One of the reasons I choose tilapia for dinner is that its mild flavor is so versatile. I’ve kept it simple here, but you know what they say about how simple is often best. In this version, new potatoes cook up crispy/brown on the outside and fluffy tender on the inside while the fish is brushed with a pesto mayonnaise and flash roasted in a hot oven. The mayo keeps the fish moist and also acts as a dipping sauce for the potatoes. Versatility never tasted so good.
It’s that easy: Mincing basil is generally a no-no as all that chopping breaks the tender leaf down to mush. But in this recipe it’s added like a pesto to the mayonnaise. I avoid using a food processor on weekdays (because I’d have to wash it), so just combine the hand chopped pesto, lemon and Parmesan with the mayo and voilà… deconstructed pesto mayonnaise.
Flash Roasted Tilapia with New Potatoes, Peas and Pesto Mayonnaise
Hands on time: 20 minutes
Start to finish: 40 minutes
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 new potatoes, each sliced into 8 pieces lengthwise
- 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more for sprinkling
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup minced fresh basil
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 cup frozen peas, no need to thaw them
- 1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets
- Preheat oven to 425ºF
- Slice the potatoes, chop the garlic, mince the basil and grate the Parmesan on a large cutting board in separate piles. Measure out the pine nuts and peas separately. Combine the mayonnaise and lemon juice in a small bowl.
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry 12-inch frying pan over medium heat, tossing the nuts so that they don’t burn, for about 3 minutes. Once they are lightly browned turn them out onto a plate to cool.
- Return the frying pan to medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When it shimmers add the potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Don’t stir the potatoes for the first 3 minutes, then scrape up the browned pieces with a thin edged spatula and flip them over to brown the other side for 2 minutes. Sprinkle over the garlic, transfer the pan to the oven and roast the potatoes for 15 minutes or until they’re almost tender.
- While the potatoes roast, make the sauce: Combine the basil, Parmesan, mayonnaise and lemon and mix it well. It won’t need any salt (because the Parmesan is salty), but pepper if you like.
- Pat the fish dry with paper towels and salt and pepper the filets. Spread a few tablespoons of the pesto mayonnaise over the top of the fish. . Remove the pan of potatoes from the oven and sprinkle over the frozen peas. Top with the fish and return it to the oven for 12 minutes or until the fish is cooked and flakes easily with a fork and the potatoes and peas are tender.
- Serve the fish and potatoes on heated plates and sprinkle the tops with the toasted pine nuts and a dollop extra pesto mayonnaise for dipping on the side.
Variation: Tilapia is pretty easy to find, but if there are some beautiful redfish, orange roughy or haddock filets in the case, go for it. Always choose the freshest most appealing fish in the case.
Extra Hungry? A salad of leaf lettuce and sun-dried tomatoes with a splash of white wine vinegar a glug of olive oil and a few shavings of Parmesan sounds like a nice addition to this meal.
By the glass: Look for a Pinot Blanc (Chardonnay’s cousin) from California based Michel-Schlumberger Winery. Bright and racy with crisp apple and lots of fruit, this bottle would pair well with seafood or poultry.
Click here to print this page | Recipe created by Carla Snyder
Recipe Created by Carla Snyder
Carla has spent the past 30 years in the food world as a caterer, artisan baker, cooking school teacher, food writer and author of 6 cook books including the James Beard nominated Big Book of Appetizers. Her passion is sharing fresh, cooked-from-scratch weeknight meals that cut prep time and practically eliminate that nightly sink-full of dishes. Look for Carla on Facebook, Twitter (carlacooks), Pinterest and at ravenouskitchen.com where she blogs about everything from cooking for two to easy weekend entertaining for a crowd.