Fish dish gets heart-healthy makeover and delicious Mediterranean tang

Good for you

January 22, 1992|By Charlotte Balcomb Lane | Charlotte Balcomb Lane,Orlando Sentinel

For generations, Mediterranean cooks have combined tomatoes, herbs, garlic and olive oil with fresh seafood. This time-honored ingredient mix has been updated in the following recipe for Mediterranean fish.

The result is an easy-to-make, robust fish dinner that is low in fat, high in protein. The recipe can be made with almost any kind of fish.

The microwave oven cooks fish quickly so the delicate flesh stays tender and doesn't dry out. The zesty topping of herbs and vegetables moistens the fish as it cooks and provides a bit of Italian-flavored juice that soaks nicely into rice, orzo or couscous. For a heartier meal, try serving the dish with linguine or fettuccine instead of rice.

Mediterranean Fish

1 1/4 pound firm-fleshed fish, such as red snapper, grouper, mahi mahi, cod, orange roughy or halibut

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 small red onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)

1 stalk of celery, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed through a press

2 small tomatoes or plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1/2 teapoon oregano, crushed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup clam juice

Dash Worcestershire sauce (optional)

Place the fish fillets in a circle on a microwave-safe baking dish or in individual-serving size oval-shaped baking dishes. If the fillets are thin or long, cut into serving portions and fold in half.

In another microwave-safe container, combine the oil, onion, celery, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook in the microwave oven on high (100 percent) power for three minutes, stirring after 1 1/2 minutes. Spread the mixture evenly over the fish fillets.

Combine the tomato paste, wine, clam juice and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the fish and vegetables. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or wax paper. If cooking fish in a single dish, cook on high power (100 percent) for five to six minutes, turning once.

If cooking fish in individual-serving dishes, cook for two to three minutes, turning after 1 1/2 minutes. Allow fish to stand in cooking dish at least three minutes before serving. Fish will exude liquid during cooking, but most of it will be reabsorbed as the fish cools.

Serve with rice, orzo or couscous. Orzo, a popular Italian side dish, is rice-shaped pasta. Couscous, a staple of North African cuisine, is granular semolina or cracked wheat. Both are available in ethnic markets and most large grocery stores.

To prepare this recipe using a conventional range, heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Saute the onions, celery and garlic for two minutes until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, parsley, oregano, tomato paste, wine, clam juice and optional Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, until the mixture thickens.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place fish fillets in individual casserole dishes or in one oven-safe baking dish. Top with sauce and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Serves four. Each serving has 214 calories; 4.8 grams fat; 6 grams carbohydrate, 49 milligrams cholesterol and 323 milligrams sodium.

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