Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tilapia with Couscous

Otherwise known as one of the easiest and most versatile meals in my repertoire - there are so many substitutions you can make, just use what's in your pantry! See the end of this post for some variations.

This is one of those recipes that can feed a crowd, doesn't cost too much, and can be prepped ahead of time. It's a great meal to make for a family in need of support (say, during an illness or after a death) because all they have to do is add water, put it in the oven for half an hour, and they have a fresh, delicious meal.

  • 2 lbs tilapia filets (fresh or frozen, just thaw the filets ahead of time if you buy frozen)
  • 10 oz couscous
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (packed in a bag or in oil)
  • 1 Tbs cumin
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 lemons (use 1/2 lemon for its juice, thinly slice the other 1+1/2)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley or cilantro for garnish

*Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 

1. In a medium bowl, combine the couscous, almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice until the mixture is evenly coated (if I buy sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, I use some of the oil from the jar to give the couscous a little more flavor).

2. Drizzle a little oil in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, and arrange the tilapia filets in one layer (I overlap the thinner half of each filet onto the thicker half of the one next to it). Drizzle a little more oil on the fish, if desired, and season with salt and pepper.

3. Cover the tilapia with the couscous mixture, then arrange lemon slices over the surface of the couscous. Pour 2+1/2 cups water over the mixture, making sure all the couscous gets wet. 

4. Cover the pan with foil, then bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the couscous has absorbed all the water and the tilapia is opaque.

To serve,  just dig in - make sure each plate gets some fish and a good pile of couscous, then garnish with some chopped parsley or cilantro. Last night we served ours with some flatbread I made last week. Another good accompaniment is Sweet Citrus Brussels Sprouts or Garlic-y Kale. Yum!

If you want to make this meal for a potluck or to give to a family in need, follow all the steps above, but stop before adding the 2+1/2 cups water. Cover the pan with foil and keep chilled until it gets to its destination. Then just add the water and put it in the oven when it's time for dinner. Easy peezy!

  • Can't find tilapia? Some other white fish on sale? No problem! You could use any flaky white fish with this. Just ask the person at the fish counter what they would recommend as a substitute. Be aware, you may need to adjust the cooking time a tad.
  • You can trade out the sun-dried tomatoes for any dried fruit you have on hand. I love this dish with chopped dried apricots.
  • Experiment with spices! Last night I used a tablespoon of Penzey's Singapore spice blend from my sister-in-law (thanks, Caroline!) and an additional tsp of cumin. You could also try chili powder or paprika for a little kick or ground cloves and cinnamon to warm it up a bit.
  • You could also try swapping out the lemon slices for orange slices, if that's more up your flavor alley. With orange slices, I would switch out the sun-dried tomatoes for dried cranberries or cherries.
  • And of course, you could omit the almonds for a nut-free version.
  • I've been wanting to try this with quinoa instead of couscous for a gluten-free version, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. So if you're brave you could try it - I'm just warning you that I can't guarantee results since I've never done it!


  1. This was a hit at the Meserole house last night!!! Jack ate his entire helping. Thanks for the rec. (I shaved some carrots into the couscous mixture for some veggies and color. I think it went nicely ;)). Xo

    1. Yay! So glad you (and the kids) liked it.