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Parmesan Tilapia & Asparagus in Balsamic Butter Sauce

This is one of my favorite recipes for 2 reasons:

1.  It’s VERY simple to make.

2.  It doesn’t look or taste very simple to make.

It’s not like it looks fancy or anything – in fact when I make it, it looks quite sloppy – but put it in a fancy restaurant-style dish and slap some fresh parsley on top, and you have a meal fit for company.

For those of you who might not know, tilapia is a white-looking fish.  It can be semi-fishy tasting (but not too bad), but this recipe covers that “fishyness” right up.  I highly encourage you to try it if you’ve never had it.

I made it a couple of nights ago because I happened to have some frozen tilapia fillets and all of the other ingredients on-hand.  I also had some leftover asparagus from this recipe, so I decided to make one of my favorite side-dishes to go with the fish.

Here is the link to the original tilapia recipe.

Here is the link to the original asparagus recipe.

First, I thawed my tilapia fillets in the sink under running water.

Actually, first I poured a glass of wine.  I always cook with wine – sometimes I even use it in the recipe.  (Ha! No, I can’t take credit for that… heard it somewhere.)

While that was happening, I got the asparagus baking.

1.  Preheat your oven to 400-degrees F.

2.  Rinse your asparagus and clip off the fat, woody ends.

3.  Spray a cooking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and spread your asparagus evenly onto the sheet.  Spray cooking spray over the top.

Balsamic Asparagus
Asparagus with Balsamic Butter

4.  Generously season with salt and pepper.  Just go for it!

I keep my kosher salt in a small, covered container next to the stove for easy access.

Okay, I might have gone a tad overboard with the seasoning…

5.  When the oven is preheated, just pop ’em on in on a middle rack.  Let ’em bake for about 10 minutes.  They should be somewhat floppy, but to me they’re good if they retain a bit of a snap.  You just don’t want them too tough.

While your asparagus is baking, you can start working on your Parmesan sauce for the tilapia.

By the way, I make these recipes so often that they’ve ended up in my “special” cookbook.  It was a gift from my sister.

Kate's Cookbook

Okay back to the Parmesan sauce.  I didn’t halve the recipe for the sauce, even though I probably only used 1 lb. of fish (the recipe calls for 2 lbs.).  What I’m trying to say is, doubling the sauce is perfect.

You will need:

  • 1/2 c. Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 c. Butter, softened (softened – not melted! ~10 seconds in the microwave worked for me)
  • 3 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 tsp. Dried Basil (I used fresh from the garden)
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1/8 tsp. Celery Salt

The pepper was feeling anti-social.

All you need to do is measure this stuff out and mix it in with your softened butter.

Then realize your bowl is too small and switch to something larger.

And that’s all there is to it!

Take your asparagus out of the oven if it’s finished and set it aside.

See my art?  Yeah… still in the kitchen.  Home might be where the heart is, but the kitchen is where the art is.

Sorry.  The cheese-factor is unforgivable.

Immediately set your oven to broil.  You’ll want one of your oven racks to be up near the top of the oven (if your broiler is at the top).

Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and set your fillets on top.

Stick ’em under the broiler for ~2 minutes.  Leave the oven door open a couple inches!!

Meanwhile, get your balsamic butter sauce for the asparagus going.  Things are really rolling now…

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter on the stove over low heat.

While the butter is melting on the stove, check your fish.  When the 2 minutes are up, flip over your fillets and stick ’em back under the broiler for another 2 minutes.

Once your butter is melted, remove from heat and add 1 Tbsp. of Soy Sauce and 1 tsp. of Balsamic Vinegar.

Pour the sauce over the asparagus, and that’s DONE!

Take out your fish (so far they’ve only cooked 2 minutes on each side) and spoon the Parmesan sauce over the top.  Remember that halved the amount of fish but not the sauce – that’s why mine looks extra gloopy.  It’s still very good with less sauce and will form more of  a not-quite-crust.

Put them in for 2-3 more minutes.  Watch closely, because things can darken under the broiler fairly quickly.

Take them out when the look about like this:

Mmmm… melty, cheesy goodness.

This would look even better if I’d remembered to add the chopped, flat-leaf parsley from my garden.

But the fish is nice and flaky – kinda like me – and the balsamic butter sauce on the asparagus is oh, so good.


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This looks uh-mazing. My husband and I eat tilapia a lot (we buy the bulk bag of frozen filets), but we usually just slap some lemon pepper on it and throw it in the toaster oven. I’ll have to try this!


Thanks!! I’d probably recommend sticking with the original recipe’s sauce-to-fish ratio to start – the hubs and I tend to like excess, so the amount of sauce I used might be too much for a lot of people. Plus, you save a bit of calories that way. :) Let me know what you think! You could probably do this in the toaster oven instead of the broiler, too. I just love how quick it is to make.

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