Baked Tilapia with Spinach Pecan Pesto

5 from 3 votes
35 minutes
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Baked Tilapia with Spinach Pecan Pesto is an easy recipe that makes a great, healthy weeknight dinner but is elegant enough to serve to guests!  You’ll love these potato galettes that are perfect on the side!

Photo of Baked Tilapia with Spinach Pecan Pesto in white oval baking dish garnished with lemon wedges and chopped pecans.

Hey, all!  Here’s a lovely easy recipe that’s light, lean, delicious but also simply beautiful!  It’s one of the most popular recipes that I’ve been doing for clients for years!

Flaky, budget-friendly tilapia is topped with a lemony spinach and pecan pesto then sprinkled with more crunchy pecans for an impressive presentation!  Best of all, it bakes to perfection in under 20 minutes!

What is the truth about tilapia?

Tilapia is possibly one of the oldest fish species to exist in the world.  It is not genetically engineered but originated in the Middle East and Africa.  Biblical scholars believe it was the fish Jesus used to feed the multitudes in the story of the loaves and fishes.

Today, tilapia is this country’s favorite farmed fish and is farmed all over the world.  Because tilapia is farmed, be sure to buy if from a reputable source; I always buy it at Whole Foods.

Is tilapia good for you?

Although tilapia does not have the high level of heart-healthy omega fatty acids that salmon has, it has more than an equal serving size of chicken, turkey, beef or pork.  It’s a very lean source of protein with 23 grams and only 111 calories per 3.5-ounce serving.  So yes!  It’s good for you!

Close-up photo of Baked Tilapia with Spinach Pecan Pesto in white baking dish garnished with chopped pecans and lemon wedges.

How to make Baked Tilapia with Spinach – Pecan Pesto:

  • Gather up all the ingredients for the pesto:
    • Fresh spinach (I used baby spinach)
    • Extra virgin olive oil
    • Garlic
    • Pecans
    • Parmesan cheese
    • Lemon juice
    • Salt and black pepper to taste
Photo of ingredients for Spinach Pecan Pesto.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a food processor.
Photo of spinach leaves in food processor.
  • Process until smooth!
Photo of spinach pesto in food processor.
Photo of Spinach Pecan Pesto in glass jar.
  • Prepare a baking dish by brushing it with a small amount of olive oil.
  • Place the tilapia fillets in the prepared baking dish.
  • Top it with a generous amount of pesto.
  • Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Photo of uncooked tilapia with pesto over the top.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 17-20 minutes.
  • That’s it!!
  • Serve with lemon wedges.
Photo of Baked Tilapia with Spinach Pecan Pesto on light gray background garnished with pecans and lemon wedges.

Delicious!

Much of the olive oil from the pesto will pool around the fish for a lovely olive oil-poached moist and flaky result!  We drizzled it back over the fish on our plates.

Photo of Baked Tilapia with Spinach Pecan Pesto in white baking dish with serving fork.
Photo of Baked Tilapia with Spinach Pecan Pesto in white baking dish with serving fork.

You’ll have plenty of pesto left.  Freeze it in small batches for future use or serve with chicken or tossed with pasta! You can also substitute basil pesto!

Other fish you can use:

  • You can use any mild, white flaky fish in this dish such as:
    • Halibut
    • Sea bass
    • Flounder
    • Barramundi
    • Grouper

Serve with:

More healthy fish dishes to try:

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Baked Tilapia with Spinach Pecan Pesto - Straight-on close-up shot of finished dish garnished with chopped pecans and lemon wedges

Baked Tilapia with Spinach Pecan Pesto

5 from 3 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Baked Tilapia with Spinach – Pecan Pesto is an easy recipe that makes a great, healthy weeknight dinner that's also elegant enough to serve to guests!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Fish and Seafood
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2
Calories 1167 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bag (10-ounce) baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic - coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup pecan halves and pieces - plus more to sprinkle over the top of the fish
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice - approximately 1/2 large lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 2-3 (6-8 ounce) tilapia fillets
  • Lemon wedges - for serving

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a baking dish and set aside.
  • Combine spinach, olive oil, garlic, whole pecans, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese in a food processor. Process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  • Place the tilapia fillets in the prepared baking dish.
  • Top each filet with a heaping spoonful of the pesto (approximately 1/2 cup total) and spread it over the fish fillets.
  • Sprinkle a few chopped pecans over the top.
  • Bake for 17-20 minutes or until fish easily flakes with a fork.
  • Serve with lemon wedges.

Notes

MAKE AHEAD:  Fish can be assembled in the baking dish 1 day ahead of time.  Let stand at room temperature while the oven preheats.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 1167kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 123g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 19g | Monounsaturated Fat: 81g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 404mg | Potassium: 266mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 271IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 341mg | Iron: 2mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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