Recipes, Weeknight Dinners

Pan Seared Garlic Tilapia with Steamed Kale and Roasted Potatoes

I love making seafood dishes during the week because it’s so easy to prepare and quick to cook. This simple seafood dinner can be ready and on the table in 30 minutes or less! Tilapia is especially great because it’s not too fishy, tastes great, and is super affordable.

I learned this recipe from my advisor back in graduate school years ago. She was a pescatarian so she always had some amazing seafood recipes. On a research trip once, she made all her students a delicious seafood dinner, and this tilapia took center stage. The recipe was so simple and delicious, it has stuck with me ever since.

The trick that makes this recipe so flavorful is the use of garlic paste. That stuff is magic you guys. You can use garlic paste on pretty much any type of fish, most shellfish, or even on chicken, and it takes your meal to another level. It’s so easy to make too! All you have to do is mash some garlic cloves, salt, and olive oil together until it creates a paste.

Slather the paste on your fish or protein of choice and you can either bake in the oven or pan sear over the stove. I chose to pan sear my tilapia this time in a cast iron skillet and it turned out super yummy!

Serve with some steamed leafy greens (I usually use kale because it keeps its crunch even after being steamed) and tomatoes. Also great with a side of roasted potatoes.

You have to try using garlic paste in your cooking. I promise, once you do, you’ll never go back. Until next time!



Garlic Tilapia Recipe


  • 1 lbs tilapia filets
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • A couple handfuls of pre-packaged kale
  • 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 2-3 medium russet potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • about 5-6 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika


  1. Preheat oven to 425 F
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and pour in diced potatoes
  3. Drizzle potatoes with about 2 tbs olive oil, or enough to evenly coat all the potatoes
  4. Season potatoes with 1/2 tbs salt, 1 tsp black pepper, and 1 tsp paprika
  5. Using a spoon, carefully stir the potatoes until evenly coated with the oil and seasoning taking care not to rip the foil (you could also mix the potatoes, oil, and seasoning together in a separate bowl and then add to the lined baking sheet, but then you have more dishes to wash 😳)
  6. Put potatoes into the preheated oven for 30 minutes
  7. While the potatoes are cooking, rinse and pat dry the tilapia and set aside
  8. Add garlic cloves, 1/2 tbs salt, and about 2 tbs olive oil into a mortar and crush with a pestle until it forms into a smooth paste (if you don’t have a mortar and pestle set, you can use a bowl and potato masher, or even a fork – although you’ll end up with a chunkier paste and a soar hand, but it will work just as well!)
  9. Slather both sides of each tilapia filet with the garlic paste and season evenly with remaining salt, pepper, and paprika
  10. Heat 1-2 tbs olive oil in a cast iron skillet or sauté pan on medium high heat
  11. Add tilapia filets and sear one side for about 1-1.5 minutes
  12. Carefully flip the filets and reduce the heat to medium low
  13. Add sliced cherry tomatoes and kale to the skillet or pan over the tilapia filets
  14. Drizzle with additional olive oil and a little more salt and pepper and give a quick toss to coat
  15. Cover and let cook until your potatoes are ready, about 5-10 minutes
  16. Enjoy your quick, healthy, and delicious meal!

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