By Melissa D’Arabian, The Associated Press
Years ago I was traveling alone for work in New York City, and I popped into a random restaurant across the street from my hotel.
I asked for a menu recommendation from my waiter, and he insisted on a claypot fish, a simple dish of cod, tomatoes, onion, potatoes and lemon baked in a small cazuela, or clay pot.
I was skeptical, but completely hooked at first bite: fresh, simple, comforting all at once. The veggies created a light aromatic broth that steamed the fish gently to delicate perfection. The simple meal was so good, in in fact, that I went back the second night of my trip and ordered the exact same thing. In a city with more must-try restaurants than I could ever hope to visit, repeat visits mean something.
I’ve made various versions of claypot fish myself over the years, using cute tapas-style dishes I bought while visiting Barcelona, and I’ve loved every one of them.
I was exploring the (crazy?) idea of making uber-fast meals in the microwave, and immediately claypot fish came to mind: could a covered glass dish provide the right environment to quickly steam the fish correctly, and avoid the rubbery-results one might expect from a microwaved meal?
The short answer is yes! The trick is not to overcook the fish, even by a minute, so check the fish frequently. I use a glass dish, so admittedly it’s missing the charm and earthy flavor of the cazuela, but this microwaved version of claypot fish is legit delicious.
It’s versatile (feel free to swap in some of your favorite ingredients or herbs), healthy, and full of vitamins and lean protein. Plus, anytime you can get dinner on the table in under 15 minutes is one less night you’ll be tempted to swing by the drive-thru. And that is a huge win for both your health and your wallet.
WEEKNIGH CLAYPOT FISH
Start to Finish: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
1 pound fingerling potatoes
4 fillets of Dover sole, or other white fish, such as cod or flounder, about 1 pound
3 roma tomatoes, diced
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons capers (or briny olives)
chopped parsley, for garnish
Pierce the fingerling potatoes two or three times each with a fork and place in a glass microwave-safe dish with cover. Fill with enough water to cover about one-fourth the way up the potatoes (about ½ cup water) and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Microwave for 10 minutes. Potatoes should be firm but with some give. Season the fish fillets with a little salt and pepper and lay on top of the par-cooked potatoes.
In a small bowl, mix together the tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, onion and capers. Spoon on top of the fish. Cover and microwave for 5 minutes.
Check for doneness — fish should be opaque. If not done, microwave for another minute or two, but check every thirty seconds. Let sit for a minute or two and then serve. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Nutrition information per serving: 273 calories; 88 calories from fat; 10g fat (2g saturated; 0g trans fats); 71mg cholesterol; 572mg sodium; 24g carbohydrate; 4g fiber; 3g sugar; 22g protein.
Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook “Supermarket Healthy.”