Recipe: Grilled Tilapia with Grapefruit and Fennel Salsa, A Take on Giada’s Bikini Ready Menu

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So the other week I was watching Everyday Italian, Giada De Laurentiis’ show on the Food Network. Her theme was a bikini ready menu. Now I am always looking for fennel recipes, because Roberto loves it so much. So when I saw her begin to prepare a grapefruit and fennel salsa for fish I was intrigued. For some reason I have been on a huge grapefruit kick and I have been experimenting with it a little bit this summer – putting vanilla yogurt on it for breakfast, sautéing it and drizzling honey on it for dessert, etc. So this looked like the perfect match up! But then she lost me. She used halibut steaks, which to me is one of the most bland, most uninspired fishes. I am into the fattier (good fat – omega-3 fat ) fishes like salmon, mackerel, swordfish (that I wish I could eat if it weren’t chock full o’ mercury and endangered), etc. So halibut just makes me want to cry, in a bad way. Plus Giada’s recipes involving fish always kind of put me off – she generally uses bland fish and then pairs them with weird stuff like
roasted cod with lima beans
, so they look to be the most bland and boring thing I could ever imagine eating, which is weird for me, because generally I like her food. So instead of just turning away from this recipe, I used it as a guideline – which is what I do with most recipes – and decided to make a few adjustments.

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Here is her recipe:

1 cup ruby red grapefruit segments (about 2 grapefruits)
1/4 cup grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
1 fennel bulb, trimmed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pitted nicoise olives, halved
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 (6-ounce) pieces halibut
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In small bowl combine the grapefruit segments, juice, and zest. Halve the fennel bulb lengthwise, thinly slice and add to the bowl. Add the olive oil, olives, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
Meanwhile, place the fish on a parchment-lined roasting dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper and bake for 10 to 12 minutes depending on thickness.
Gently transfer the fish to a serving plate. Top with the grapefruit and fennel salsa and serve immediately.

This is what I changed about it. This salsa is tangy and sweet, I see no place for hot pepper flakes and olives – they seem out of place and icky. So I omitted those two ingredients and just opted for some fresh ground pepper. I also cut the amount of olive oil in half as there is so much juice there is already plenty of liquid. She also uses parsley as her herb of choice, which to me feels kind of bland. So I used some Italian and Thai basil for a little spicy, lemon-y feel and also added some of the fennel fronds. I also added a bit of lime juice to perk it up.

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Now with regard to the fish itself, as mentioned, I do not in general enjoy halibut, but really love the flavor of tilapia – it has a meatier texture which I prefer in fish. Instead of roasting it, I grilled it on a grill pan. I also sprinkled it with sweet Hungarian paprika, Trapani sea salt and fresh ground pepper. It was delicious, refreshing and something I could really sink my teeth into without interfering with the health benefits.
So the lesson here is if you like some components of a recipe, but don’t like some of the other ingredients, don’t throw away the whole recipe, just experiment with the flavors you enjoy! A recipe is a guideline! Not something that needs to be set in stone.