Looking for some inspiration for manageable dinners this fall, ones that are practically impossible to mess up, and versatile in their ingredients? Yeah, me too (always). This is exactly the kind of recipe that’s good to have in your back pocket for crazy weeknights or relaxed entertaining. Cooking tilapia and other fish in foil packets is one of the gentlest, most forgiving ways to go—and by smearing it with a boldly-flavored butter, and tucking in some thinly sliced broccoli, you’re left with a darn good square meal.
The ingredients in the foil packets can be easily changed up—for example, slip in shaved fennel or strips of roasted red pepper with the broccoli, or swap out the broccoli for thinly sliced Brussels sprouts or spinach. Whichever way you go, the foil packets can be assembled in advance, and then baked or grilled to serve. Feel free to serve the fish and vegetables straight out of the foil packet, or tuck them into a crusty roll for a surprisingly good sandwich. I've included some sandwich ideas below.
unsalted butter, at room temperature
Spanish smoked paprika
finely grated zest from 1 small lemon (reserving juice for broccoli)
whole-grain or Dijon mustard
kosher salt, or to taste
For rest of dish:
tilapia fillets, 6 ounces each
kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste
large (or 2 small) heads of broccoli (about 1 pound), cut or thinly sliced into very small florets, about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick (about 4 heaping cups once chopped)
lemon juice (from lemon you zested)
4 large hoagie rolls, toasted or grilled
good sandwich toppings include: mayo, roasted bell pepper, arugula, Bibb lettuce, pickled red onions, olive salad
In This Recipe
Heat oven to 400° F. Alternatively, heat your grill to medium-high.
To make the smoked paprika butter: mix all the ingredients together in small bowl until well incorporated. Set aside.
Season both sides of tilapia fillets with kosher salt and pepper, to taste. Toss broccoli with lemon juice and olive oil in a medium bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
On a large sheet pan or baking sheet, lay out four 12-inch sheets of foil. Divide broccoli evenly among the four sheets (about 1 cup on each sheet), then top with a tilapia fillet and a tablespoon of butter, smeared evenly over the top of the fillet. Tightly fold or crimp edges of the foil together several times to create an airtight packet.
Place sheet pan with the four packets in the oven and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the thickest part of the tilapia is opaque and cooked through. At about 10 minutes, open one of the packets to check for doneness to be on the safe side. If the tilapia isn’t done, reseal and return all the packets to the oven. (Alternatively, the foil packets can be cooked directly on the grates of a covered grill for 12 to 15 minutes.)
Remove from the oven and carefully open the packets. Transfer the contents to plates, or place the foil packets on plates so each person can open them at the table. Alternatively, tuck the contents into toasted rolls; see ingredient list for sandwich ideas.