Maria’s Seafood right here in Pensacola is just about as good as it gets. No, it’s not Pike’s Place in Seattle, but it’s terrific, and a fabulous local resource. It’s my “go to” place for shrimp, scallops, blue crab, and gorgeous red snapper.
But when this meal was prepared, it was a busy Tuesday. Maria’s is an 18 mile drive into town, and I wanted fish for supper. And so, while I was making a quick hit at our neighborhood Publix supermarket, I looked at their selection of fish, and considered the Tilapia. From Ecuador. Farm raised, but fresh, not frozen.
It was almost 5 o’clock, and I didn’t want to delve much further into the provenance of this small package of lean protein. I figured if it was awful, there was always leftover black beans and rice or peanut butter and jelly. I took my little package and headed for the express lane.
The Base: Verdant springtime. Greener than Buck’s eyes. Rub a baking dish with a little butter or olive oil, then throw in a thick layer of baby spinach.
Zen of Fish: Doesn’t it look cool, like the feet of veined marble? The little filets are placed on the baby spinach, then covered with a teaspoon of pecan spinach pesto.
Charred Tomatoes on the Side: This is a way to find a God-spark within an out-of-season grocery store Roma tomato. Slice in half lengthwise. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of kosher salt, grind on some black pepper, dust with dried Italian herbs, then grill-sauté in a smear of olive oil. They will get black. There is no better accompaniment for fish, grilled chicken, tossed with pasta, added to a pizza, or slabbed onto baguette slices.
Food for the Writer’s Soul: Isn’t it wonderful that high-octane dark chocolate has been declared a heatlh food? After dinner, I plan to enjoy a little dark chocolate nutriceutical along with an antioxidant tot of port. Oh, and I’ll read a few pages of Proust’s memoir, Speak Memory, to help my brain’s synapses jump and the dendrites branch. See? Aging isn’t so bad, after all.