Spring Salad

Tilapia and heirloom tomato salad

A relatively simple, elegantly presented dish vibrant with color and flavor. Blanching the tomatoes creates a velvety delicate mouth feel generating a new tomato experience. This salad can be equally delicious by omitting the tilapia as a simpler version without any compromise.


2 tilapia filets
1 oz sunflower oil
2 pints mini heirloom tomatoes
4 basil leaves julienned widthwise
3 green onions cut into ⅛” coins
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
flaked sea salt and pepper to taste


Blanching tomatoes:
Bring approximately 1 liter of water to a boil. Have ready a bowl of ice water that will accommodate the volume of tomatoes. Prick each tomato eye with a sharp paring knife forming an “x” without cutting to far into the flesh (about a 1/4” deep). Place the tomatoes all at once into the water and blanch for 20-30 seconds or until the skins show signs of pulling away from the flesh.Remove and plunge them into the ice water to prevent them from softening too much. Let stand for 2 minutes or until chilled. Peel away and discard the skins.Cut any larger tomatoes in half. Hold at room temperature.
Start by separating the thin side of the tilapia filet from the thick side by slicing it  lengthwise. Slice the thick side of the tilapia filet into 2 horizontally forming 2 roughly ⅜” thick pieces. Roll each filet up tightly to form a pinwheel then secure with a toothpick. Heat a cast iron pan on high heat for 3 minutes. Season the fish with some salt and pepper. Add the sunflower oil to the pan and after 10 seconds add the tilapia rolls on their sides. Cook for 1 minute to color then flip them over. Lower heat to low and cover with a lid for 4-5 minutes or until no longer translucent. Remove and place on to a holding plate.
Remove the toothpicks from the fish. Place each pinwheel upright onto pasta bowls. Add 5 -6 tomatoes surrounding the fish, sprinkle with the basil and green onions then drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with flaked sea salt to finish.
The tilapia rolls can be done and refrigerated ahead of time without seasoning them. The tomatoes also can be blanched ahead of time and chilled to hold. Season them just before serving for best results otherwise the basil and onions will pick up strength and overpower what rightfully should be a very delicate dish.