There’s nothing like fresh fish cooked to perfection, topped with cool cucumber sauce. Summer’s got me craving this Pan Fried Tilapia with Cucumber Dill Sauce like no other!
I can’t get over how stinking adorable Emry is going off to kindergarten each day. She is just the darndest cutest, most precious little 5 year old I ever did see.
I wish I could be a fly on the wall so I could observe what she is like in her classroom. At home, she is a hurricane, a tornado, a tropical storm of never-ending talk, talk, talk, talk, TALK!!! But in front of others, she plays this shy game until she has some time to warm up.
Braelyn is the complete and udder opposite. She came home from school the first day raving about all the friends she had made. She apparently has so many friends now that she can’t even decide which one is her best friend…well besides her lifelong bestie that lives up in Gilbert and her longtime “boyfriend” that lives about 20 minutes away. They can never be replaced.
Emry, on the other hand, still can’t tell me the name of a single kid in her class. I asked her yesterday what she did for recess, she replied with a simple, “I played.” I was ecstatic and inquired which friend she played with. She irritably announced, “By myself! I slide by myself!”
Oh boy. We may need to have a friendship lesson with this child. She just likes to beat to her own drum. She does exactly what she wants to do when she wants to do it. If she wants to play, she plays. If she wants to talk, she talks. If she wants to eat, she eats. If she wants to answer a question, she’ll answer a question. Sometimes I can’t quite figure her out.
But seriously, this school thing is cracking me up. She hops off the bus each afternoon looking like she’s been put through the ringer. Her face is red from riding in the heat of the afternoon, she is exhausted from being forced to learn actual academics, and she is hungry. Always hungry. There is nothing more important in life to this child than food.
Emry about died of delight over the dinner I made two nights ago. It was probably one of her favorite meals ever. She loved it so much that she even requested I pack it for lunch the next day. Even after reminding her that there is no microwave at school and she would have to eat it cold, she insisted that I send it with her.
Upon exiting the bus that afternoon, before I could even ask about her day, she blurted out, “You’re right, the chicken is better warm!” Following that phrase, she requested that we return home right away so I could heat up her lunch. I was dying. I could hardly stop laughing.
One of the funniest parts is that this so called “chicken” she spoke of wasn’t even chicken at all. It was fish. And we told her about a million times that it was fish. The stellar dinner that she demanded that day for lunch was actually Pan Fried Tilapia with Cucumber Dill Sauce. But call it what you want, either way it was knock your socks off delicious!
This meal, just like the majority of my meals, came completely on a whim. I had no idea what we were having for dinner. I just started cooking and seasoning, and by golly, I nailed it with this one!
It all started with Costco. I bought enough tilapia to feed an army and a large carton of grape tomatoes. I also purchased this blend of quick cooking brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and bulgur. So that’s where it all started: fish, rice, and tomatoes.
I had some fresh dill and Greek yogurt in my pantry that needed to be used, so I immediately thought of a tzatziki type sauce. Wouldn’t a cool cucumber sauce be stellar over some warm, pan fried tilapia??? YASSS!!!
And to use up the tomatoes, I thought I would add another element of a warm vegetable ragu. This ragu is legit. I deglazed the pan that I cooked the fish in with some white wine and added the veggies so they could soak up all that leftover flavor. It was a good choice indeed.
I just can’t get over how lovely the pairing was between the hearty brown rice, the flaky fish, the juicy ragu, and the cool tangy cucumber sauce. It was definitely what people refer to as a “party in your mouth!”
So the next time you’re looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal that is as equally healthy as it is impressive, give this fish dinner a try. You’ll be happy you did.
Do you have any kids back in school?
- For the fish:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1¼ pounds tilapia filets (about 3-4)
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- For the ragu:
- 1 small onion, diced
- 8 oz. package sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup quartered grape tomatoes (or tomato medley)
- ¼ cup white cooking wine
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- For the cucumber sauce:
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- ⅓ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- 1½ teaspoons freshly chopped dill
- ⅔ cup peeled and diced cucumber (about ½ a medium cucumber)
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- Prepare sauce by peeling and chopping cucumber. In a small mixing bowl, combine sour cream, yogurt, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon juice, and dill. Stir to combine. Add cucumber and stir until coated. Cover and chill in fridge while making remainder of the meal.
- In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Generously season both sides of fish with salt and pepper (about ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper total). Once pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles, place fish in an even layer in pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on thickness, until just cooked through.
- While fish is cooking, chop veggies for the ragu. Dice onion and quarter tomatoes. Once fish is done cooking, transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Immediately place onion and mushrooms into pan. Add white wine to deglaze the pan. Stir veggies until browned bits on the bottom of the pan have released. Season with salt and pepper (about ⅛ teaspoon salt and 3-4 shakes of pepper). Cook for 5-6 minutes until liquid is reduced and onion is beginning to brown. Add tomatoes and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed.
- To assemble plates, place a scoop of rice in a bowl, top with fish, then tomato ragu, and then a spoonful of cucumber dill sauce.