Tilapia Piccata

In my quest to balance my growing love of cooking with the growing demands of school, I snatched up a copy of Cooking Light’s 5 Ingredient 15 Minute Recipes from this fall. I’m usually skeptical of recipes claiming minimal ingredients for rather fancy dishes because, more often than not, their “ingredients” are prepared store-bought shortcuts – Sandra Lee style. Now I don’t mean to offend anyone; semi-home made is better than fast food or takeout any day when you are faced with only thirty minutes to feed your family. My personal goal though is not only to feed myself, but to improve my cooking skills in the process. Therefore convenient shortcuts like using store-bought white sauce or frozen patties really won’t help me any. I’m trying to find recipes that use a minimal number of unprocessed ingredients to make simple but delicious dishes. Luckily, I found one.

Now, I suppose you could debate whether or not capers count as a “processed food”. I did not pick and pickle the berries myself (by the way, did you know how beautiful caper flowers are?? I had no idea), so I guess I cheated a bit there. You’ll have to forgive me. 😉 Overall I was very impressed with this and other recipes I found in the magazine and how many of them use only raw ingredients. You’ll see more of them in the future for sure.

Tilapia Piccata (adapted from 5 Ingredient 15 Minute Recipes, Fall ’10)


½   lb   angel hair pasta

2    6-oz tilapia fillets (or other white fish)

1     T   EVOO, plus a teaspoon or so

¼   t   salt

¼   t   freshly ground black pepper

½   C   dry white wine

2     T   fresh lemon juice, reserve a few slices of lemon

2     T   capers

2     T   chopped fresh herbs (like parsley or thyme)


  1. Heat the 1 Tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. While pan is heating, season fillets with salt and pepper. Add fillets to pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until slightly browned and cooked through. Remove fish from pan and keep warm.
  2. As fish is cooking, bring a large sauce pot of lightly salted water to boil and add pasta. Every few minutes, test pasta for doneness as light pasta such as angel hair cooks quite fast. Strain pasta when it tastes ever-so-slightly under-cooked. Place pasta in a bowl, toss with a teaspoon or so of EVOO, and set aside. As long as you don’t rinse with cold water it will continue cooking to al dente.
  3. Add wine and juice to fish pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for a few minutes or until slightly thickened, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
  4. Stir in capers and herbs and remove from heat. Plate pasta, overlay the fish, and spoon sauce over the whole dish. Garnish with a few slices of lemon and enjoy with the left-over wine. 🙂

Beezer’s Notes:

This dinner was one of the best I’ve cooked for myself in a long time. It’s healthy, quick, and easy! I’m trying to work more fish into my diet so this twist on a dish traditionally made with chicken was a tasty choice.

The source recipe called for snapper, but since I already had tilapia in the freezer I didn’t think twice about subbing it in. I’ve never had snapper, but I’m guessing it is slightly more meaty than tilapia and maybe has a bit more flavor. I think any white fish will work great in this recipe, so use what you prefer. Also, for the same amount of sauce the source recipe called for 4 of the 6-oz. fish fillets. I was cooking only for myself so I used 2 fillets without reducing anything else, making enough for dinner plus one leftover meal. I found that amount of sauce to be absolutely perfect for 2 fillets and my pasta. I may just like more sauce than normal, but since the flavor is so light I feel like it’s almost necessary. Try it out and tell me what you think!

Overall Enjoyment: ♥    ♥    ♥

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