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Tilapia and Sardines in Creamy Asparagus Sauce over Confetti Couscous #FFFMysteryBox

Tilapia and Sardines in Creamy Asparagus Sauce over Confetti Couscous
FYI, this basket would have gotten me chopped.

Today I'm sharing a recipe with you a bit reluctantly. It's actually the result of a mystery box challenge that I'm doing with a few other bloggers, "Chopped" style. The way it works is, we drew names out of a hat (well, one of us did - we arranged it virtually), then mailed our assigned blogger a box of three (or four) random ingredients. We then had to take our ingredients and turn them into one cohesive dish.

I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty pumped to tackle my basket—until I actually received it, that is. I was stumped. It's a good thing I didn't have only 20 or 30 minutes to create something, or I would have turned in an empty plate. I kid you not, I went round and round and back and forth with this. My three ingredients just did NOT want to play nicely together. Curling up in a ball and rocking back forth sounded better than anything I could come up with.

Before I go any further, I should tell you what I received from Ashley of Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen: sardines in Harissa, asparagus pesto, and dried dragonfruit. Separately I could think of all sorts of awesome ways to use them. I even came up with a few flashes of brilliance using two of them together...but all three? Uh, no. I even sent out a call for help, asking people on Facebook what they would make with those ingredients.

The general consensus was that they would order take-out. I also asked on Instagram and heard crickets (but it did get a "♥" from Chopped judge Donatella Arpaia). So, I fretted and pondered for another week and a half before just going for something. Last night. Like, literally 13 hours ago. I'd had the ingredients for more than a month.

How did it taste? Well, remember I said I would've been chopped. I really didn't love the flavors together. Each part of the dish was okay on its own, but not my favorite together. But hey, at least I didn't give up. Gotta get chopped trying, not quitting. (So yeah, make this at your own risk. I included the recipe because I wanted to show you how I used my ingredients, but...)

Tilapia and Sardines in Creamy Asparagus Sauce over Confetti Couscous
Tilapia and sardines smothered in a creamy coconut asparagus sauce, set over a bed of confetti couscous.
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Tilapia and Sardines in Creamy Asparagus Sauce over Confetti Couscous
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Keywords: entree pescetarian

Ingredients (serves 2)
    for the couscous:
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
    • 3/4 cup couscous
    • 4 ounces cooked asparagus, cut into small pieces
    • 1/4 cup chopped dried dragon fruit
    • 1/4 cup salted, roasted sunflower seeds + more to garnish
    • 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
    • salt
    • black pepper
    for the fish and sauce:
    • 1 (4 ounce) tin sardines in Harissa
    • 2 (4 ounce) tilapia fillets
    • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
    • 2 tablespoons asparagus pesto
    • salt
    • black pepper
    making the couscous:
    Combine water, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and a pinch of salt in a small pot and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous, put on the lid and remove from heat; let sit 5 minutes.

    Fluff with a fork, then gently fold in the rest of the ingredients until distributed evenly. Set aside while you make the fish and sauce.

    making the fish and sauce:
    Season the tilapia with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet large enough to hold both tilapia fillets over medium-high heat. Once hot, pour in about 2 tablespoons of harissa oil from the sardine tin. Carefully set the tilapia fillets into the hot oil, presentation side down; cook until lightly golden on each side and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes total. Drain as much oil from the skillet as you can.

    Carefully set the sardines into the pan, around the tilapia, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, flipping halfway, until heated through.

    Stir together the coconut milk and asparagus pesto, then add to the skillet. Let it bubble up for a minute, then remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

    to serve:
    Divide the couscous among two plates, then carefully set a piece of tilapia on each plate. Pour the sauce over the tilapia, making sure to divide the sardines evenly among the plates. Sprinkle with a few extra sunflower seeds.
    Serve immediately.

    the items I received in my mystery box
    So tell me, what would YOU have made with the mystery box I received?

    Curious to see what the other FFF Mystery Box bloggers got in their boxes? I sent a mystery box to Matt from Nomageddon, but here's the whole list of other bloggers and their creations. Drop by and check them out - see what they created in their kitchens. Pretty sure I'm still chopped first.