Greens are Greens, Right?

Sautéed Tilapia over Swiss Chard with Tarragon Butter was a definite winner for a whole host of reasons. First, it was quick and easy and perfect for a Meatless Monday dinner. Second, you couldn’t argue with the fresh, healthy ingredients. Third, we loved it—and tilapia happened to be on sale at the grocery store that week.

Here, fresh tarragon lends a haunting, delicate anise flavor to mild, quick-cooking tilapia fillets. And as luck would have it, we had enough fresh tarragon in our backyard herb garden. However, pleased as we were about getting the fish on sale, Russ grabbed collard greens instead of Swiss chard, and I didn’t notice until a few days later when preparing dinner.

Greens are greens, right? Not when you have to factor in the cooking time. While the chard cooks up in a matter of minutes, the collard greens have to cook, partially covered, for at least 45 minutes for chewy collards, or up to 2 hours for silky soft collards. So much for “quick.”

Luckily (or not, depending on if you were driving), Russ was once again stuck in a major traffic jam and wouldn’t be home for at least an hour, so that gave me ample time to cook the collards… and do some laundry, and read my email, and talk on the phone with my brother…

Our other side dish was Jasmine Rice with Toasted Pine Nuts and Chives, which was very good and easy to make. The buttery, toasty pine nuts added a hint of richness to the basic rice pilaf creating a rich flavor. Might try a bit more lemon juice next time to balance the flavors. In the end, everything came together beautifully—even though it was almost 9:00 by the time we finished dinner 😦

Many reviewers cut back on the overall amount of butter used, so we heeded their advice. Because of the greens faux pas, we had to use two skillets, but if you follow the directions and buy the chard, you’ll only have one pan to clean. The moral of the story? Pay attention to what you grab in the supermarket, or be ready to roll with the punches.

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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. Swiss chard, fibrous stems and ribs discarded; leaves coarsely chopped, washed, and dried
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 Tbs. unsalted butter (4 Tbs. cut into small pieces)
  • 2 tilapia fillets, 6 oz. each
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a 10- to 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds. Add a big handful of the Swiss chard and cook, tossing often, until it has collapsed enough to add more.
  2. Continue adding the chard in batches until it’s all in the pan and then cook until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide the chard between two dinner plates, and keep warm.
  3. Wipe out the skillet and return it to medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbs. of the butter and let it melt. Sprinkle the tilapia with 1/4 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  4. Add the tilapia and cook, turning once halfway through cooking, until it’s well browned and cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Top the chard with the tilapia and keep warm.
  5. Add the shallot to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and beginning to soften, 30 to 60 seconds.
  6. Add the lemon juice; it should evaporate almost instantly, but if not, cook until nearly evaporated, about 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the 4 Tbs. butter pieces and tarragon, stirring constantly until the butter melts.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the butter sauce over the fish and chard and serve immediately.

by David Bonom from Fine Cooking

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About 20 minutes into sautéing the collard greens with some minced garlic.

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The pine nuts are browning in butter for a few minutes before getting mixed into the rice.

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The third fillet browns in the skillet.

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The original two tilapia fillets keep warm on the greens while the last fillet cooks.

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Minced shallots are lightly browned in butter.

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Chopped tarragon is added to the browned shallots.

Jasmine Rice with Toasted Pine Nuts and Chives

Good and easy to make, the buttery, toasty pine nuts add a hit of richness to your basic rice pilaf and create a rich flavor. Might try a bit more lemon juice next time to balance the flavors.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 Tbs. chopped chives
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Cook the rice according to package directions with a pinch of salt.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until the butter and nuts are browned, about 3 minutes.
  3. Combine with the rice and add the chives and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

by Ronne Day from Fine Cooking

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