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The first time I had a chicken piccata wasn’t until after I’d met my husband; it’s his favorite dish. Needless to say, I’ve made it for him countless times and I’ve fallen in love with the bright and briny flavors myself. Because it’s just so damn scrumptious, I knew I had to come up with a good pescetarian spin on the dish so that I, too, could dig into a piccata in all of it’s lemon-y fresh goodness.
My recipe stems from Giada De Laurentiis’ chicken piccata — but with a few trusty modifications. Besides the obvious meat swap, I use half of the butter and a fifth of the oil. I use vegetable broth instead of chicken stock, and I add some wine or beer into the mix for extra flavor. If you want to skip out on the booze, no worries; you can replace it with broth.
My first attempt at a pesce-friendly piccata was with shrimp. It was divine, but maybe as it’s own thing: a Shrimp Pasta With Lemon Caper Sauce type of thing. It just didn’t bring the essence of a true piccata dish to the table. After that, I attempted the dish with a fillet of cod. Again, it was good, but the representation of the dish was lacking. I needed a flat fillet that was similar to the usual butterflied chicken breasts, dredged in flour, and easy to plop on top of fresh pasta. So, I moved onto tilapia, and Great Caesar’s Ghost! NAILED IT. It’s exactly what I was looking for. I think triggerfish would work well in this dish too, and it might be worth giving halibut a shot — but tilapia? Winner winner no-chicken dinner.
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- 4-6 oz tilapia fillets
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Flour for dredging
- 3 TBSP butter
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup capers drained
- 1/4 cup beer or wine see notes
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 TBSP fresh parsley chopped + more for garnish
- 9 oz fresh linguine or pasta of your choice
- Season the fillets with salt and pepper, dredge them in flour shaking off any excess flour, and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat 2 TBSP of butter and olive oil over moderate heat.
- Once the butter has melted, place the fillets into the pan and cook for 4 minutes.
- Carefully flip the fillets over and cook for another four minutes. When done, remove and set aside. The fillets should be lightly browned on both sides.
- Add the remaining TBSP of butter to the pan and let it melt.
- Once melted, add the lemon juice, capers, beer or wine, veg broth and approx. 1 TBSP of parsley.
- Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally, for approx. 5 minutes. The sauce should thicken a bit. If you find you need more sauce, gradually add veg broth until you're satisfied.
- Reduce the heat and transfer the fillets back to the saucepan, spooning the sauce over the fillets to coat. Transfer back to a plate.
- Prepare your pasta as per the packages instructions.
- Once the pasta is ready, dump into the sauce pan and toss to coat in the sauce.
- Serve the pasta topped with a tilapia fillet and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.