Baked Tilapia with Fennel & Dried Plums
Herb and spice-rubbed baked tilapia is served over a bed of caramelized fennel, onions, and dried plums for a quick and easy weeknight dinner and delicious way to boost your seafood intake.
This recipe originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Today’s Dietitian Magazine. I was compensated for writing the original article, “Tender Tilapia,” and developing the recipe, but I was not compensated for sharing the column or magazine with readers on my blog. All opinions are my own.
Do you get enough seafood in your diet? I ask because most people don’t. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, while average intake of total protein is close to recommendations, average intake of seafood is below recommendations for both sexes in all age groups.
The current recommendation is for people to consume at least 8 ounces of seafood per week, which doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult if you have some tuna salad for lunch one day and a piece of fish for dinner another. So why are people struggling to get in the recommended amounts?
According to recent research, many people don’t eat enough seafood because they aren’t aware of the recommendation, think they already consume the right amount, or are concerned about the cost and safety of fish.
Fish is an important part of our diets thanks to being packed with protein, B vitamins, and omega-3s, and its association with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and even obesity. Fish has also been shown to help with infant brain development, which makes it an especially important component of the diet for pregnant women and children.
Growing up, my family didn’t eat a lot of fish at home because my mother always thought it was too smelly, which I presume is one reason some people may abstain from cooking it themselves. Some people have told me they don’t cook fish because their kids won’t eat it or they don’t know how to prepare it. If you have been holding back from making fish at home for any of these reasons, this baked tilapia is the perfect recipe to change your mind.
The Ingredients & Preparation
Tilapia is one of the least expensive, easiest to prepare, and mild tasting fish that’s readily available. This Baked Tilapia with Fennel and Dried Plums was inspired by my recipe for Roasted Chicken with Fennel, Carrots, & Dried Plums, which is one of my family’s favorite chicken dinners, but usually reserved for the weekends when I have more time to cook.
I knew that the caramelized fennel, onions, and sweet dried plums would pair just as well with the mild tilapia as it did with chicken, and since fish cooks so much more quickly it would be a great weeknight meal.
The tilapia itself is coated with a paste made by mixing olive oil with dried rosemary, marjoram, and chili powder. Fennel and onions are simply tossed with olive oil and roasted before sweet and chewy dried plums are mixed in and the whole mixture is topped with the herb- and spice-rubbed fish, some lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper.
The fish is then cooked for about 15 minutes and dinner is done! Serve the Baked Tilapia with Fennel and Dried Plums on top of simply made quinoa or brown rice and dinner will be done in under an hour!
I introduced fish to my girls very early on, so they have always loved it, especially tuna, salmon, and flaky white fish like tilapia. If your kids are new to fish, you may want to pair the baked tilapia with their favorite side dishes or flake the fish and wrap it in a tortilla for fish tacos, which tend to be a favorite with most kids. But if your kids are a little more adventurous, I would make this recipe just as described below.
Want to know more about how to get your kids to eat seafood? Check out my interview at Dish on Fish!
Baked Tilapia with Fennel & Dried Plums
Herb and spice-rubbed baked tilapia is served over a bed of caramelized fennel, onions, and dried plums for a quick and easy weeknight dinner and delicious way to boost your seafood intake. Ready in under an hour, this recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free.
- Cooking spray
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillet
- 1 pound fennel bulb, quartered, cored, and sliced crosswise into thin pieces (about 3 cups)
- 2 medium onions, peeled, halved, and sliced crosswise into thin pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup chopped dried plums, prunes
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil with rosemary, marjoram, and chili powder to form a paste. Spread on tilapia fillets and set aside.
- In prepared baking dish, toss fennel and onions with remaining tablespoon olive oil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
- Stir chopped dried plums into fennel and onion mixture and place tilapia fillets on top. Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with minced garlic, salt, and pepper, to taste.
- Cover baking dish with foil and return to oven. Bake 15 minutes, until fish is cooked through. To check whether fish is done, cut into it in the middle with a fork. If it's still tough, cover and return to the oven for 2 to 5 more minutes.
- To serve, make a bed of fennel, onion, and dried plum mixture on a plate and top with fish fillet.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 4 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 430Saturated Fat: 2.5gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 290mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 8gSugar: 15gProtein: 38g
Do you eat the recommended amount of seafood?
What’s your favorite way to prepare fish?
Share with me in the comments below!
Looks delicious and I love the flavor you have packed in there! I have tilapia in the fish I might have to see how the girls like this one. We all like a lot of seafood and fish except my oldest daughter, she only likes a few.
Thanks so much Sarah! Let me know if you try the recipe with your family. Hope it’s a hit!
Oh i love fish, but no one else around me seems to be a fan, so I don’t cook it as much as I would like. Tilapia is great because it’s so versatile!
What a shame others around you don’t like fish. Maybe you can change their mind with a delicious recipe like this one 😉 My Husband is not a big fan of fish and he loved this!
I definitely don’t eat enough fish on a weekly basis but whenever we do have a seafood night it’s always fish tacos. Love all the different flavours here – especially that fennel!!
I love fish tacos too! Have a new recipe for one coming soon too 🙂 This recipe would actually go really well in a taco if you prefer it that way. Let me know if you try it!
OoOo I love the idea of using dried plums in a recipe like this! I wish my family enjoyed fish…however this momma could make this all for myself! 😉
Thanks so much Laura! I’m a big fan of the sweet and savory combos. Perhaps you can try it with the family and worst case, more for you!!
Your little angles are constantly surprising me! They are so adventurous in their eating, I love it! Fennel is one of those foods I love it on pizza but haven’t been able to venture out of it hah, this gives me a recipe to try! And I do love tilapia, so there is a plus!!!
Thanks Liz – they’re constantly surprising me too! I didn’t eat half the stuff they do when I was a kid! I’ve never tried fennel on pizza – so interesting! Hope you give this recipe a try. I’m gonna make a fish eater out of you!!
I’m always looking for a new way to enjoy seafood! Can’t wait to try this one! Love how quick and easy it is to make!
Thanks Taylor! Hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!
Congrats on the piece in Today’s Dietitian – you rock! This recipe looks awesome, I admit that I don’t cook nearly enough fish for my family as I should, but I am definitely inspired to give this recipe a try.
Thanks so much Emily! I hope you’ll give it a try and if you go I’d love to know how everyone likes it!
I love fish! We haven’t been buying it much lately due to the really high prices. I’m hoping it drops a little this year when fish season gets into high gear. For some reason it didn’t in our area this last year. I definitely want to incorporate more dishes like this into our diet!
So happy to hear you love fish! Hope the prices drop so you can make this one!
I’m fascinated by the addition of plums to this! I like that bold addition! Going to try it Jessica!
Thanks sara! Can’t wait to hear how you like it!
Just when I was struggling to figure out what to make for dinner tonight! I am so excited to try this recipe out! Yay for dinner being planned!
So glad you found it in time. Would love to hear how you like it!
I am always on the look out for recipes to get my family eating more fish. This looks like a great one to try. Thanks for sharing!
Hope they enjoy it and so do you Jodi!
I love all the different flavors you’ve got going on in this recipe! I confess to not eating that much seafood, mainly because my daughter is not a fan. I do try and order it often when we go out to eat, and I’ll sometimes cook some to eat for lunch when the kids are at school. This looks delicious!
Thanks so much EA! Has your daughter tried a variety of different fish? Maybe she will like something like this that has sweet notes from the dried plums. Hope you give it a try, even if just for yourself!
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