Posted by Megan | Budget & Quick, Dinner, Meat, Quick, Seafood

Saturday night we had some friends over for some traditional Irish fare. I made Irish Soda Bread and Guinness Cake and Will made a beef, barley and potato stew. These are all things we have made before with increasing success, so there’s not much to say other than it was good!

Now last night was a different story. I got brave. Real brave. I made a parmesan tilapia dish that I found on Pinterest, green beans, and couscous. Now what made this venture so exciting was timing. I had to create the tomato and garlic sauce and get it simmering for fifteen minutes. At the same time, I also had to boil water for my green beans and some macaroni pasta I needed for making macaroni salad after dinner. So I had one pan going with simmering sauce, two pots boiling water, and one pan sitting at the ready for the tilapia. While this was all going on, I had to make bread crumbs from bread Will and I had made earlier in the day (read: just buy the can of premade bread crumbs, do not try creating your own), plus finish thawing the tilapia in warm water, and then prep it in the flour and egg before dipping it in the bread crumb mixture. Oh yeah, did I mention I had sauce simmering that kept trying to boil? Oh and then my pots of water started boiling at different times, so I had three timers going (at this point I realized I should have just made the pasta later). A timer goes off! What’s done? The sauce! Not good since it was supposed to coincide with the timing of the tilapia being done. And oh by the way, the tilapia’s not even floured yet.

Turn the sauce burner off. Still bubbling-forget it! Stir pasta, wait for green beans to start boiling again. Dip tilapia in flour. Stir pasta, stir sauce, look at green beans (boil damn it!), dip other tilapia in flour, dip both tilapias in egg. Stir pasta, yay green beans are boiling! Time to cover and simmer. Sauce has stopped bubbling but looks like a smaller quantity than before? Eh, fix it later. Put tilapia in bread mixture. Not sticking. Grrr. Pasta’s done. Throw pasta in strainer. Some goes in sink. Crap. Oh well. Back to tilapia. Now the green beans are trying to bubble over. Not cool. Lower temperature. Turn on pan for tilapia and put in some olive oil. Will’s home-oh no! Bread tilapia, throw in pan, let sizzle. Phew! Green beans are done. Time to drain. Boil some water and put in couscous for five minutes. Put pasta in fridge, green beans on plate, flip tilapia.

Basically, it was chaos but it turned out really good. Really really good. I was quite surprised at my success, especially since I definitely did not have things under any semblance of control!

Parmesan Crust Tilapia with Tomato Basil Cream Sauce (adapted from Life’s Ambrosia; serves 2)
3 tbsps olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup cream
Handful of fresh basil leaves
2 tilapia fillets
Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp granulated garlic (or garlic powder, in my case)


Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and add cream. Let simmer for 15 minutes (it’s okay to let it boil a little). Sauce will turn slightly pink and coat the back of the spoon.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsps of olive oil in a large skillet. Rinse and pat dry the tilapia fillets. Season both sides with salt and pepper. In a separate dish, combine Parmesan, breadcrumbs and garlic powder. In another dish, prepare flour for tilapia. Lastly, beat egg in yet another dish. Dredge the tilapia fillets in the flour, then in the egg, then in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on the heated skillet and cook 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown and flakey.

At last minute, stir minced basil into sauce. Serve fish on plate with sauce spooned over the top.

Recipe: Life’s Ambrosia: Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

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