Monday, October 29, 2012

Tilapia with Bell Peppers and Parsley-Spiked Couscous

A few years back, while teaching on the island of Ebeye, I encountered a problem with words.  It started while reading Encyclopedia Brown with my 5th graders.

"Then Encyclopedia and... and..." the little girl stopped.

"Phoebe," I suggested.

"... and" then she dropped her voice down to a whisper, "Phoebe followed the trail.
Popcorn Manty."  She let out a sigh of relief and relaxed back into her chair.

It was Manty's turn to read, but he just looked at the book for a moment.  Finally he read, "Fo-ay-bee and Encyclopedia..."

"Phoebe, it's Phoebe."

"Um, ok... 'she picked up her magnifying glass and looked down at the ground.'  Popcorn Bokjuwa."  Another sigh of relief, another body relaxing into a wooden chair.

Man, I thought, what is with these kids today?  You would think that after me telling them it is Phoebe for the fifteenth time, they would get it.  

But no, Bokjuwa had the same problem.  Except hers was pronounced like Foo-bay.

"Guys, it's Fee-bee.  FEE-BEE.  Say it with me."


And then a hand shot up.  "Miss?" Pamela called out, "Um, that name, that word, um..."  She hesitated for a minute and then blurted it out, "In our language it means, you know, a girl's..." Then she glanced down at her crotch.


I learned a valuable lesson that day.  Don't name your daughter Phoebe if there is any chance she may live in the Marshall Islands some day.

It wasn't long after that my roommate and I were making some couscous for dinner.  A neighbor girl, originally from the island of Pohnpei, was doing her homework at out table.  Lisa and I kept talking, but every time we said "couscous" Dixie started to giggle.  Finally, I asked her what was up.

"Oh Miss!  Couscous," giggle giggle, "it means something kind of bad in my language."  And then she giggled some more.

So, couscous.  What does it mean in Pohnpeian?  Like she said, something 'kind of bad'.  Not anything I can repeat here, being family-friendly and all.  I will let your imaginations run with that one.  But let's just say that every time I cook couscous, I giggle.

But dinner tonight?  No giggling needed.  Straight-up good.  Good for you, good tasting, and good on the wallet.  Tilapia with bell pepper and some parsley spiked couscous.


*Giggle, giggle*

Recipe from Everyday with Rachael Ray, March 2011

  Serves:  4          Prep Time:  10 minutes          Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 7.6 ounce box  couscous
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • skinless tilapia fillets (about 1 1/4 pounds), patted dry
  • lemons, cut into wedges
  • bell peppers, cut into thin strips
  • onion, thinly sliced


  1. In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups salted water to a boil; remove from the heat, stir in the couscous, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Using a fork, stir in 1/2 cup parsley, salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook, turning once, until golden-brown and just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, squeeze a wedge of lemon over each fillet and tent with foil to keep warm.
  3. Using the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the bell peppers and onion and season with salt and pepper; cook until softened and golden-brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Spoon the vegetables over the tilapia and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley. Serve with the couscous and remaining lemon wedges.

COST:  $11.12     COST PER SERVING (4): $2.78


  1. Everyting from the cost of the meal the healthiness the ingredients I just love!

    1. It kind of is perfect... yay for Rachael Ray! :)

  2. Hi friend! I love your blog, and when someone nominated me for a liebster award, I couldn't help but jump on the love train and nominate you as well. Details on my blog if you want to participate. :)

    1. Thank you so much Becky! I feel honored. I will check it out.

  3. looks amazing and great food pictures! will have to try this too.

  4. LOL. Those are both interesting stories indeed.

    I have never had couscous before and so it seems really interesting and odd for me.

  5. Hey Tiffany, I love everything about this entry - the recipe, the colors, and your cool use of this new chalkboard effect. Go you!

  6. I'am a tilapia addict and am always looking for new ways to make it. This looks great. Thank you.

  7. This looks insane...trying it for sure!
    ~Stephanie :)

  8. I need to look up what couscous means now. =) And this looks amazing! I'm a huge fan of israeli couscous (i use that same brand!), so that looks sooo good to me right now. YUM!

  9. it's always so nice when i find a blog that teachs and inpires me so much!
    Thank you!


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