Tag Archives: fish

Simple Baked Tilapia, Asparagus and Potatoes

21 May

Today’s recipe is very simple, the kind of food that I crave when I crave a home-cooked meal.  There’s something about eating out at restaurants that gets tiring.  It’s fun to try new things, but constantly eating rich and fancy and indulgent meals gets old quickly for me.  Sometimes I just want something simple.  And somehow this meal satisfies my craving for a simple, square meal.

So here’s the disclaimer: this isn’t anything wild and crazy and innovative, it’s just simple and satisfying and good (and healthy).  This is the sort of thing we eat on weeknights when we’re not feeling adventurous, so feel free just to use this as inspiration, rather than a hard-and-fast recipe.

I tend to use a lot of tilapia when I cook fish, mainly because I usually buy a big bag of the individually wrapped frozen fillets and keep them in the freezer for a quick and easy weeknight meal.  But feel free to substitute any other white fish you like (or even salmon) – you will just need to adjust the baking time depending on the thickness of the fish.


Simple Baked Tilapia with Asparagus and Baby Potatoes

Yield: 2 servings; Time: 15 min. active, 15 min. inactive

  • 1 bundle asparagus, ends trimmed off
  • 3/4 lb. baby potatoes
  • 2 tilapia filets (or other white fish)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried (or 1 teaspoon fresh) thyme
  • Fresh basil (optional)
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a pot and fill with enough water to cover, plus a teaspoon or two of salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for ~7  minutes, depending on size.  The goal is to par-boil them, not cook them all the way (and then finish the cooking in the oven).

Coat a baking dish with a layer of olive oil or cooking spray.  Place the tilapia filets in the dish and season with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, lemon juice, half the garlic and half the lemon zest (I seasoned one side and then flipped them over a few times to make sure they were well coated).

Remove half-cooked potatoes from the boiling water, allow to cool briefly, then cut into halves or quarters.  Toss potatoes and asparagus with a tablespoon or so of olive oil (just enough to coat), salt, pepper and remainder of minced garlic and lemon zest.  Place on a baking sheet.

Place the tilapia and potatoes/asparagus in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes (the fish will take 15-17 min depending on the thickness – it’s done when it flakes easily with a fork and is opaque all the way through; the potatoes/asparagus will take 13-15 minutes).

Serve immediately with fresh basil and/or diced tomato.  Make sure to pour any lemony liquid from the fish baking dish over top!

Recipe Review + An Easy Way to Cook Fish

12 Apr

Lately I haven’t had much time to come up with too many original recipes, plus I have been finding so many recipes I want to try in magazines and on Pinterest.  So I was thinking, I’d start a new sort of post here – Recipe Reviews.   I will post the recipe, a brief review of it, plus pictures of my adventures making it.  Then, like today, I’ll try to post suggestions or alterations that are possible from the recipe.

I have been meaning to write a post about easy ways to prepare fish for a while now, so the recipe for today just happened to be good timing.  The original recipe is from Everyday Food magazine  one of my personal favorites.  I always find the recipes in that magazine simple to prepare, yet flavorful and satisfying.  This recipe was no exception – with only 5 real ingredients – yet it was wonderfully flavorful (and super healthy!).  And, cooking fish in parchment paper or foil is one of my favorite techniques.  It steams the fish (and anything else you include in the foil or parchment packet, like vegetables), so it can be a really healthy way to prepare a meal relatively quickly.  I’ve shown below that I used parchment paper and foil and both worked equally as well.  I actually slightly prefer foil because 1) it’s easier to open and reclose to check if the fish is done and 2) it’s cheaper (ha – I really am frugal).

Here is the recipe, along with some additional instructions and pictures.  Below the recipe I’ve listed a few more ideas for different variations on this recipe (there must be an infinite number of combinations of fish and vegetables – so have fun with it!).

Ginger Orange Salmon in Parchment adapted slightly from Everyday Food Magazine (April 2012)

Yield: 2 servings; Time: 20 active + 20 inactive

  • 6 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 medium oranges, peeled and cut into rounds*
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin match sticks
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  On two 16″ long piece of foil or parchment paper, place the spinach, followed by the salmon, orange zest, slices, ginger and shallots.  Season all with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Form packets: fold the long ends of the foil/parchment together and make a seem, then tuck the ends underneath to secure (technique is not as crucial as making sure they are tightly closed so the steam stays contained in the packet).

Place packets on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes.

Parchment or foil – either one works!

When nearing the end of cooking time, open the packets and check to see if the salmon is cooked through, resealing and returning to the oven for a minute or two if it needs more time.  Serve immediately.

*How to peel and segment or slice oranges:

Slice off both ends of the fruit.

Then, using a sharp knife, progressively cut thin strips of skin off, taking care to remove as little of the fruit as possible:

Then, you can either slice it into rounds, or individually cut each section out from the pith.


Variations to Try:

Whether you use parchment paper or aluminum foil, the possibilities are endless for this basic recipe.  You can get by with using very little fat, but the more butter or oil you use, the more delicious the results ;-).  I especially like using compound butters (softened butter mixed with any variety of herbs, garlic and seasoning you want).  Make sure to include enough citrus slices or vegetables to provide moisture to help the fish steam, to ensure a moist result.

The type of fish you use can also be changed easily too.  Depending on the thickness and how delicate the fish is, I would recommend trying out oven temperatures between 375 and 400 degrees, with cook times between 12 and 20 minutes.  This will also depend on how much other “stuff” you include in the packets.

  • Salmon with lemon/dill butter plus julienned yellow squash and finely diced tomatoes
  • Tilapia (or sole or flounder or halibut) with lemon slices, lemon juice, butter, garlic and asparagus
  • Salmon with thinly sliced fennel or leeks, plus a little white wine, herbs and butter
  • Halibut (or other white fish) with sliced baby bok choy and carrots, with ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil

Tilapia with Avocado-Pineapple Salsa and Quinoa

6 Jan

Today I am sharing a recipe for tilapia with avocado-pineapple salsa and my adventures cooking quinoa.  Actually, it wasn’t much of an adventure, just followed the package directions, but it was my first time cooking it at home (and I will definitely be making it again!).  Trying new whole grains was one of my New Year’s resolutions  so I’m glad to have already checked one thing off my list.  

I want to share this recipe with you because it also demonstrates a very easy way to cook fish, which has been a requested topic on the blog.  Sometimes cooking fish can be intimidating, but it shouldn’t be.  Eating more fish was another one of my resolutions, and finding simple and flavorful ways to prepare it helps a lot. 

In this recipe the fish is roasted under the broiler – in and out in less than 10 minutes.  And it doesn’t even need to be flipped, so it couldn’t be easier.  I used tilapia and roasted it for about 7 minutes, which was the perfect amount of time to cook it through and get a bit of caramelization on top.  Then, I topped it with an avocado-pineapple salsa.  This is one of my go-to ways to prepare fish, and you can make endless variations.  You can use pineapple, mango, peach, nectarine, avocado, tomato or any combination of those.  Then, add lime juice, cilantro, red onion, jalapeno and some salt and pepper.  Pineapple-avocado was delicious, but tomato-nectarine is another one of my favorites. 

Tilapia with Avocado-Pineapple Salsa   adapted from Everyday Food Magazine

Time: 20 min, Yield: 2 servings

  • 1 avocado, diced (**see below for how to select, store and easily dice avocados!)
  • 1 cup pineapple , finely diced (I used canned pineapple chunks, since I didn’t want to buy a whole fresh one and it turned out great still)
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tilapia fillets (original recipe calls for halibut, but frozen tilapia was on sale – what can I say!?)
  • 1 cup quinoa, optional side
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, optional side

Preheat broiler with rack in upper third of oven.  In a medium bowl, combine the avocado, pineapple, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Coat a rimmed baking sheet with foil (optional, but it makes clean up easy!) and coat with cooking spray (try to spray only the portion of the baking sheet which will be covered with the fish – otherwise it may burn or smoke).  Season fish on both sides with salt and pepper and place on the baking sheet.

Broil the fish until opaque throughout, about 6-7 minutes, depending on thickness.  It will flake easily with a fork when ready – don’t over cook it!

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to the package directions.  Make sure to season with salt and optionally, stir in a small pat of butter at the end ;-).  Towards the end of the cooking, stir in the baby spinach to wilt.

Top the fish with the salsa and serve with a side of spinachy quinoa for a healthy, yet super satisfying, dinner!

** How to Buy, Store and Dice Avocados **

Buying & Storing: A ripe avocado gives when gently pressed, but is not mushy (mushy=on its way to rotten).  Buy them ripe if you plan to use them right away, because unripe avocados will take a few days to ripen (to speed it up you can place them in a closed brown paper bag with a banana or apple – the fruits give off ethylene gas which helps speed ripening).  Once ripe, store in the fridge until using.

Dicing: First, slice the avocado lengthwise, all the way around, then twist the halves and pull apart.  To remove the pit, give it a good whack with the blade of a knife, and twist it out.

Then, slice or dice the avocado while still in the skin:

Then scoop out the slices or dices with a spoon: