October 05

Garlic Butter Pesto Tilapia

I grew up eating very simple white fish. Cod. The occasional halibut. Orange roughy… which, any time I mention this fish to someone that isn’t family, they give me a weird look. As if they’ve never heard of it before. And they haven’t! I thought everyone ate it. I mean, that seemed to be the number one fish we’d have when non-fishsticks fish was being consumed. From what I understand, it’s noted as a fish “vulnerable to exploitation” and maybe that’s why you don’t see it a whole lot? Because it gets easily overfished from trawlers and the like.

This is besides the point, however. So tilapia is a fish that while it has been around forever, it seems like it didn’t hit grocery stores until recently. I don’t mean last week “recently”, but within the last 10 years. I don’t ever remember it being something my mother would put in her grocery basket; then again, when it came to the grocery store, all I remember is when the meat section would put a whole pig’s head out in sealed plastic wrap and it both frightened and intrigued me. Especially when I tried sticking my fingers in its nostrils. Yeah. I was a weird kid.

Tilapia is also a cheap fish. When I’m at any grocery store, it’s the one on sale. It’s the one you can buy in mass quantities for the same amount that a single filet of a different type of fish goes for. So it is now what I buy. For me, it tastes just like the other white fish, so why pay the inflated price for halibut or cod? Unless of course those fish end up being cheaper. Then halibut/cod it is! I’m not picky. I just want something cheap that I can dress up with every day ingredients.

And that’s exactly what I’m doing here with this recipe.

Garlic Butter Pesto Tilapia


2-4 tilapia filets
2 Tablespoons sweet cream butter
2 Tablespoons pesto
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 Tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
salt, to taste


1) Preheat oven to 400°.

2) In a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and toss in the garlic until it is fragrant. Add the pesto, lemon juice, black pepper, and salt, and mix well. Heat until bubbly.

3) Spray a glass dish with non-stick spray (I prefer olive oil + water over PAM). Arrange the tilapia so the edges are not touching. Pour melted butter mixture over top. Sprinkle panko over each filet, as much as you like.

4) Bake for 15-20 minutes.