This dish is so fun! It’s so different than anything I’ve ever made before — it was really, really nice. So – quick recap on what tagine is — tagine is basically a cooking vessel — it’s similar to a dutch oven – and certain dishes that are slow cooked or come from a certain region use the term tagine to describe themselves – this is tagine b/c of the middle eastern/mediterranean flavors. And I love it. I love it a lot.
The flavors are just incredibly unique and flavorful — definitely a keeper! And clarification on tahini — it’s a sesame paste — you can find it in the mediterranean aisle or greek section of your grocery store. It seems fairly expensive – around $7-$10 for a jar of it – but you don’t need a ton and can use it for hummus as well. Just FYI.
Admission: I came home from work today in the worst mood – I hated the bus ride home, I hated the grocery store people, and I just hated everything. Then I started making this dish and I got happy again. Well, actually, I had a snack and that helped too. Good food will do that to me. Just change my day from negative to positive with one bite – or even with the knowledge that I will be eating something good soon. I think that’s called “emotional eating” — I just call it life. But whatever it’s called – it’s my truth – which may or may not be a bad thing!
Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe: 2 lbs. of white fish fillets (I used tilapia), 1/4 c. water, 1/4 c. lemon juice and zest from lemons, 2 onions (sweet preferred), cilantro, pine nuts (can substitute walnuts or any other kind on hand), tahini paste, salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, and coriander. And optional items include couscous and pita. Toasted pita to be exact. Uh oh, sounds good already, right?!
So let’s start first with the onions — they’ll take the longest b/c you’ll be caramelizing them. Thinly slice the onions into half-moon shapes. The thinner – the better and the less cooking time. Heat a large pan over medium heat – add 1 T. canola oil or butter — and add the sliced onions to the pan. Stir to coat – and add 1 t. salt and 1/4. t. ground pepper. Keep the onions on medium to low heat – stirring every few minutes. Warning: caramelizing onions should take a while — minimum of 15 minutes. If you cook them too quickly you get a good flavor – but not the sweet, caramel like flavor that you can get by cooking them low and slow.
Ok – next….prep the sauce. Mince or grate (I grated today….seemed easier and I had giant garlic cloves) 4 garlic cloves and remove the zest of your 2 lemons.
Juice the lemons until you get a 1/4 c. of juice. My two lemons had enough juice — but beware — sometimes lemons have less juice so be prepared by having an extra one on hand.
Chop 1/4 c. cilantro — now it’s time to make the sauce. Add the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, water, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, lemon zest, and coriander to a dish. Stir until mixed completely. This will be a thick sauce.
What now? Assemble!
Take the fish and lay into a 9×13 dish. Sprayed with cooking spray for easier clean up.
Spread the tahini lemon sauce over the fish and place into a preheated oven at 400 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes — the sauce will be bubbly on the side and the fish will be cooked through completely.
Meanwhile…toast 1/4 cup of nuts — I used pine nuts – but in the future I’d probably just use whatever nut I have on hand. Warning: nuts burn quickly – so don’t leave them on the stove. Seriously. I went to put a pair of flipflops on and came back and they were super close to burning. Whoops.
I cooked couscous and toasted pita to eat with the tilapia — yum.
Remove the tilapia from the oven and add the caramelized onions, toasted pine nuts, and additional cilantro over the fish — serve with the couscous and toasted pita.
Now it’s time to eat and enjoy – seriously – this is so good. The flavors of tahini are rich and nutty – the caramelized onions are sweet and tender — the fish is flaky and moist. It’s a really unusual dish – and the flavors just meld beautifully.
Fish Tagine with Tahini Lemon Sauce
Click here for recipe.
2 lb. flaky white fish, such as tilapia
3/4 c. tahini paste
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. plain greek yogurt (I used non-fat)
1/4 c. water
1 T. lemon zest (or zest from 2 lemons)
2 T. garlic paste (grated or finely minced)
2 T. cilantro (fresh) – plus more for garnish
1/2 t. coriander (ground)
1/2 t. red pepper flakes — or less per your preference
3 t. salt (divided)
1/2 t. pepper (divided)
1/4 c. pine nuts
1 T. oil
- Caramelize onions: slice onions into half-moon slices – thinly. Heat large pan over medium heat with 1 T. oil. Add the onions and add 1 t. salt, and 1/4 t. pepper – reduce heat to medium/low and stir until caramelized, about 20 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- While onions are cooking, make the tahini sauce: mix the tahini, lemon juice, greek yogurt, water, lemon zest, garlic paste, remaining 2 t. salt, remaining 1/4 t. pepper, 1/2 t. coriander, 1/2 t. red pepper flakes. Stir to incorporate completely.
- Place fish fillets into 9″x13″ baking dish – spray with cooking spray – and spread tahini sauce evenly over fillets. Place into preheated oven for 20 minutes.
- Toast pine nuts – small pan over medium heat – stirring constantly. Takes about 2 minutes.
- To serve: spread the caramelized onions over the fish – top with toasted pine nuts and additional chopped fresh cilantro. Optional: serve with toasted pita and couscous for a complete meal. So delicious.