Family-Night Tilapia Salad Nicoise

Miss Busy-Pants Lauren left for Tanzania last Friday. (I wish my firm would send ME somewhere—not likely.) Though the house is sooo empty and lonely without her, it makes me happy to know she is there, working her little heart out for the good of others. (Awww—let’s all hold hands <3)

Anyway, it’s been a while since we all sat down together as a family. (Mostly because L. and M. are STILL madly in love with their boyfriends and are super busy being obsessed and in love—Lucky.) So a sit-down meal was long overdue.

Lauren and Melita put me in charge of deciding the menu this time. Naturally, the first thing I did was go to Tastespotting for some inspiration. Once there, I stumbled upon a gorgeous photo and recipe for a salmon salad nicoise from Molly at Organic Spark. Though I didn’t end up following the recipe at all, it was the idea of a tangy apricot dressing drizzled over mixed greens, grape tomatoes, shaved red onions and ghee-baked salmon that totally won me over.

Using Molly’s inspiring photo, I came up with a recipe for a pan-fried tilapia salad nicoise. (My original plan was to use salmon, but we’re all independent women on a budget right now.) The tilapia I prepared the way my mom typically does it—coating the fish with a flour-salt-pepper-lemon-pepper mixture and then pan-frying it in olive oil, lemon and a small bit of butter at the end; I prepped the vegetables; and L. and M. did the arranging. For the final ta-da factor,  I crumbled a little Gorgonzola on top.

To accompany our healthy salad, we served a Shiraz (Trader Joe’s $2-buck-Chuck variety, actually), cheese (aged Gouda and Gorgonzola) and gluten-free crackers. (What a trippy, stereotypical California “I-eat-only-organic-and-don’t-eat-meat” chick dinner this is.)

Cute family, yummy food.  Makes me sooo happy! (^_^)


Tilapia Salad Nicoise (inspired by a photo and recipe found on Organic Spark)

Serves 4.



3 largish Tilapia fillets, defrosted (We used the frozen 3-in-a-pack from Trader Joe’s.)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp lemon-pepper

olive oil, for frying

a little butter


4 hard-boiled eggs, halved

the leaves of 2 romaine hearts, prepped and torn

3 roma tomatoes, cut into wedges

1/2 red onion, sliced thinly

1 large handful haricot vert, blanched and then plunged into a bowl of ice water (I used regular green beans, which I halved.)

kalamata olives


optional toppings: Gorgonzola or goat’s cheese, little red potatoes, marinated red peppers, etc.


1/2 clove fresh garlic, minced then mashed with the side of your knife

1 tbsp fresh white onion, minced then mashed with the side of your knife

1/3-1/2 cup white wine vinegar

scant 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

the juice of 1/2 a lemon

coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Prepare the dressing: In a small bowl, combine and whisk together all ingredients. Set aside to marinate.
  2. Prep the vegetables for the salad. Lay the lettuce first, then arrange the remaining items on top in their own section. Leave space for the fish. 1 tbsp capers and 3-4 olives should suffice for each person.
  3. Prepare the fish: On a plate, mix together flour, salt, pepper and lemon-pepper. Set aside.
  4. Pre-heat a non-stick skillet to medium-high heat. While the pan is heating, pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels.
  5. Once the pan is hot, coat the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil (about 2 tbsp). Quickly dredge both sides of the fish fillets into the flour mixture and place into the hot pan. Allow to brown on each side for about 2 minutes. (Be careful not to overcook.)
  6. Once cooked just through, reduce the heat to low. Put a very small dollop (maybe 1/4 tsp) of butter into the pan and then squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Allow the liquid to cook and reduce for about 30 seconds.
  7. Place a fish fillet on each salad plate (I preferred to flake it first). Top with a little crumbled Gorgonzola and then drizzle the dressing over each.
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