Parmesan Pesto Tilapia Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Parmesan Pesto Tilapia

14 reviews / 4.9 average

Five ingredient recipes. I ♥ them.

One of my first and still favorite cookbooks is the Fresh Food Fast cookbook by Cooking Light. It features page after page after page of healthy, easy recipes with small ingredient lists and hardly any prep time. I used to be embarrassed about liking it because it was seriously the easiest cookbook ever and I have a blog and I have to act fancy and stuff. But you know what? Spoiler alert: I'm actually not fancy, at all. There is no shame in making the cooking process realistic and simple so that you actually... um... do it.

Grated cheese on a cutting board.

About a week after we got to the Philippines, I found the sequel to that cookbook called Fresh Food Superfast in a little bookstore at the mall.

I was still in that phase where you have to either buy or take a picture of every familiar thing that you find anywhere. So two seconds later I had paid a million and a half dollars because apparently that's the going rate for thick, full page picture cookbooks in the Philippines? and was walking out the door already dreaming of the great recipes that would come from this book. Bjork makes fun of me when I use it because I look like some sort of 5-ingredient recipe graduate level scholar. It's a HUGE cookbook. Definitely worth the million and a half dollars.

I love it so much that it's worth personally carrying all five pounds of it home across the ocean. Yep, I'm that girl.

Green basil pesto in a jar.

It's also worth making these recipes five days before moving when I have two measuring cups, a kitchen scissors, and a few paper plates left in my kitchen. ?!?! Or not. Sometimes I am not very good at being rational.

I just have one thing real quick. UK friends, can you tell me about this Waitrose? Is it a brand? A store? Both? I have now bought four Waitrose items from my local Filipino grocery store and I am over the moon in love with all four things: the apple chutney from the apple quinoa salad, ginger beer, gummy babies (definitely creepy and yet soooo ridiculously good), and this lovely pesto that I piled on my tilapia.

I had one reader comment that Waitrose was a little bit expensive in the UK, but for whatever reason it seems to be quite a bit cheaper than the American brands we get here in the Philippines. My pesto was about the equivalent of three dollars, and anytime you can spend less than ten dollars on an import item here you're pretty much winning at life.

Dear Waitrose, come to the US and give us gummy babies!

Tomatoes in a white bowl.

About the pesto tilapia.

Tilapia with shredded cheese on a pan with tin foil.

It's embarrassingly easy. Except remember I'm not going to be embarrassed about easy things if it means I actually cook them more. Right Lindsay? Right. So I'll just call it awesomely easy.

Five ingredients:

  1. Tilapia
  2. Parmesan
  3. Pesto
  4. Fresh chopped tomatoes
  5. Salt, lemon juice, butter, etc.

And this is what you'll get:

Parmesan pesto tilapia on a plate.

Priiiiitty! I didn't even mean for this to be so gorgeous, like serve it to your dinner guests gorgeous, but somehow it is and I like it.

You probably guessed this already but the best part of all this is that the Parmesan gets a little crispy-crunch to it because it broils so beautifully. Pair that with the delicately flaky white fish and the fresh tang of the tomatoes, and then the thick and smooth basil sauciness of the pesto... ohhhyeah. I have a thing for texture. And cheese.

Parmesan pesto tilapia on a plate with a fork.

And for today's final shot, this is what happens when gorgeous impress your dinner guests food becomes dinner for one on the couch.


Parmesan pesto tilapia on two white plates.

You know my table? The one with the super unique scratched and graffitied wood that I bought at the market and that I am so sad to be leaving behind in the Philippines? Bjork says he's going to take the top pieces off the table, pack them in our suitcase, reassemble them for me when we get home.

He knows the way to my heart, for sure.

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Parmesan Pesto Tilapia

Parmesan Pesto Tilapia


This simple Parmesan pesto tilapia is broiled to a cheesy golden perfection and topped with pesto and fresh chopped tomatoes. Just 5 ingredients.


  • 4 6-ounce tilapia filets
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup fresh chopped tomatoes
  • salt, pepper, lemon juice, melted butter


  1. Preheat the broiler. Pat the tilapia dry with a paper towel. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Coat the foil with cooking spray or olive oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Sprinkle each fish filets with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Broil for 10-11 minutes or until the fish is no longer translucent and the cheese is browned on the top.
  3. Top each filet with fresh tomatoes and a tablespoon of pesto. If you have extra Parmesan, add just a tiny bit over the top of the fish, tomatoes, and pesto - it can look really pretty. 🙂 Top with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and/or melted butter.
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: parmesan pesto tilapia, pesto tilapia, parmesan tilapia

Look how short and easy that is! I love it.

You guys? I am now officially done cooking in this little apartment. That's a little sad because it's been a really great year of food, and also a little happy because it's h-o-t in that kitchen. I have a few things lined up in the queue for our upcoming posts, but our cabinets are empty except for cereal and mangoes because we're flying home NEXT WEEK! Next time I cook, I'll be back in Minny-sota.

Thank you for your love and patience and everything else good that you bring to Skillful Cook as we slowly + surely make our way back home in a few days.

Parmesan Pesto Tilapia - Quick & Easy Tilapia - only 5 ingredients!

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    No shame in the 5 ingredient game. I have a 4 ingredient cookbook that I used almost every night right when I got married and still pull it out time to tie.

    This looks awesome and the best part is that I have all the ingredients but the tilapia!

    Safe travels back home!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Waitrose is a chain of supermarkets here in the UK. It’s slightly more expensive compared to the other supermarkets, but they have great quality stuff, as I’m sure you’re aware by now 🙂

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    OK first of all I made your quinoa apple chopped salad last night for my parents and we all LOVED it! So perfect for summer!

    And this? Next week, this is on the menu 😉

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    This sure is gorgeous! I love tilapia, I love pesto, and I love parmesan, but I’ve never had them all together. Will totally be making this soon, as we usually have tilapia once a week. And it really does look super easy.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love EASY recipes, so this will definitely be one that I make! All the best as you make the move back to MN, and extra points to Bjork for packing up the table to bring home – what a great husband 😉

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Safe travel my friends! I can’ believe it has been a year already. I’m sure you’re saying the same thing. Well, if you ever heading East to CT you always have a place to stay. Fall is a beautiful time of the year here in the Norheast. Anyway….welcome home ahead of time :)!!!!!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Julie! Bjork went to school on the east coast for a semester (Martha’s Vineyard) and I went out to visit him since we were dating at the time… anyways, we’ve always talked about going back. You never know! 🙂

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Safe travels to you both. Hope the reverse culture shock isn’t too much of a shock! Love that Bjork is taking your table home for you.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Beautiful photos! Love everything about this recipe! Your husband is a real keeper! That table story mushed me 🙂

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Travel safely! Looking forward to meeting both of you when you’re settled back in the land of 10,000 lakes.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Italian rule, no cheese on seafood. Why waste cheese on a lowly dangerous fish like tilapia. Below, if you haven’t caught up with tilapia news:

    Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine found that farm-raised tilapia has very low levels of omega-3s and very high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. They said, that the “combination of fatty acids in tilapia could pose a danger for some patients with heart disease, arthritis, asthma and other allergic and auto-immune diseases, all of which are linked to chronic inflammation.”

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Waitrose is a great store, you would love it. It is owned by the John Lewis Partnership, a trust that owns the stores on behalf of all the employees, who share in the profits. Safe journey back to Minnesota. Looking forward to the next post.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love that you’re still finding Waitrose products. And yes, it’s a food store, but it’s more high-quality than, say, Walmart-type places. Many people joke that only rich or famous people shop at Waitrose, although I’m not entirely sure that’s true! (not to say that you’re not rich or famous – I’m sure you’re both ;))

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    OMG, I almost had a heart attack and my heart still hurts for that table. No way, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that table! I have looked for a similar surface/table from Pier 1 stores to dumpsters. I would die if I had to leave it. I’m not being helpful at all, right Lindsay?! I know. But seriously, can’t you take only the top back home???

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow..I love the easiness of this dish. Easy recipes that taste delicious are the best cuz you know you will be making it, and making it often.

    I feel a little sad that you are leaving the place that you have called home for the past year. I’ll miss reading about how you use bleach to clean your fruits, not being able to find certain things there, or occasionally finding something you wouldn’t find here in the US. But I look forward to reading about all your culinary ventures that await back at home.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Yum! This reminds me of something my sister used to make. I forgot all about it until this. I’ll have to try it – simple is fantastic, and we love white fishes and parmesan. . . and pesto. So yeah, guaranteed winner! So happy for you to be returning home, and super sweet of Bjork to be schlepping and reassembling the beloved table!! What a great souvenir!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    The fewer ingredients, the better, in my humble opinion.

    Thanks so much for sharing your time in the Philippines–I enjoyed every post so much.
    It’s kind of good you’re going back to Minnesota at the beginning of summer. The heat and humidity may make you feel closer to the Philippines. 🙂

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    I bought my mom one of Cooking Light’s Superfast cookbooks for Mother’s Day about 5 years ago because she hates spending time cooking. And then… She never used it! So I’m itching to “borrow” it (without returning, of course), but every time I pull it off the shelf, she says, “I’m thinking about looking through that for a recipe this week!” Sigh. Someday…

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m completely fine with the fish, cheese, pesto and tomatoes as the only ingredients but you also listed salt, pepper, lemon and melted butter? Did I miss how to use them in the recipe? Use to season the fish? It looks delicious!