Spinach Stuffed Catfish or Tilapia Roll

Uptown Catfish.

Much earlier in time, way back in my youth, as oppose to now-a-days living here in the 'big' city, I grew up in a small town atmosphere where life was ever so simple, or so it seemed as a child. I remember, even though we used the term 'city' to describe the town, it was not; think along the lines of a metropolis Mayberry. The town's main commerce pretty much consisted of the central street running from the train depot and underpass to the courthouse up on the hill. Now, down the hill near the depot were many stores including my uncle's hardware store and across the street was one of our favorite eateries that served many of the townsfolk. I remember several birthday parties there as well as many lunches with Uncle 'Punch' and my Grand-daddy 'Cotton'. This area of course was known as downtown. And, up on the hill, near the courthouse and county's governing seat was another uncle's storefront and across from that, a corner eatery where I too enjoyed many lunchtime meals. This of course was called uptown and there were storefronts lining the street there too, but also many lawyers and 'uptown' folks. And right dab in the center, conveniently located for everyone was the local bank. Now I must mention that to get from downtown to uptown took all of five minutes; walking that is. It was much faster in a car, including being held up at the stop-lights.

I also remember pretty much everyone in the city eating fish on Friday's. I am not for sure why, it wasn't because of religion, not that we were not a religious town, just not Catholic. Grandmother normally served bream like bluegill or shellcracker, or what-ever had been caught and stored in the freezer. Momma liked the newfangled fish-sticks. At the restaurants we enjoyed catfish and most always it was prepared fried. I suspect if we ever saw anyone serving poached or broiled fish, why, we would probably think they done gone 'uptown'.

This recipe is actually a really healthy option and you can prepare it any day of the week, not just on Fridays. Each serving contains only about 9 carbs and if you use tilapia, you can cut it down to about 4 carbs per serving. Enjoy!

Catfish and Spinach Roll
4 servings (or halve the recipe as I did for 2)

4 catfish fillets (about 4 oz ea)
1 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 garlic toes, minced
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
11 oz package fresh baby spinach
1 teaspoon wine vinegar (I used O Pinot Noir)
Salt-free seasoning (like Mrs. Dash) or seasoning to taste (I also like whole-grain mustard here too)
fresh black pepper to taste
4 oz low-fat feta cheese, cut into 4 pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a dish for baking by oiling with extra light olive oil.

Soak the fish fillets in the milk for at least an hour in the refrigerator, not more that three.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute the garlic until fragrant. Add the bell pepper and cook to soften. Add the spinach and cook stirring occasionally until spinach is just wilted. Remove from heat and sprinkle with the wine vinegar and salt-free seasoning. Toss to mix flavors.

Drain milk from fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Place one fillet in baking dish and lightly sprinkle with pepper. Add a slice of cheese in the center and add one-fourth of the spinach mixture on top of the cheese. Roll up the fillet and secure with a toothpick. Place seam side down in dish and repeat until finished rolling all fillets.

Bake in the oven about 20 minutes or until flesh is tested done with a fork. The fish should be firm all the way through and flakes easily with the fork. Remove and garnish with lemon. I like to plate and add a squeeze of lemon over the fish.

Afterthought: Why soak in milk? It's like saying "yes ma'am" to the ladies, I mean, it's just the way I was taught. I was told it made catfish 'sweeter' and truth-be-known, buttermilk is the norm.


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