So, it’s unofficially official – Memorial Day has passed and that means it’s summer! I’m already feeling lighter – I swear it’s true. Almost unconsciously, dinners have switched from warm, starchy, comfort meals to lighter, vegetable-forward entrees full of whatever I can grab from my garden. It’s amazing how our bodies just instinctively know that the seasons are changing and adjust accordingly. And just like with the other seasons, I have a list of favorite recipes that repeat every summer. This Spanish Tilapia with Wilted Greens is so light and fresh, yet so flavorful and satisfying at the same time. It’s everything that’s great about summer cooking – simple ingredients and easy preparation. Because there’s nothing worse than being stuck in the kitchen when it’s beautiful outside.
Tilapia is my go-to summer fish. It’s flaky and mild and super versatile. It will pretty much take on whatever flavor you want. When pan-fried, tilapia gets a really nice crust on it, which makes it great for recipes like my Baja Fish Tacos. I like to pan fry it in this preparation because the crusty texture is a great complement to the wilted spinach. The pan sauce is really simple and comes together quickly. For a more authentic flavor, try to use Spanish paprika, also known as smoked paprika. It can be found in most supermarkets and adds a mellow smoky flavor to any dish. I love using it on all kinds of seafood, especially grilled shrimp. Regular paprika is fine for this Spanish Tilapia with Wilted Greens, but using Spanish paprika will definitely punch up the flavor.
The bacon that you’ll add into the greens adds another layer of smokiness. I l like to use uncured turkey bacon, but feel free to use whatever kind you like.
Even without a starch, this Spanish Tilapia with Wilted Greens is so satisfying. But being honest, I always serve it with a side of Patatas Bravas. Because, you know – carbs. And you can make them on the grill so you can spend more time outside. Which is really where we all belong in the summer. Grab some fresh parsley from your garden and be generous with the lemon too. Have this meal with a chilled glass of Albarino for a complete Spanish Riviera experience. And let the summer begin! Enjoy!
For the Fish
- 8 tilapia filets
- 2/3 cup olive oil, divided
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 Tbsp. dry sherry
- 2 lemons
- 1/2 tsp. Spanish paprika
- fresh flat leaf parsley
For the Greens
- 12 oz. spinach
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
- 4 strips thick-cut bacon
- 4 Tbsp. roasted red peppers, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp. Spanish paprika
Heat 1/3 cup oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Pan fry the tilapia until golden and a bit crusty, about 4-5 minutes each side. Remove from pan, set aside and cover to keep warm.
Add the remaining 1/3 cup of oil to the pan and add the garlic. Allow the garlic to start to sizzle. Then add the bay leaf, red pepper flakes and paprika and cook another 1-2 minutes. Pour in the sherry and deglaze, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the fish back into the pan and spoon the sauce over top. Keep warm.
Make the greens: Dice the bacon and cook over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, red pepper and paprika and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach and saute just until wilted.
Plate the spinach and place tilapia over top. Squeeze with the juice of one lemon. Slice the other lemon and use for garnish. Garnish with fresh parsley.