This dish came about out of necessity. We first had it at my sister's house when she and my nephews decided to cancel restaurant plans at the last minute and let Aunt Donna prepare dinner based on groceries at hand, which included a bag of quick-frozen tilapia fillets.
We loved the quick-fix results, based on the tube of grits my sister described as an impulse purchase from Trader Joe's "to see how it works." Grits and polenta lovers understand how perfection can be achieved by balancing the smooth, chewy texture of this nearly bland starch with the savory bite of seafood. Those who favor sole Veronique understand the delicious balance of a mild fish fillet paired with a surprise burst of grapes.
Donna Pierce writes for the Chicago Tribune, which provided the recipe analysis.
Fish Fillets With Grits, Greens and Grapes
Makes 4 servings -- Total time: 21 minutes
1/2 cup each: white grape juice, half-and-half
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves plus 8 optional thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon salt (divided use)
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
4 mild, thin fish fillets, such as tilapia, trout, sole or perch, each cut in half crosswise
3/4 cup white or red seedless grapes, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package (10 ounces) baby spinach
1 tube (16 ounces) organic Southern-style grits, prepared according to package instructions
Combine grape juice, half-and-half, mustard, parsley, thyme leaves, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, black pepper to taste and red pepper, if desired, in a large skillet. Heat just to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the fish fillets; lower heat to a simmer. Cover; cook until fillets flake easily with a fork, 6 to 8 minutes.
Transfer fillets to a platter to keep warm. Increase heat under skillet to medium-high; stir in the grapes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce reduces by half, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the spinach. Cook until wilted, 2 minutes; stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Set aside.
Return fish fillets to the skillet; cook until warmed through, about 1 minute. Spoon grits into pasta bowls; top each with spinach. Spoon fish and grapes over all. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.
Per serving: 520 calories, 19 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 112 milligrams cholesterol, 44 grams carbohydrate, 41 grams protein, 1,408 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber