Dec 29, 2012

Tilapia with Fennel and Tomatoes in ONE Pan

At the end of every year I have what I call appreciation meal. It’s just a night for me to have my parents over and I make them and Jor a meal to say thank you for everything they have done throughout the long months of juggling school and work. The truth is, without them I would be a basket case for sure, my stress level, while pretty high always, would be out the roof and I’m pretty sure I would not have accomplished what I did this year with half the grace if it were not for their constant support. Dinner is only a small token to say thank you but it’s become a tradition these past few years and one that I look forward to near the holidays. Each year I’ve chosen a little something different for dinner and this year I went with a fish. And not just any fish meal, but a one pot meal! This was wonderful because it allowed me to talk to everyone a little bit more, rather than being trapped in the kitchen the whole time and it made clean up pretty darn easy!

Here is what you need:


(Adapted from Melissa d’Arabian. Serves 4 dinner portions.)

  • 4 medium Tilapia fish fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, cored, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 vine tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 4 small slices of butter
  • salt and pepper

(Preheat oven to 400 degrees). To start, thinly slice your onion and fennel bulbs. Halve the onion and cut it into half moon shapes. For the fennel bulbs, be sure to give them a good rinse, half them and then take the inner core out. That is a little more tough than the rest of the bulb. Slice the bulbs in the same way you do the onion. Heat up the olive oil in a very large pan that you can transfer to the oven and add the onions and fennel.

Saute the fennel and onions for about 8 to 10 minutes or until they begin to soften and the onion looses it’s color. Then add in your slices of tomatoes and the herbes de Provence.

The tomatoes will only need a few minutes, about five, to cook down and soften. You can then increase the heat to medium/high and pour in the chicken broth, white wine and the juice from half of a lemon. These liquids will deglaze the pan.

While you let this mixture bubble for just a minute or two, pat your fish fillets dry and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the fish. Add the fish to the pan and snuggle them in with the veggies and liquid. You don’t want them all the way to the bottom but you also don’t want them floating on top of everything. Once you have the fish settled, place a very thin tab of butter on top of each fish fillet.

Transfer the pan to the oven and let it cook for 8 to 10 minutes. The fish is cooked through when it turns white and you can flake it with a fork. Take the pan out of the oven and I recommend keeping a towel, potholder, etc. on the handle of your pan so you remember it is HOT! I’ve forgotten this a few times! If you want, you can squeeze a bit more lemon juice on top of everything for one last bit of added flavor.

I paired this with some rice cooked in the oven, a fresh salad with toasted pecans and cherry tomatoes and some homemade bread sticks. It was a hit and as the hostess for this small get together, the one pan dish could not have been much easier or faster! I wasn’t stuck in the kitchen the whole night nor did I feel like I was running around frantically trying to coordinate several dishes. While this is a perfect dish for you to serve for a small dinner gathering, it is also one of those dishes you should keep on your list for the weeknights where you might need something fast but it certainly won’t taste like anything out of the box or a freezer meal! For now, that’s tilapia with fennel and tomatoes in one pan…in the shell of a nut!

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