I seem to be making a virtual trip around the Mediterranean. This week, instead of Israel, we’ve “landed” in Greece. This recipe for Greek fish with lemon and tomatoes is adapted from a recipe in The New York Times.
The Times recipe is good, but a bit too fiddly and time consuming. It also requires a whole fish. That’s generally too much food for one person. And, it has to be cleaned, then stuffed, and finally baked. Probably delicious, but too much trouble. So, I decided to make it easier and faster and used fish fillets instead.
Plus, the original recipe requires that you cook the tomatoes. I love fresh tomatoes, and tomato sauces, but don’t like the taste of freshly-cooked tomatoes. So, I simplified everything and added the tomatoes just at the end.
In my version, you make the marinade, leave out the tomatoes, and let it sit for a bit so the flavors combine. Then season the fish fillet, pour the marinade over it, and cook it. Add the tomatoes at the end, and serve. Also, I didn’t make it in the oven (too hot!). I grilled the fish in a pan instead.
A fast and healthy tilapia recipe with lemon and tomatoes.
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
generous pinch of hot pepper flakes or 1/4 tsp chopped fresh jalapeño
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound fish fillet (like tilapia or cod)
1/4 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to season the fish
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (or use cherry tomatoes and slice them in half)
Combine the olive oil with the lemon juice, hot pepper, oregano, garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl or a ziplock plastic bag.
Let the marinade sit for 15 or 20 minutes.
Season the fish with salt, pepper, and thyme.
Add the fish and the marinade to a small frying pan and cook, about four minutes per side.
When the fish is almost cooked, pour in the chopped tomatoes. Leave them in for two or three seconds, just to get them warmed up slightly.
The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.
Remove fish with a flexible spatula and serve.
Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes Substitutions and Variations
Follow this suggestion from the comments of the original recipe: fry the fish for a minute or two with olive oil. Then add the marinade, a splash or two of white wine, and simmer (covered) for 5-10 minutes.
If you don’t mind cooked tomatoes, add them to the marinade at the beginning.
Try cod instead of tilapia. Or, use a small whole trout.
If you want more lemon flavor, slice some lemon and squeeze it over the fish.
Add some olives or capers to the marinade.
Add 1/4 C sliced zucchini to the pan when you start cooking the fish.
This single serving of pan-fried tilapia with lemon butter sauce is quick, easy, and delicious. I was never a big fish fan growing up, but I’ve grown to like it as I have gotten older. If you’re a bit wary of fish, tilapia is a good “starter fish.” It has a mild flavor and doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds (or your kitchen).
I got the idea from someone who said she made tilapia with butter, lemon, and rosemary. I thought that sounded good, but that it would be even better with some olive oil and mustard powder (it was).
You can put the whole thing together and have dinner on the table in less than fifteen minutes. Make the fish, steam (or zap) some veggies and you’re good to go.
I made this recently (just as spring is finally showing signs of arriving, after a truly nasty winter), but it would be great in the summer when you want something fast. There’s no need to heat the stove or the oven for an hour.
By the way, the fish came from Trader Joe’s. They have great frozen fish. The tilapia was in a package with individually-wrapped fillets. Normally, I don’t like extra packaging, but in this case it was perfect, since I only had to defrost one fillet, instead of the entire bag.
A quick fish dinner for one with lemon, a bit of mustard, and rosemary.
1 T olive oil
1 tsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch dried rosemary
1 pinch mustard powder
1 tilapia filet
healthy squeeze lemon juice (preferably fresh)
Heat the olive oil and the butter in a small frying pan. Season the fish with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the tilapia with the mustard and rosemary on both sides. Add it to the pan. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish. Cook until done, about 3-4 minutes per side (depending on how thick the fish fillet is). It should be lightly colored, but no longer pink.
Serve immediately, before the fish gets cold. I steamed some Trader Joe's string frozen beans and cut up some fresh carrots to serve with it. I felt so healthy and virtuous.
Substitutions and Variations for Pan-Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce
If you don’t have tilapia, use another mild, white fish such as cod, flounder, or Dover sole
Swap the rosemary for some capers
Skip the mustard and the rosemary and use dill instead