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Pan-Seared Tilapia with Kale and Lemon Vinaigrette (Photo © Stephen Peck)

Pan-Seared Tilapia with Kale and Lemon Vinaigrette

Sustainable Seafood Recipe

Lightly cooked kale combined with red onions and creamy, tangy goat cheese makes a savory bed for quickly sautéed tilapia fillets. A sprightly vinaigrette flavors the kale and the fish. Serve roasted, halved fingerling potatoes alongside. For dessert, offer fresh berry shortcakes.

U.S.-farmed tilapia is a Seafood Watch "Best Choice." We recommend that you "Avoid" farmed tilapia from China and Taiwan, where pollution and weak management are widespread problems.

  • (Serves 4)

Lemon-shallot vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fish and Kale
  • 1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, cut in half and then sliced into very thin strips
  • 2 bunches kale, stems removed, leaves cut into very thin strips (about 6 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano, or 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, plus additional chopped fresh oregano for garnish (optional)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled soft fresh goat cheese


For the Vinaigrette

Combine the lemon juice, shallots and zest in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Add the sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the Fish

Preheat the oven to 200ºF. If the tilapia fillets have two lobes, cut them apart. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a large cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and pour in enough oil to cover the bottom. Working in batches, add the fish to the skillet without crowding, and cook until just cooked through. (The fish will feel resilient to the touch and be opaque in the center when cut with a small knife.) This will require 2 to 3 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Transfer the cooked fish to a large, rimmed baking sheet and squeeze lemon juice on top. Cover loosely with foil and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining fish.

For the Kale

Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the same skillet, over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the kale and stir to coat with the oil. Add the oregano and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the kale has wilted and softened slightly, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the goat cheese and stir until incorporated. Whisk the vinaigrette to blend, then spoon 2 tablespoons over the kale and toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide the kale mixture among four warmed plates. Divide the fish among the plates, arranging atop the kale. Drizzle the fish with vinaigrette, sprinkle with additional fresh oregano and serve immediately.

Myra Goodman and Sarah LaCasse


Myra Goodman and Sarah LaCasse
Earthbound Farm,
Carmel Valley, CA

Best Choice Tilapia

U.S.-farmed Tilapia

Your "Best Choice" is tilapia grown in the U.S. in environmentally friendly systems. Tilapia from South America is a "Good Alternative." We recommend that you "Avoid" farmed tilapia from China and Taiwan, where pollution and weak management are widespread problems.
iPhone Our app brings you up-to-date recommendations for ocean-friendly seafood and sushi. And the newest version, with Project FishMap, lets you share the locations of restaurants and markets where you've found sustainable seafood. As the map grows, you'll also be able to see what others have found near you.

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