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Basil
Our basil pot
I've been working for the last couple of months, so I haven't been cooking as much.  My wife has taken up the slack quite well and made some great stuff.  She's also been able to start a wonderful and growing garden on the back patio of our apartment.  Some of the most prolific plants in the garden seem to be the three basil plantings.  Originally there were four, but (thankfully in retrospect) one died early on.  The other three are growing outrageously well.

So I figured I needed to make some pesto!  But what to cook with it?

I decided to pull out the blackened fish recipe that I had successfully executed before and see if the pesto would work with it.  It worked tremendously well!

Recipe below the orange squiggly.

Blackened Fish w/ Pesto and Couscous
Blackened Fish w/ Pesto and Couscous
I'm a believer in the 3-layer meal:  a base, a main, and a topping or sauce.  It stacks well, it looks good, and it contains all the basics of a healthy dish.  You can control the portion size (the fish in the picture is a little big for the rest of the plate), and you can impress your friends with an elegant presentation.

Our three layers here are:  couscous with corn and green onions, blackened tilapia, and pesto.

I wasn't originally sure that this combination would work together.  I figured I was just throwing together a decent meal that wouldn't be awful and would use some of our prodigious basil.  It actually turned out to be very well put together, and, indeed, my wife and I agreed that it was one of the best things I've made this year.

Give it a try!

Pesto:
1/4 cup pinenuts
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
3-4 tbsp olive oil

In a dry, non-stick skillet, lightly toast the pinenuts.  Remove to food processor and pulse a few times to begin breaking them down.  Add the chopped basil and sliced garlic.  Slowly add the oil while pulsing until pesto sticks to the side.  Use as much oil as you need to get the desired consistency.

Makes about 1/3 cup (6 tbsp).

Corny Couscous:
1 ear of corn with husk
1 cup veggie stock
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup couscous
2 stalks of green onion
1 tsp black peppercorn, crushed

Trim the hair and stem from the ear of corn without exposing the kernels.  Roast at 300 degrees until husk begins to brown, turning occasionally.  When ready, remove husk and slice kernels off into a bowl.  Use the back edge of the knife to scrape the 'cream' from the cob.

Bring stock to a boil in a small saucepan and add salt and butter.  When butter is melted (less than a minute), add the couscous, cover, and remove from heat.  Wait a few minutes, then add green onion, pepper, and corn.  Stir gently.

Serves 4.

Blackened Tilapia:
1 tbsp black peppercorn, crushed
1 tbsp coriander seed, crushed
1 tsp cumin seed, crushed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp tumeric

2 tilapia filets

In a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder) crush the black pepper, coriander, and cumin seed.  Add salt, paprika, cayenne, and tumeric.

Coat the filets liberally with the spice blend.

In a medium non-stick skillet, bring some cooking oil to medium high heat.  Cook the fish until slightly crispy on each side, about 2 minutes per side.

Serves 2 or more depending on size of filets.

We ended up with more couscous than we could use, so you may want to cut that recipe in half if you are only serving two.  Of course, you can always keep the leftovers for tomorrow's lunch.  There was plenty of leftover pesto, too.  If you are serving 4, double the fish recipe and everything else should work out fine.

Enjoy!

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