Perhaps it was the Hebrew singing that made it special for me. Or maybe it was the rich meaning behind the foods that were served. One food I remember more than any other — the horseradish that was traditionally served as the "bitter herb" portion of the meal.
My mom would scoop a tiny bit of freshly grated horseradish onto a crispy matzo cracker, then hand me a pickled beet as a chaser. I was only a child, but the memory of that flavour combination has stayed with me, attached to memories of family dinners and my mom.
This recipe celebrates horseradish — not the creamy sauce you find next to the roast beef at an all-you-can-eat buffet, but rather the actual root. Technically, horseradish is a vegetable and has health benefits similar to its root vegetable cousins. But with its strong flavour, we typically eat very small quantities, using horseradish more as a condiment.
Condiments that are low in sugar, fat and calories are an excellent way to infuse a healthy dish with tons of flavour. You can buy horseradish in root form at well-stocked markets, or keep a jar of grated horseradish in the refrigerator like I do. Mix it into salad dressings, meat rubs and into tangy acidic foods, like freshly-pickled veggies.
If raw horseradish is too strong for you, toss veggies or potatoes with it, then roast. This softens the flavour considerably. In this recipe, I make a chunky chimichurri sauce (with beet greens instead of herbs, as a wink to mom) to spoon over roasted fish right as it comes out of the oven. The heat will make the flavours in the sauce sing.
TILAPIA WITH HORSERADISH AND BEET GREEN CHIMICHURRI
Start to finish: 25 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds tilapia filets
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 bunch beet greens, washed thoroughly and dried
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons grated fresh horseradish
Heat the oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment.
Use 1 tablespoon of the oil to brush over both sides of the fish filets, then season with salt and pepper. Place the tilapia on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the tilapia is no longer translucent, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, finely chop the beet greens (you should have a little over 1 cup), and set aside.
In a blender, place the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the lemon juice, vinegar, shallot, Worcestershire sauce and horseradish. Blend until the shallot is pureed, about 10 seconds. Add the beet greens to the blender and pulse a couple times, just to coat the beet greens with vinaigrette. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water if the mixture is too dry. Pour the chimichurri into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Once the fish is cooked, place the filets on serving plates, then spoon the chimichurri over the hot fish.
Nutrition information per serving: 240 calories; 90 calories from fat (38 per cent of total calories); 10 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 85 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 35 g protein; 420 mg sodium.
Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, "Supermarket Healthy." http://www.melissadarabian.net