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Light, luscious fish dish can be made in flash

Often, I get requests for recipes that seem to ask the impossible. We need a dinner that’s healthy yet decadent, simple to prepare, fast enough to make on a busy weeknight and so flavorful it’ll please the whole family. Oh, and totally inexpensive. OK, I gotcha covered.

I’d like you to meet my little friend: tilapia, a firm textured white fish so mild it takes on the flavor of any seasoning.

Tilapia is the most popular fish around the globe. With over a billion pounds responsibly farm-raised annually, there’s no risk of overfishing.

I recommend buying frozen tilapia as the price is affordable at around $3 a pound. At 185 calories and 34 grams protein per 6 ounce serving, this is a fish dinner winner.

Tilapia is best broiled, baked or pan fried. When it reaches 145 F or it’s opaque and flakes easily with a fork it’s done.

When it comes to seasoning tilapia, the world is at your fingertips. Every culture has recipes using tilapia, so there are thousands of recipes floating around. You can substitute tilapia for most firm white fish in any recipe.

The quickest way to prepare tilapia is to broil it with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Place your desired number of filets on a rimmed baking sheet and broil on high for 5 minutes, or until the fish is done. Sprinkle on a few capers or fresh herbs, add a heap of steamed vegetables and dinner is done.

To oven bake tilapia, preheat oven to 400 F. Place tilapia seasoned as desired on a rimmed baking sheet or baking dish for 12-15 minutes or until the fish is done.

To add a crunchy coating to tilapia without frying, dip the filets in egg wash and cover in panko or seasoned breadcrumbs and bake as directed above. Add Parmesan to the crumbs for a real treat.

Here’s a family favorite I hope you’ll love.

SKILLET TILAPIA WITH WARM AVOCADO SALSA

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 25 minutes

What you’ll need:

1½ pounds tilapia fillets, about 4 pieces, thawed if frozen

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1½ tablespoons lime juice (see tip*)

For salsa:

1½ cups or one large or two small avocados, diced

2 tablespoons green onion, sliced

2 tablespoons cilantro, minced (see tip*)

1½ tablespoons lime juice

*Diva tip: If limes are cheap, juice fresh lime and add the zest. If they’re off season, use lime juice from concentrate. Both are delicious. Don’t like cilantro? Substitute parsley or your favorite herb.

Here’s how:

Heat a large nonstick skillet to medium. Mix melted butter with lime juice and brush both sides of the fish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. You won’t use all the butter mixture.

Place the remaining butter into the skillet. Add tilapia and cook for 4 minutes and carefully turn over. Cook 4 minutes more or until the fish is done. Remove to platter and keep warm.

Place the avocado, green onion, cilantro and lime juice into a small bowl, stir to combine. When you remove the fish, put the salsa into the skillet and stir it around to mingle with the pan juices until just warmed through. Serve the salsa over the fish.

I like to serve this with brown rice and a green vegetable or with warm tortillas like a fish taco.

According to the FDA, 6 ounces is a serving, so 1½ pounds makes four servings. My family’s appetites are bigger than this, so I double the recipe and enjoy any leftovers for lunch the next day. Bon appétit!

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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