Fish becomes a menu mainstay for many Christians during Lent, the six-week season of penance preceding Easter.
Tilapia is one of the most available and versatile choices. It’s a forgiving fish, and its firm flesh takes well to grilling, broiling, baking and sautéing. Portioning is easy too, with one fillet making a decent serving for most appetites.
The downside is that tilapia can be bland, so the savvy cook looks to other ingredients to flavor it. Today’s recipe pairs the fish with fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, olives and capers.
Kalamata olives and capers are great pantry staples. Both salty-briny flavor that goes a long way. Because of their saltiness, you can scale back on much of the salt in the recipe.
Kalamata olives are Greek black olives (many are actually a deep purplish color). Simple uses include setting them out as an appetizer and processing them into a paste with olive oil and other ingredients to make tapenade.
Kalamatas are common fare at supermarket olive bars. Unless you’re going to set them out on an appetizer tray, choose those that are already pitted. It will save time and money because most olives bars charge by the pound whether the olives are pitted or not.
If you wind up with pitted olives, it’s easy to remove them: Press a long chef’s knife along the back of the olive and smash it. The semi-soft flesh will split, revealing the pit.
Capers are the flower bud of a bush indigenous to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. They are green and smaller than a petite pea. Along with a salty taste, they have a hint of herbs. You will find them in small jars near the olives at most grocery stores.
Capers are packed in salty brine, so they should be drained and rinsed before using. Be sure to reserve the brine, pouring it back into the jar, to keep any remaining capers submerged. Once opened, capers should be stored in the refrigerator.