tilapia with citrus basil pesto (gf)

Tilapia Citrus Basil Pesto I One Lovely Life

I decided to kick of the summer with something light, filling, and deliciously fresh. I am hoping to talk Michael into eating more fish this summer, and I thought this was a great starter.

I fell in love with the idea of adding a citrus flavor to pesto after watching Giada make something like this on Food Network a few weeks ago. I took what I could remember and I came up with this. It was incredible.

I only cooked two tilapia fillets this time around, although the sauce makes plenty for four if you need to cook for a larger crowd. If you can’t find fresh tilapia, consider buying frozen and thawing them out in your refrigerator. These fish are frozen right after being caught and cleaned, so you are less likely to get something that tastes, well…fishy (usually indicative of a lack of freshness).

Another bonus of tilapia is that you get thinner fillets, which means they cook faster. Also, a 4oz portion of tilapia is just over 100 calories, and low in fat, so it’s an excellent choice for anyone hoping to eat lighter. Paired with salad and crusty bread, it makes a perfect meal.

I hope you like this as much as I did!

Tilapia Citrus Basil Pesto I One Lovely Life

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Tilapia with Citrus Basil Pesto


  • 4 (4oz) tilapia fillets, patted dry
  • 1c fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4c toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2c fresh parmesan cheese, grated
  • zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • zest and juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil


  1. In a food processor or blender, combine basil leaves, pine nuts, parmesan, zests, juices, and garlic. Process or blend until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired (I used about 1/4-1/2tsp of each). Set sauce aside.
  2. Salt and pepper the tilapia. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle pan with olive oil (could also use butter or nonstick spray). Cook tilapia on one side 3-4 minutes or until golden. Flip and cook 2-3 minutes on the other side.
  3. Serve with pesto sauce.

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