Blackened Tilapia with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus
Prep Time: About 30 minutes (15 minutes hands-on)
Meal Notes: I’m convinced that blackened seasoning is magic. Nothing sugar-free and practically fat-free should taste this good. And yet! This hot and smoky Cajun seasoning is my go-to remedy for bland meal-plans. The sheet pan recipe in this post is exceptionally nutritious, satisfying and easy. You could serve it with rice or couscous, but the ingredients below make a full meal for 2-3 people on their own.
Source: Modified from Naive Cook Cooks
3 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon thyme
2-3 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
Fish and Vegetables:
4 tilapia fillets
2 Tablespoons butter
1 package fresh cherry tomatoes (about 2 pounds)**
1 bundle fresh asparagus (about 2 pounds)**
Salt and pepper to taste
Prep: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut asparagus into bite-sized pieces, discarding tough ends. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using either either a small bowl in the microwave or a small saucepan over the stove, melt the butter.
Mix the spices: Add all spices to a shallow bowl and mix together. Taste and adjust spiciness level as desired. Pour the seasoning onto a plate.
Prepare Tilapia: Using a basting brush, brush tilapia with butter on both sides. Next, dredge each fillet into the plate of seasoning, coating generously on both sides with the blackened spice mixture. Once coated, give fillets a shake and place them on one end of the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Prepare Vegetables: Place asparagus and tomatoes together in a medium bowl with remaining melted butter. Toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour vegetables onto the prepared baking sheet, beside the tilapia fillets.
Bake: Bake tilapia and vegetables for 7 minutes. Then, flip the tilapia and bake for another 7 minutes. Remove and serve when the fish is fully baked (white and flaky).
*What’s the deal with blackened seasoning? Although blackened seasoning is often associated with traditional Cajun cooking, it’s actually a relative new-comer to the canon. Credit goes to Chef Paul Prudhomme, who created blackened seasoning in the 1980’s. Prudhomme is also known for popularizing the fusion of Louisiana Creole (“city food”) and Cajun (“country food”) cooking to the point where the once sharp lines have now been blurred into near non-existence.
Today, you can usually buy blackened seasoning pre-mixed in the spice aisle of your local grocery store, but I encourage you to follow this recipe and make it from scratch. Not only is it incredibly easy to whip up, but making it at home will allow you to adjust the heat level according to your own taste. Plus, you can keep an leftovers in a small storage container and use your own personal blend for another recipe on another day.
**What if I don’t have asparagus and tomatoes on hand?: The original version of this recipe called for zucchini, which I’m sure would also taste great with this dish. But, by happy accident, I forgot to pick up zucchini the day I made this recipe for the first time. And I happened to have tomatoes and asparagus on hand. So I used what I had. I discovered that I love the juicy tomatoes balancing out the heat of the blackened seasoning in this recipe, which is why tomatoes and asparagus have become my default version. Moral of the story? Use what you have! Make your own default version!