This is a dinner I made for a friend. He’d made the choice to eat more healthy, but I think needed a little inspiration as  to how to do that but still enjoy what he was eating.

Fish is a very healthy protein for multiple reasons: it provides a lighter, easy-to-prepare “main dish” to build a meal around that still satisfies. It can be a great way to wean yourself off of beef, sausage, and other fattier proteins.

Most of my recipes are formulated off the cuff, meaning I didn’t measure anything. I give much greater care to remembering ratios because that’s really what’s important in cooking (baking, though, is another story).

I started with 5  squarish pieces of Mahi Mahi about 4-5 ouces each. If using a whole fish, cut filets in half short-wise and you’ll get the same result.  This is the right size to top the salad with when plating the dish.

My recipe serves 5, cooking time is less than an hour, active prep time is around 30 minutes, and inactive prep time (vinaigrette chill time) is 1-8 hours.  If you’re in a pinch though, you can serve the vinaigrette without chilling. The rest of the meal is so good I doubt you’ll get many complaints about the vinaigrette not being marinated enough.

Vinaigrette: (Make this first to allow flavors to meld. Recommended the night before, or 1-2 hrs before serving time.)
Juice of 2-3 lemons (about 1/4 – 1/3 cup).
1/2 – 2/3 cup of olive oil.
2 cloves garlic, pressed/minced.
1 Tbsp. Italian seasonings (Oregano)
Dash of cayenne.
Salt + pepper to taste.

Yields: 1 cup, more than you’ll need for this recipe, but extra is great to have as some folks like a lot of dressing. As it’s pure and healthy, you can indulge without too much guilt.)

In a medium-sized bowl or salad dressing maker, combine olive oil and lemon juice. Wisk to aerate. When mixture turns a cloudy yellow, stop to add remaining vinaigrette ingredients. Wisk again to combine, cover, and refrigerate.

Vegetables: To make this salad a “real meal,” I like to add roasted vegetables. This way, the meal is 60% cooked, and for some (my husband included), makes the meal feel more substantial and complete…without losing the health benefits.

Pre-heat oven to 425.

2-3 Tbsp. Olive oil
8 oz. Asparagus, wooden ends trimmed off and discarded, the rest cut into 1-inch lengths.
8 oz. Cherry or Grape tomatoes, washed and cut in half.
1 med. Zucchini squash, cut into cubes.
1 med. Yellow squash, cubed.
1 Red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch cubes.
1/2 Of a small onion, cut into thin strips.

Put all vegetables into oven-safe 9×13 casserole pan and season with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat (I use my impeccably-clean hands), and bake for 10-15 minutes. Toss and stir periodically for even cooking.

When the squash and asparagus are tender-crisp and tomatoes are wrinkling and distressed, remove from oven (carefully), and set aside. Don’t forget to turn off your oven. 🙂

Mahi Mahi: Quick-thawing and quick-cooking, this fish only takes minutes to prepare (which is awesome). When preparing the dish to serve, this is the last step before assembly, so I’d recommend taking the salad dressing out of the refrigerator and into a serving dish at this point to get the chill off.

4 -4 or 5 oz. Mahi Mahi fillets, thawed.
1-2 Tbsp. lemon grill seasoning (I use McCormick. It’s very very good.)
1 Tbsp. Olive oil for sauté (if using teflon, may use less)

Heat wide, shallow sauté pan to medium-high. Add Olive oil to prevent sticking.
Season fish on both sides with lemon grill seasoning.
When Olive oil is shimmery, add fish to pan.
Cook fish 2/3 of way without turning (prevents sticking, creates a great sear), checking every now and again to be sure not to burn it.
When sides turn opaque, flip and finish cooking until center is flaky and opaque. (Total of about 8-10 minutes)
Cut the heat and remove fish from pan.

Assembly: On a large tray or bowl, add the following:
1 package (about 1 lb) of Fresh Baby Spinach. (May seem to0 little for 4 servings, but with veggies and fish, it works out perfectly).
Add roasted veggies (still warm, almost hot) on top of spinach.
Place fish on top of veggies.
Shake or wisk vinaigrette to thicken, pour desired amount over dish.

You can obviously plate this individually and serve dressing on the side (which is what I did), because dressing—like religion or politics—is a very personal choice many feel passionately about. Thus, it’s often better to leave to guests to decide. 🙂