Weeknight Cooking

Dinner Tonight: Poached Fish + Salad with Lemon Caper Dressing

March 11, 2014

Don't get us wrong -- we love braises and soups and peasant food, in much the same way that we love our favorite sweaters and softest scarves. How could you not look tenderly upon something that's kept you warm and cozy for so long?

Now that it's March, though, that routine of long, slow cooking feels like an admission of defeat. If braising is winter's M.O. and grilling is summer's, then gently coddling our dinner in a bath of infused oil is perfect for these days when there's still a nip lingering in the air. So until the weather gives us springtime, we'll bring springtime to our kitchens -- in sunny chartreuse colors, crisp vegetables, delicate fish, and a punchy salad dressing to rouse our taste buds from hibernation. 

Click through on the recipe photos or titles to see (and save and print) the full recipes, but we've also written you a handy grocery list and game plan below.

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Tilapia Poached in Olive Oil with Thyme and Garlic by Merrill Stubbs


April Bloomfield's Lemon Caper Dressing by Genius Recipes

The Grocery List

Serves 4

4 tilapia filets, about 1/4 pound each
3 sprigs thyme
2 medium lemons
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons drained capers, finely chopped
2 cups olive oil, plus more for the dressing
1 head of butter lettuce

We assume you have garlic, kosher and flaky sea salts, Dijon mustard, and superfine sugar. If not, add those to your grocery list!

The Plan

1. Heat the oven to 275° F. Arrange the fish in a single layer in a shallow baking dish, overlapping the thinner areas of the filets slightly to create a uniform thickness for even cooking.

2. Pour enough olive oil into the dish to just cover the fish (about 2 cups). You'll need slightly more or less oil depending on the size of your dish (use a smaller dish that just fits the fish in a single layer to minimize the amount of oil you need).

3. Add the thyme and garlic to the oil, tucking them under the surface, and sprinkle the salt evenly over the oil and the fish.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes, until just cooked through. Meanwhile, for the salad dressing, segment the lemons over a bowl to catch the juices (see the recipe for further instructions). Set aside.

5. Squeeze the juice from the membranes into a separate bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, and stir well.

6. Add the lemon segments and toss gently to coat them without breaking them up.

7. Dress the greens and divide them onto four plates; then, when the fish is finished cooking, gently lift the filets out of the dish, transfer them onto the plates, and drizzle some of the oil over each one. Serve immediately.

Photos by James Ransom

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  • Meredith
  • jlyn
  • Rémy Robert
    Rémy Robert
Fond of large dogs, tiny houses, pungent cheese, and dessert for dinner (or breakfast).


Meredith December 3, 2014
This looks easy and delish - wondering about the olive oil since so much of it is used. Good EVOO or simple, cheaper olive oil for the poaching? Obviously good EVOO for the dressing.... also, any way to re-use the poaching olive oil?
jlyn March 11, 2014
Thanks for this great dinner idea! What other types of fish could you use here? Would sole work?
Rémy R. March 11, 2014
Hi jlyn -- yes, sole would work great! I've seen this method used for all sorts of seafood, from shrimp to salmon to tuna to more delicate white fish like sole and tilapia. Go wild and let us know what you like most!