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Blackened Tilapia w/ Quick Collard Greens

Blackened Tilapia w/ Quick Collard Greens
When I think of a quick-cooking protein, fish is always the first to come to mind.  With the addition of some veggies, a quick and healthy meal can be on your supper plates in virtually no time.  Perfect solution for a busy weekday.

Now, getting a meal on the table quick doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice flavor.  One way to do so is by adding spice!  Blackening spice is a quick blend that, if your spice cupboard is half as full as mine, you can probably whip up in no time!  Dust it on a few fillets, steaks, or even whole fish and let it sit for a little bit (to permeate) - instant flavor.  Once you've done that, approximately five minutes bathing in a bit of heat and you're good to go.
Blackened Tilapia w/ Quick Collard Greens
Now, when I decided I wanted to use blackening spice on my tilapia today, it was in part because I had just found a beautiful bunch of collard greens at the market...and they told me that they were yearning for a bit on spicy fish juice to seep down into them.  Really, they did.  In a silent sort of way.

I know when you think collards, you might thing of a longer cooking time...simmering on the stove with some smoky pork hocks, making the whole neighborhood hungry.  But if you remove the tough stem, and slice them into thin ribbons, they will sauté up in a flash!

And yes, those collards were was pretty much a perfect plate.  Packed with flavor, healthy, and on the table in 30!

Blackened Tilapia w/ Quick Collard Greens
Blackened Tilapia w/ Quick Collard Greens
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Keywords: saute side entree nut-free soy-free fish greens spice American

Ingredients (serves 4)
    for the Collards:
    • 1-1/2 tablespoons malt vinegar
    • 2-1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
    • 1 (or so) pounds collard greens (really big bunch)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 cloves garlic, peeled & lightly smashed
    • couple pinches crushed red chile flakes
    • sea salt
    • freshly ground black pepper
    for the Blackening Spice:
    • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    for the Fish:
    • 4 tilapia fillets
    • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil
    • 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
    prepping the collard greens:
    Pull the thick, tough part of the stem from the rinsed collard greens (about the bottom 3/4's of the stem). I find the easiest way to do this is to sort of "fold" the green in half, with the darker insides facing each other. Use one hand to hold the two halves of the collard together towards the bottom, while using the other hand to rip the stem out.

    Stack all of the greens flat on top of each other (in a few separate stacks), and then roll each stack lengthwise, as tightly as you can - like you're rolling a ....cigar. Slice each roll into 1/4-inch ribbons and set aside for a moment.

    prepping the tilapia:
    Place all of the ingredients for the blackening spice in a small bowl and stir until thoroughly combined (or put it into a small baggie or jar and shake it up). Pat each piece of tilapia dry, using a paper towel. Set them on a tray and coat both sides of them with the blackening spice (maybe about a tablespoon or so per piece of fish). If you have leftover Blackening Spice, just label it and keep it in your spice cabinet for later. Let the fish sit for about 15 minutes, while you get on with your collards.

    finishing the collards:
    Whisk the malt vinegar and maple syrup together in a small bowl and set aside.

    Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Throw in the garlic cloves and cook, stirring, until the garlic has turned golden brown and smells glorious, about 3 minutes or so. Lift out the garlic and discard it (or do whatever you like with it). Throw in the red chile flakes and salt, and give them a quick stir.

    Immediately throw the collard ribbons into the pot and saute, using a pair of tongs to toss and turn until the collards have turned a bright green and are just starting to wilt, 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with chile flakes, salt, and pepper.  Remove from heat and drizzle the maple syrup and vinegar mixture over them, toss to mix. Transfer to a serving bowl or plate.

    cook your fish:
    Wipe out your skillet and place it back over medium-high heat. Add the oil, and when it is almost smoking hot, add your fish fillets, presentation side down. Flip after 2-3 minutes, and continue cooking until done, another 2-3 minutes (fish should flake easily).

    Divide your collard ribbons among serving plates and set a piece of the blackened tilapia on each. Serve with a lemon wedge for squeezing over before eating. Enjoy!

    Tilapia adapted from Aaron McCargo Jr.
    Collard Greens adapted from Fine Cooking
    Blackened Tilapia w/ Quick Collard Greens