Mar 26
2012

Baked Tilapia Recipe with Arugula Walnut Pesto & Breadcrumb Crust

Baked-Tilapia-Recipe-with-Arugula-Walnut-Pesto-&-Breadcrumb-Crust-Cookin-Canuck

Okay, this story doesn’t actually have anything to do with baked tilapia or arugula walnut pesto, but it was a story that needed to be told.

“Aaahh-ooooo, aaahh-ooooo…” This sound drifted from our backyard nearly every day last week. On the first day, I cautiously peeked out the back door, prepared to see a coyote sitting on the corner garden bed mound. To my surprise (though, really, I shouldn’t be surprised anymore), all I saw was my 7-year old (T) standing in the middle of the yard, head thrown back, howling with abandon.

“What are you up to, T?”

“Oh. Hi, Mum. I’m just trying to attract a bigfoot.”

Super.

Trevor

“Okaaay. What are you going to do if one actually shows up?”

“Well, don’t worry. I won’t let him inside or anything. Maybe we could lock him in the garage until the people from Finding Bigfoot get here. You know, that show on Animal Planet.”

Silence. I really need to monitor those Animal Planet shows more closely.

“Umm, okay. Well, have fun. And make sure you plan an escape route.”

I hopped on Twitter to report T’s latest escapades and received responses, such as “Cool! I live in Bigfoot country in Canada” and “Give that boy a camera!” Apparently T isn’t the only Bigfoot fan out there.

Ten minutes of concerted howling later.

“Mum, Mum! I just saw something big and hairy walking through the trees in the back field.”

“Are you sure that wasn’t our odd neighbor from down the street?”

“No, Mum. It really was a bigfoot. I just know it!”

Life is rarely dull around here.

From leprechaun traps to Bigfoot, our days are heavily steeped in mythical creatures. I only hope the Easter Bunny doesn’t have something up his furry sleeve.

The recipe:
It takes no more than five minutes to whip up this pesto. However, if you are really pressed for time, feel free to substitute this arugula pesto with your favorite store-bought variety.

TilapiaArugulaPesto1

The pesto:
In the bowl of a food processor or a blender, briefly pulse arugula leaves. Add chopped, toasted walnuts and minced garlic.

Tilapia Arugula Pesto Collage 1

Pulse several time until mixture is finely chopped, but still with some texture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add finely grated Parmesan cheese, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

With the motor running, slowly pour in extra-virgin olive oil and run until combined.

TilapiaArugulaPesto4

The tilapia:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray.

TilapiaArugulaPesto5

Lay the tilapia fillets in the baking dish and spread 1 1/2 tablespoons pesto on top of each fillet. Season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper and divide the breadcrumbs evenly between the fillets.

Bake until the tilapia is just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serve.

TilapiaArugulaPesto6

Other tilapia recipes:
Cookin’ Canuck’s Fish Tacos with Creamy Green Chile & Cilantro Sauce
Pham Fatale’s Breaded Tilapia (Nori Crusted Fish)
Greedy Gourmet’s Tilapia with a Peanut Crust & Chinese Dressing
Chase Blackwell’s Grilled Tilapia with Charred Sweet Corn Relish

Baked Tilapia Recipe with Arugula Walnut Pesto & Breadcrumb Crust

Yield: Serves 4

From the kitchen of Cookin Canuck. www.cookincanuck.com

Ingredients

    The pesto:
  • 2 cups arugula leaves
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • The tilapia:
  • 4 (6 oz. each) fillets tilapia
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

Instructions

    The pesto:
  1. In the bowl of a food processor or a blender, briefly pulse arugula leaves. Add chopped, toasted walnuts and minced garlic.
  2. Pulse several time until mixture is finely chopped, but still with some texture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. Add finely grated Parmesan cheese, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. With the motor running, slowly pour in extra-virgin olive oil and run until combined.
  5. The tilapia:
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray.
  7. Lay the tilapia fillets in the baking dish and spread 1 1/2 tablespoons pesto on top of each fillet.
  8. Season breadcrumbs with salt and pepper. Top the tilapia with the breadcrumbs.
  9. Bake until the tilapia is just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serve.

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Medeja March 26, 2012 at 4:04 am

That pesto looks like a really great addition!

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2 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Thank you! I love the flavor of pesto with seafood.

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3 Belinda @zomppa March 26, 2012 at 4:47 am

That’s hilarious – you know…his approach was totally logical. That pesto looks wonderful!

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4 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm

You’re right. It’s difficult to argue with him!

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5 bellini March 26, 2012 at 5:18 am

I do enjoy arugula pesto. With the fish this would be stunning.

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6 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Thank you! Arugula pesto really has a distinctive flavor that pairs so well with seafood.

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7 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective March 26, 2012 at 6:28 am

Yes, I am definitely Ooohing and Ahhing over this one! There’s nothing like fresh pesto to make a girls’ heart skip a beat. :)

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8 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Thanks, Sommer. I feel the same way!

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9 Cookbook Queen March 26, 2012 at 6:50 am

My son and husband are totally obsessed with that bigfoot show. I don’t get it, I guess it’s a boy thing!!

My husband loooove tilapia, I need to make this for dinner!!

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10 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I have a very difficult time taking the people on that show seriously. At least they’re having fun!

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11 Traci March 26, 2012 at 7:03 am

This looks delicious! I love those little bowls that you have the pesto placed in. They are beautiful! Can’t wait to try it, I love fish!

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12 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Thanks, Traci. I had a lot of fun styling the pesto ingredients in those little bowls.

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13 kelley March 26, 2012 at 7:49 am

Dara, thank you for that this morning! It reminds me why I love having boys and what I have to look forward to. T is so adorable, I can just imagine him in the back howling away. I really hope big foot doesn’t show up.

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14 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Everyday is an adventure with boys, isn’t it? I’d imagine your two adventurous boys would happily join T in his quest.

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15 Bev Weidner March 26, 2012 at 7:51 am

Ha!! Maaan, this looks so pimp!

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16 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Thanks, Bev.

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17 Noble Pig ~ Cathy March 26, 2012 at 7:57 am

I love tilapia, it’s such a black canvas you can do so much with. THX!!

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18 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I agree, Cathy. It really does lend itself to so many different presentations.

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19 Cassie March 26, 2012 at 8:04 am

I love arugula pesto and it looks so amazing over this tilapia…definitely something to ooo and ahhh over. Love this!

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20 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Thanks, Cassie. My family really enjoyed this one – and it was so easy to make.

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21 Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables March 26, 2012 at 8:05 am

such a cute story! And there’s just something about fish + pesto that I love together. Can’t wait to try this version!

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22 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Thanks, Emilie. That boy always keeps us guessing and laughing.

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23 ceecee March 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

My kids fave fish is tilapia – we have it at least twice a week. And your pesto sounds delicious. It’s going on our menu!
Thx D,
C

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24 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Thanks, Ceecee. Tilapia has such a mild neutral flavor, which is great for kids.

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25 Becky @ Project Domestication March 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm

This is calling my name. I love a great pesto and with the weather warming up, fish sounds perfect.

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26 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Thanks, Becky. Springtime makes me crave greens like arugula and spinach.

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27 Russell at Chasing Delicious March 26, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I make tilapia so much but have never tried it like this! That pesto and crust looks incredible. Yum!

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28 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Thanks, Russell. This is one of our favorite ways to prepare tilapia (and salmon). The breadcrumbs really add a great crunch.

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29 claudia lamascolo/aka pegasuslegend March 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Spectaular photos!

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30 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Thanks so much, Claudia!

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31 Asiya March 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I made a similar dish today with cilantro pesto…I have all the ingredients for your recipe so will be giving it a try! Thx for sharing!

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32 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I adore cilantro pesto. I’ll bet your version was wonderful!

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33 Meg March 26, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I’m a sucker for a fresh pesto. Never thought to try it on fish! Excellent idea… I’m going to have to try this any maybe my people will actually get excited about it. Bigfoot is popular with my 9 year old too. He was just sure if he stays glued to the windows when we go into the forest he’ll be bound to see a Bigfoot. :) Thanks!

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34 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 26, 2012 at 9:45 pm

It sounds as though your son and my son would get along famously!

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35 Deborah March 26, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Loved that story! And it makes me excited for Easton to grow up! :) This fish sounds so good!!

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36 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. March 27, 2012 at 6:15 am

omg this is a winner. I am up for anything to do with arugula

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37 Maria March 27, 2012 at 6:59 am

I am in love with that pesto!

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38 Megan {Country Cleaver} March 27, 2012 at 8:02 am

Oh bless T’s heart!! I was always terrified at my Dad’s Bigfoot stories as a kid (to this day, he’s still a believer). I hope he surprises BigFoot one day, he’ll have a story for the rest of his life ;)
(This is when my favorite quote from Under the Tuscan Sun comes into play – “Never lose your childish enthusiasm, it’s the most important thing.”)

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39 Lauren March 27, 2012 at 8:36 am

That is so hilarious!!! PS-I’m in love with those adorable little white bowls!

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40 Susan March 27, 2012 at 10:24 am

Wondeful pesto … so easy, but it sure dresses up a dish! I have some hake that I think I will use instead of the tilapia … looks like a light and delish dinner this evening! Thanks, Dara!

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41 Sara{OneTribeGourmet} March 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Dara, love the idea of arugala & walnut pesto with Tilapia, I need to try this recipe ASAP! Delicious!

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42 Cindy @ Once Upon a Loaf March 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm

That was me. *I* am the Bigfoot! ;) Great recipe. It’s time for us to get back to fish, so I’m making this. Thanks!

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43 Mirtha March 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm

for a split second there I thought you were talking about my son. he’s 7. he watched the same show on animal planet.

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44 Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen March 28, 2012 at 9:32 pm

I haven’t had arugula pesto in ages, this looks so fresh and perfect for spring.

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45 Lydia March 29, 2012 at 6:47 am

It’s only recently that I’ve been making pesto with something other than the traditional basil and pine nuts. Arugula makes a perfect partner to walnuts, and I love the walnut pestos with grilled chicken and pasta hot or cold dishes. It freezes well and is great to have on hand in the pantry.

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46 JulieD March 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Love it! My husband is a bigfoot fan! :) This fish recipe looks so yummy! I love that you made an arugula pesto! I will definitely have to try this!

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47 Suzanne April 1, 2012 at 10:00 pm

I love pesto on fish and with arugula it sounds great.

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48 Thyme (Sarah) April 2, 2012 at 6:05 am

I saw this on FG and it looks so delicious! Thank you for sharing this recipe.

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49 Carolyn April 2, 2012 at 6:52 am

Sounds like your little man has a wonderful imagination! Love this fresh dinner idea too. Yummy walnut pesto!

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50 Katie {Epicurean Mom Blog} April 2, 2012 at 10:16 am

Healthy and Delicious, couldn’t get better! Walnut pesto is my fave! So refreshing for the start of spring!

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51 RavieNomNoms April 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm

This is SO delightful!! I am obsessed with pesto…and yours is very creative. I always love taking different spins on pesto. Lovely!

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52 Lara April 4, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I made this for me and my boyfriend last night and it was amazing!!! Well, I couldn’t find tilapia in the store so used sole instead and it was scrumptious!!!!

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53 kita April 15, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Maybe it’s because I work in comics, but I am lucky to see the imagination of kids running wild every day and I think its absolutely magic. I love that he saw a bigfoot after all his efforts – that totally makes it worthwhile. I’m not the biggest kid person, but that story made me smile. :)

This tilapia sound refreshing with the pesto on top. I am additional to pesto after discovering last spring.

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