Tilapia Marbella

Cooking in NYC during the summer is kind of a drag. Forget about how hot your apartment gets from turning on the oven, I’m talking about how everywhere you go seems to just call your name to come eat and drink there. Outdoor garden! Happy hour all night! Rosé! Everyone looks like they’re having SO much fun sipping margaritas al fresco, while you’re lugging your groceries past them, sweat dripping down your back, because you just can’t afford another happy hour no matter how cheap those drinks claim to be. Womp womp.


Maybe someday I’ll be laughing along with those happy, beautiful people, sipping my marg, feeling sorry for the disheveled girl schlepping by (or I’ll be able to afford central air and an oven that doesn’t heat up my apartment to a sauna); but until then, cook I must, no matter how high that thermometer gets or how many tempting happy hours there are.


Luckily the temps in NYC have cooled down this week, so I didn’t have to suffer too much while making this Tilapia Marbella. I got the idea for this dish from Chicken Marbella, a classic recipe from the classic Silver Palate Cookbook. I first had Chicken Marbella at Elana’s beach house last summer and instantly fell in love. It just tastes like something your mom and your mom’s mom would have made. Comforting without being heavy; super flavorful with barely any prep needed.


Normally the chicken needs to marinate with the sauce for a couple hours before cooking, but because I didn’t have time for that, I opted for a fish version (because it’s more delicate, it doesn’t need to marinate as long, and fish cooks faster!).  Tilapia is a meatier fish, so it can stand up to the hearty olive-caper-prune sauce, but thin enough that it can cook quickly in the oven in just 25 minutes.

While I may have initially suffered from FOMO as I carried my tilapia, olives and prunes home, I certainly did not regret making this dish as I probably would have had I gone to happy hour…

Tilapia Marbella adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook

serves 4


1 lb tilapia filets

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup pitted green olives, roughly chopped

1/4 cup capers with some juice

1/2 cup pitted prunes, roughly chopped

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large glass baking dish with cooking spray. Season tilapia filets with salt and pepper. Place in an even layer in the baking dish and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, oregano, red wine vinegar, olive oil, olives, capers with a bit of their juice, prunes, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

3. Pour the sauce over the tilapia filets in the baking dish. Sprinkle brown sugar over each tilapia filet and pour wine around the fish. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until fish is opaque and flaky.

4. To serve, divide tilapia among 4 plates (or save the rest for leftovers). Spoon the sauce over each filet and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with cooked couscous or quinoa – it will sop up the delicious sauce!


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