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Italian Style Perch

Summer is finally here!  After all of the travelling and family events, it's now back to basics and finding some new, fun ways to enjoy a delicious summer meal.  

I'm a big advocate of fish.  It's a great, affordable way to add protein and it's a lean meat, so even better.  And, you can add so many different kinds of spices and seasonings to it and that fish will still taste great.  Plus, it cooks fast meaning you can enjoy that delicious meal sooner!

I was browsing around on BuzzFeed and found this article for 23 Easy Tricks for a Healthier Barbecue.  It has some fantastic, colorful, and healthy recipe ideas for great summer cooking.  Since I love  all things Mediterranean, I decided to try the recipe posted for Moroccan Potato Salad (find it here; posted below).  And, continuing with the "fresh fish" theme, I found this recipe for an Italian-inspired grilled fish (find it here; posted below).  It was my first time cooking fish on the grill, but it was just as easy as the oven (but much more fun).  

Both dishes turned out great and went well paired together - a breezy Mediterranean way to bring in the summer!

Italian-Inspired Perch

  1. Fish fillets!  I use perch because I love it and it's cheap at my local grocery store, but tilapia or probably most fish would also be great alternatives.
  2. Olive Oil
  3. Garlic, thinly sliced
  4. Kalamata Olives, sliced
  5. Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
  6. Small Onion, diced
  7. Fresh Lemon, sliced
  8. Parsley 
  9. Basil
  10. Seasoning of your choice for the fish

Bake that fish!

First, thaw out the fish that you want to use (if frozen).  Take a grill-ready flat sheet (or, alternatively, take a metal cookie sheet and wrap it in tin foil) and lightly drizzle the bottom with some olive oil and place the thinly sliced garlic on the sheet where you will place your fish fillets.

Season up that fish!  I used some Nature Seasoning, Lemon juice, and a bit of paprika, but feel free to play around.  

Preheat that grill!  Like I said, it was my first time using the grill to cook fish.  But I know that these perch fillets cook at 425 (Fahrenheit) for 15 minutes, so I let the grill get to about that same oven temperature (we've got a gas grill with a gauge, but otherwise, I guess that would be about medium/medium-low heat for a covered grill?).

In a separate bowl, slice up kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, onion, parsley, basil, and lemon.  Mix everything up together and then cover the fish on the tray with this aromatic mixture.  The combined smell of the tomato with the fresh basil and parsley alone already makes you wish the meal was ready.  Finish it off with drizzling some olive oil over everything again to keep that moisture and prevent burning.

Now, grill that fish!  You can just place the tray on the burners, cover the grill, and set your timer.  When the fish fillets are firm to the touch and the meat flakes with your fork, it's ready.  Again, about 13-16 minutes, probably.  Just as the original chef wrote, "the smell is intoxicating as the garlic starts cooking and infuses the fish...the flavors all blend together leaving an exceptional taste!"

Moroccan Potato Salad

Described by the original chef as "bright and aromatic with plenty of fresh parsley," this potato salad lives up to its hype.

  1. Scrubbed Potatoes (about 1 pound)
  2. 3/4 Cup minced Flat-Leaf Parsley (I purchased one bunch of fresh parsley from the grocery store, used about the 3/4 cup for the potato salad, and used the rest of the bunch for the fish above)
  3. 1 Small Red Onion, peeled & minced
  4. 1 Garlic Clove, peeled & minced
  5. Olive Oil (recipe recommends 1 tbsp., but I'd add a bit more to keep the potatoes moist instead of dry once you cook and peel them).
  6. Salt & Pepper to taste
  7. A little bit of Lemon Juice

Mix it Up!

Instructions are pretty easy on this one.  Place the potatoes in a pot of cold water.  You can add a bit of salt to help the potatoes stay together when you boil them.  Do not peel them yet.  Cook over medium-high heat until tender, about 20-25 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and let them cool (that's the hardest part for me - I get too excited then end up burning my fingers; just wait it out though).

Next, the mixing part!  Combine the parsley, red onion, garlic, and olive oil into a medium bowl.  Season to taste with the salt & pepper (for a heart-healthy option, cut out salt completely).  Peel the potatoes, then coarsely chop them.  Add them to your bowl with the mixture.  I added a bit of lemon juice to the salad to complement the potato and parsley tastes.  Serve hot or cold, your preference (even though it's summer, I still prefer potatoes warm).  Enjoy!

Note: Everything was really easy to make and including prep time for each dish separately, took less than one hour total.  If you want to make the fish in non-grill-season (or you don't have a grill), no worries - using the regular conventional oven cooking instructions for your fish, you can do the exact same recipe with equally delicious results!

Additional Note: For some summer music, this song has been on the radio now that I'm back Stateside and it's pretty catchy.

For now, time to hit the beach!
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For more Pure Michigan photos, click here.

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