inch “planks” (on the diagonal). Lay the planks on a paper towel, season with salt, pepper and garlic seasoning on one side. Brush a grill pan generously with coconut oil and bring to a searing heat. Place the planks on the grill pan, flipping only one time after 2-3 minutes (you’ll see grill marks). Allow another 2-3 minutes of grill time, remove and place the planks into a baking dish in a single layer.

  • Diced Sweet Onion
  • Butter

Step Two: Saute the onion in butter on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Top the squash with the onions.

  • Fresh Herbs: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme & Chives – chopped together
  • Goat Cheese
  • Lemon Wedge
  • Red Pepper Flakes

Just before baking.....
Just before baking…..

Step 3: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Top the squash with chopped herbs, followed by crumbled goat cheese. Squeeze fresh lemon over the top. Bake for 10 minutes – just to soften the goat cheese. Top with red pepper flakes and serve.

Note from Spence’s Girl: I purposely left the recipe without quantities as you can adjust based on how many servings you’d like. If you don’t have access to these exact herbs, use what you have – basil, oregano, tarragon – have fun with it. While not vegan, this would be a lovely vegetarian entree.  

* To calculate the Weight Watchers Smart Points, I used 1 oz of goat cheese and 1/2 tablespoon of butter, based on 2 servings.

Ambrosia Apple, Goat Cheese & Toasted Walnut Salad

 On a recent balmy summer evening, I made this salad for friends and family. I’ve adapted it to a single serving to calculate Weight Watchers Smart Points.

Ambrosia Apple, Goat Cheese & Toasted Walnut Salad

Single serving               Weight Watchers Smart Points 6 (before dressing)

  • Baby Spinach
  • Chopped Radicchio
  • Ambrosia Apple slices
  • 8 – Toasted Walnut Halves, chopped
  • 1 oz Goat Cheese – crumbled
  • Thin-sliced Red Onion
  • Sliced Hearts of Palm

On the side, I made a dressing of extra virgin olive oil and red apple balsamic vinegar and drizzled it over the top.

It’s an easy, delicious, refreshing summer salad on the side or as a meat-free entree on a hot night.

Ceviche

IMG_5394

Two of my passions are travel and food.  I’m always intrigued by the cuisine of the country or region I’m visiting and love to discover those spots that the locals frequent.

Spence discovered Costa Rica twenty years ago. Retired, he decided to escape Michigan, spending winters there instead. Still working, I’d take two weeks of vacation to visit him.  That first year, he’d gotten the lay of the land and sought out a local haunt and a dish we’d never heard of….ceviche. Knowing me as well as he does, he didn’t need to run it by me – I love all food.  Knowing him as well as I do, I trusted I was in for a treat.

From the house he’d rented in a little barrio near Quepos, we walked a mile into town.  Inside a small, congested bus station, we wound our way through the locals and vendor stands until Spence motioned me towards the tiny Ceviche stand where we deftly snagged two of the five stools.

“Dos Ceviche con Camarones, por favor” Spence expertly articulated to the woman behind the counter. I perused the short menu on the wall, still unaware what ceviche was but with my limited Spanish, knew shrimp were involved while other varieties featured fish, calamari or octopus.

As we waited, the husband handed us tiny napkins, forks and a couple of 8 packs of saltine crackers, setting a bottle of hot sauce between us.  The ceviche arrived, in an oval, pyrex-type vessel, vibrant and appealing.  Served very cold, it was not only refreshing but incredibly delicious – the tang of citrus, the crunch of the veggies, the sweetness of the tender shrimp.  I was over the moon.  Spence simply smiled, having anticipated my enthusiastic reaction.

In the years that followed, we made many trips to this area and specifically to that bus station.  Having sampled ceviche in countless places, all with more ambiance (and higher prices), I can say without question, none were better than what we found at the bus station.

After much research, here is my recipe which tastes as close to my memory of that Ceviche.

CEVICHE 

serves 8-12        Weight Watchers Smart Points  1 point per 1 cup serving

  • 1 lb fresh, uncooked shrimp
  • 1 c lime juice
  • 1 c medium red onion – finely diced
  • 2 c medium tomatoes-diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper – seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 c green bell pepper -diced
  • 2-3 T chopped cilantro (more or less to taste)
  • 3 T fresh orange juice
  • 1 t salt

IMG_5386

Peel and clean the shrimp, removing the tails. Chop the raw shrimp into small pieces. Add the finely minced jalapeño, remove the seeds and ribs if you wish to keep the heat in check.

IMG_5387

Add the green pepper and red onion next.

IMG_5388

Juice your limes and pour over these ingredients.

IMG_5389

Now add the tomatoes, orange juice, cilantro and salt. Stir and refrigerate for four hours (stirring periodically to insure that the citrus “cooks” the shrimp evenly.

Ready to
Ready to “cook”

Ready to serve, notice the shrimp are now white and opaque.
Ready to serve, notice the shrimp are now white and opaque.

Serve and enjoy!

IMG_5394

Chef’s Notes:  You can substitute the shrimp with grouper or sea bass, just cut it into uniform small pieces.  Substitute a sweet white onion for the red.  I’ve seen recipes that add cucumber and/or celery diced as well as avocado and if fresh tomatoes are in season, you could add more. While I’ve served this as an appetizer to guests, Spence and I find it a refreshing, chilled entree on a hot night. 

 

Olive Tapenade (for Bruschetta)

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes for appetizers. I had this years ago in a restaurant and it was so tasty I wrote down everything I could identify and have made it ever since.  I’ve even had numerous guests who at first said “oh I don’t care for olives” but trusting enough in my culinary skills to try it and viola! Everyone loves it – not a crumb left at the end of the party.  And this is actually better if you make it ahead – 24 hours minimum or even better a few days.  I serve this atop little slices of baguette, first drizzling a bit of extra virgin olive oil on the slices, giving them a few minutes in a 350 degree oven, then adding a spoon of the tapenade on each slice, then back for 5-10 minutes. I’m making this today for a party on Saturday so thought I’d share it with my followers.

Olive Tapenade 

Weight Watchers Smart Points 1 (serving size 1/2 tablespoon)

  • 1 5.75 oz jar green olives with pimento
  • 1 6 oz can black olives (any size)
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1 T oregano
  • 1 t coarse black pepper
  • 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil

Finely chop both kinds of olives and garlic cloves.  I use a hand-chopper (Pampered Chef) to achieve a very fine texture.  Stir olives and garlic together.  Add oregano and black pepper to olive mix, stir to blend.  Add the olive oil and give a final stir.  Place in a covered container to refrigerate for 24 hours or longer.

Note from Spence’s Girl:  If you have more tapenade than bread, this is excellent tossed into a pasta sauce or used as the olive salad component of a muffalletta sandwich!

Five Bean Salad, my way

Five Bean Salad
Five Bean Salad, my way

I LOVE FIVE BEAN SALAD.  So great to take to a potluck or picnic (no mayo), it’s a favorite of ours to have as our salad or veggie side with any number of meals year round. It makes a lot and only gets better each subsequent day.  It keeps for up to two weeks in the fridge but never  lasts that long!  I use my mom’s recipe but tweak it in my own way to give it a bit more pizazz!

Five Bean Salad, my way

serves 15                      Weight Watchers Smart Points 7

1 can garbanzo beans (or chickpeas as they’re also known)
1 can great northern or navy beans
1 can cut green beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can wax beans
2 large shallots finely minced or red onion finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
4-5 finely chopped peppadew peppers (these come in a jar) or substitute 1 tablespoon chopped pimento
1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeños (first removing ribs and seeds) or green pepper if you can’t take the heat.

Drain and rinse beans and put into a large serving bowl. Add the shallots, peppadew peppers and jalapeño, stir taking care not to break the beans.

Marinade:

3/4 c red wine or champagne vinegar
3/4 c vegetable oil (canola or olive oil)
1/2 c sugar
1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
sprinkle of red pepper flakes

Mix this together well – making sure that the sugar has “melted” into the marinade. Pour over the beans and stir together. Refrigerate. Stir every 30-60 minutes to further distribute the marinade. This is best made at least 8 hours prior to serving.