Glory hallelujah! Eating heathy just became a lot easier (and tastier!) after introducing this Blackened Tilapia with Watermelon Salsa into our dinner rotation. Easy to prepare, delicious and the epitome of spring/summer fare. Sign me up!
Blackened Tilapia with Watermelon Salsa
Healthy eating has never been my jam. I’d much rather focus on portion control than deprive myself of the foods I love so much (like this tomato and ricotta pasta). That’s always been the way I’ve kept my five-foot frame relatively trim in the years post high school when I could down an entire small pizza or eat McDonald’s cheeseburgers every day and not gain a pound.
In my quest for healthy eating, I vowed to never consume a meal that isn’t something I’d eat on a normal day, so I’ve been pushing myself to come up with meals that scream, “I’m pretty!” and “Not boring!” rather than force grilled chicken breasts and steamed veggies down my throat day after day.
This Blackened Tilapia is just that. It’s absolutely stunning to look at, has a fiery kick in both the blackened tilapia itself and the watermelon, that make it anything but boring, and with the addition of a super easy side of creamy whole-wheat orzo or baked sweet potatoes, it fills me up until my requisite before-bedtime dark chocolate peanut butter cup.
- Blackened tilapia only dirties up two dishes, which I love
- Is broiled in the oven keeping my stove squeaky clean in the process.
- Blackened tilapia is cheap. Tilapia is ridiculously inexpensive and if you get it at Aldi, like I did, it’s like $4.99 cheap for four large filets.
Ingredients in Blackened Tilapia with Watermelon Pico
Blackening seasoning. You can make your own, of course. But because it’s technically a “5-Ingredient Friday dish,” I’m trying to keep the ingredient list down as much as possible. Blackening seasoning is readily available at any supermarket.
If you’d rather make your own, it’s a concoction of paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, oregano, and salt. Add more or less of what you want to make it your own.
Tilapia. You’ll need four large filets, but you can easily add one, two, or even three filets to make this a large dinner.
Watermelon. Surprisingly, I’ve found plenty of watermelon perfectly ripe this time of year. I like to buy a whole one, cut up what I need for this recipe and then save the rest to snack on the rest of the week.
Tomato. Even though this is a watermelon pico, I like to add a little bit of diced tomato for contrast.
Onion and garlic. No pico is complete without a little bit of onion and garlic. If you make the watermelon pico ahead of time, the onion and garlic will bread down and become less pungent as it sits.
Jalapeno. Dice jalapeño adds a nice kick. I like to add one whole jalapeño, seeds and stems included, but add more or less depending on your spice tolerance. I also like to taste the jalapeño before adding it to the watermelon pico, this way if it’s a REALLY hot one, you can add less, it’s it’s more mild, add more.
Cilantro. I like A LOT of cilantro. It’s one of my favorite herbs, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Add less if it’s not your thing.
Lime juice. Every pico needs a bit of acidity. I love the tartness lime juice adds. I even like to squeeze a little bit extra on top just before serving.
Feta. Feta is kind of an untraditional ingredient to add to a pico, but feta and watermelon is a natural combination, so it makes sense to add it to the pico.
How to make Blackened Tilapia
Cook the tilapia. Preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the tilapia with salt and pepper. Generously cover the top with the blackening seasoning.
Place the tilapia under the broiler set on the middle rack. Broil until the top is blackened and the fish is flaky and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
Make the watermelon pico. Add watermelon, tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeño, lime juice, cilantro, and salt to a small bowl. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Assemble. Transfer the tilapia to a plate. Spoon watermelon pico on top. Sprinkle with feta cheese and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Do I have to use tilapia?
No! You can use a light white fish. Red snapper or mahi mahi would be great substitutes.
What if I can’t find a fresh watermelon?
If you can’t find a fresh watermelon, you can use all tomatoes. If tomatoes aren’t in season, just make sure to let the pico sit for a least an hour to bring out the sugars and juices in the tomatoes.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Keep an eye on the broiler. If the tilapia starts to burn, put it on the bottom rack.
- If you don’t like cilantro, swap out flat-leaf parsley.
- Cojita cheese would be great instead of feta.
- Serrano chili also works in place of jalapeño
What to serve with Blackened Tilapia
- This homemade rice-a-roni is a great easy side dish to blackened tilapia. All of the comfort of the boxed stuff, but made from scratch.
- Our Everyday Kale Salad is the perfect blank canvas to serve with this dish. Packed with hearty kale, shaved Brussels sprouts, honey-roasted almonds, and a super easy parmesan lemon dressing.
- If corn is abundant, try out creamy corn recipe made with coconut milk. Rich, but healthy!
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 4 tilapia filets
- 1 cup diced tomato
- 1/2 cup diced watermelon
- 1 small jalapeno, finely diced
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 1 large garlic clove, grated
- 1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta (optional)
- sheet pan
- Preheat oven to broil. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
- Mix garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, oregano, cayenne and salt together in a small bowl. Place tilapia on baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with seasoning. Broil until blackened and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes.
- While the fish cooks, mix tomatoes, watermelon, jalapeño, onion, garlic, lime juice, and cilantro together in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over tilapia. If using, sprinkle feta on top.