Friday, January 6, 2012

Lunch line

Right across the street from my office, there is a hospital. It's not one of those sprawling, newly built medical centers where you go to have your baby, tummy tuck and heart transplant all in the same day. Sure, you could have a baby there ... but I wouldn't. The hospital is more of the kind of place you go to when you staple your finger to your pants, get your wedding ring stuck after mistakenly putting it on the wrong finger or miss the chair and crack your head open on a 7-year-old PC tower.

Oh, it's also a hospital you could go to to grab lunch.

Go ahead. Turn up your nose. But when the office cafeteria has a candy machine, chips machine and refrigerated one with curiously labeled meat sandwiches, you might just walk your butt across the street to get an upgrade in the form of hospital cafeteria food.

The offerings vary day-to-day but I'm always happy with a salad from the bar, hot soup and a veggie from the hot line. I'm not usually persuaded to get much else (hello, meat "gravy" and chicken fingers) but the other day, I dared to be different. I ordered the pesto baked tilapia that was right next to the roasted squash.

Lunch lady, you had me at pesto.

The fish was surprisingly delicious, with the pesto adding tons of flavor to an ordinarily bland fish and roasted tomato garnish adding a bright burst. I knew with one bite that I'd have to make it at home.

Pesto Baked Tilapia with Burst Tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil, more or less as desired
2 tilapia filets, thawed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons prepared pesto, divided

Preheat broiler.

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Season fish with salt and pepper. Add filets and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fish. Add grape tomatoes and minced garlic, tossing as the fish cooks another 2 minutes. Top each filet with 1 teaspoon and spread with back of spoon to coat. Put skillet (as long as it's ovenproof) under the broiler for 6 to 7 minutes. The key here is to make sure the pesto gets a bit crusty (for lack of a better word), the tomatoes burst and nothing catches on fire. Trust me, that last one is important.

Serve with couscous, wild rice or whatever the hell you want.

Mark and I both really enjoyed this dish, which is very light - even with the pesto. 

What's your favorite fish dish?


  1. . . . it is where you want to go if you get burned :)

    I'm excited you had a healthy and fun new lunch!!!!

    Tomorrow GIRL -woot woot

  2. Hubs and I love fish (but pregnancy has made it nasty for me) and he cooks it best on the stovetop with some white wine. Yummy! The hospital in my hometown has the best cafe as well. We used to go there all the time for grilled cheese and milk shakes during school lunch.

  3. hospital food can be pretty good. the food i had at nyu hospital after I had willa was excellent!! and look, the chef even won a culinary competition: