I’ve been really into simple tomato sauces lately. You really don’t have to add much to tomatoes to make a really mouth watering sauce.
I bought a big pack of frozen tilapia filets a while ago and I really needed to start using them up, so I decided to give them the tomato sauce treatment. The result? YUMMM! I wanted to eat all four! The tomato sauce not only added a ton of flavor, but it kept the tilapia super moist and tender while it baked.
For this tomato sauce I went with a classic garlic, oregano, lemon blend and it was flavorful, but light enough to not drown out the tilapia. I decided to bake it in my cast iron skillet purely for the sake of the photograph (white fish against black skillet = good), otherwise I would have just used a glass or ceramic casserole dish. I’m guessing the cast iron skillet took a while longer to heat up in the oven than a glass dish would, so if you’re using glass or ceramic you might find that you need to shorten the baking time a bit. Fish cooks quickly, so when you start to see the juices bubbling throughout (not just around the edges), it’s probably done.
Admittedly, these servings are not huge, so I suggest serving the fish over rice and adding some green vegetables on the side (broccoli, spinach, asparagus, zucchini, something like that). Super healthy, super delicious.
Baked Tilapia with Tomatoes
- 4 (4 oz.) tilapia filets $3.33**
- 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes $0.69
- 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
- 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
- ½ tsp dried oregano $0.05
- ¼ tsp salt $0.02
- Freshly cracked pepper (10-15 cranks of a mill) $0.05
- ½ Tbsp lemon juice $0.03
- Handful of parsley for garnish (optional) $0.15
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If the tilapia is frozen, thaw it prior to beginning.
- Drain the excess liquid from the can of tomatoes (no need to squeeze it dry, just pour off the excess). Combine the tomatoes, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Stir well.
- Add a small amount of the tomato mixture to the bottom of a small casserole dish or oven safe skillet. Arrange the tilapia filets in a single layer in the dish, then top with the rest of the tomato mixture.
- Bake the tilapia in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes**, or until the juices are bubbling all around the fish (not just on the very outer edges). Roughly chop the parsley and sprinkle it over the fish just before serving.
**Cooking time will depend on the thickness and material of your baking dish. Heavy or thick vessels, like cast iron, will require a longer cooking time.
Step by Step Photos
One day when I was all like, “HEALTHY!” I bought this huge bag of individually frozen tilapia filets, but then never used them. It was $9.99 for a bag of 12 filets. Not bad. Each filet is about 4 oz. and I used one filet per serving (four filets total). They thaw quickly, but if you forget to take them out of the freezer, you can place them in a colander and run cool water over them for a few minutes. They’re individually sealed, so the water won’t get in. Also, begin preheating the oven to 350 degrees.
Pour off the excess liquid from the tomatoes (no need to squeeze them dry, just get rid of the extra liquid), then add them to a bowl with 2 cloves of minced garlic, 2 Tbs olive oil, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, and some freshly cracked pepper. Stir the mixture well.
Add a couple spoonfulls of the tomato mixture to the bottom of your cooking dish (glass, ceramic, or cast iron casserole dishes). This will put a thin layer between the fish and the dish so that it doesn’t stick and it will flavor the fish from the bottom up.
Next, arrange the filets in the dish in a single layer.
Then pour the rest of the tomato mixture over top. Try to cover the fish as much as possible. Bake the fish in the preheated 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of your dish. This cast iron skillet is really heavy and takes a long time to heat up, so I baked for 30 minutes. A thinner glass dish would probably take closer to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the dish and watch for the juices to start bubbling up throughout (not just around the outer edges). When that happens, it’s probably finished.
Add some roughly chopped parsley just before serving. I suggest serving over some rice to soak up the delicious juices, although you could also dip some crusty bread in there!
Look how flakey and moist the fish is! Perfect! So much flavor, too.