Low Calorie Main Dish Pasta Seafood & Fish Side Dish

Tilapia with Fennel-Yogurt Sauce & Red Pepper Couscous

September 10, 2014

I’m coming off of 10 days of glorious vacation! It’s a little challenging to get back into the swing of things with getting up early for work, getting ready for work, driving to work, being at work. Sensing a theme here? Yeah, I’m happy to be employed, but I sure do miss being on my own schedule, which most days didn’t include wearing makeup or heels. Getting used to my work schedule isn’t the only thing challenging me. It’s also going back to not eating the house down. No more Doritos, no more Devil Squares. Luckily I’ve got this fantastic, low calorie dinner that tastes like I’m still on vacation. This Tilapia with Fennel-Yogurt Sauce paired with Red Pepper Couscous makes me feel like I’m still splurging, but is much kinder to my hips than all those Doritos!

Tilapia with Fennel-Yogurt Sauce

So, how’s it taste?

I found this entire meal in Cooking Light and I love when they do the planning for me. Tilapia is my favorite fish because it’s so mild and will pair well with just about any flavor combination. It’s spiced with cumin, coriander, and red pepper, and then coated in panko, lemon, and black pepper. I love the crunch that comes from the panko. The fish gets cooked in a garlic-scented oil and then finished under the broiler.

Tilapia with Fennel-Yogurt Sauce

I went nuts over the yogurt sauce. I’m a big fan of fennel, but wasn’t sure if I’d like it raw. It really mellows out when you cook it, so I was curious if it would be too strong in the yogurt. Nope! I slathered this stuff everywhere. I even put it in the couscous! It’s tangy and slightly sweet and has a subtle fennel flavor. Full disclosure, I didn’t use the fronds in mine because they looked like death warmed over, so that may up the fennel flavor if you do that. The tang from the yogurt really tames the fennel I thought. I loved the extra crunch, too. If fennel isn’t your thing, you could definitely use cucumber instead.

Red Pepper Couscous

This was my first time cooking with the large couscous. I really liked it and since this version is so simple, I think it needed the larger pearls. For extra flavor, it’s cooked in chicken stock (or broth) and then it’s just red pepper, red onion, and tomato paste. I added a touch more tomato paste to mine and it’s glorious! It added so much to such a basic dish. It went really well with the tilapia, too, even though the flavors are quite different. You’ll also see in the picture that I made the shaved carrot salad. This wasn’t my thing. It wasn’t as good as the fish and couscous and I wouldn’t make it again. Very plain and quite flavorless despite the ingredients.

Here’s hoping that I can stay on track with more meals like this and forget about those darn Devil Squares. Now I see why they’re named that!

Yield: 4 servings

Tilapia with Fennel-Yogurt Sauce & Red Pepper Couscous


Tilapia with Fennel-Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped fennel bulb
1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. chopped fennel fronds
1 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. honey
3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/2 cup panko
1 tbsp. grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
5 tsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
4 (4-oz.) tilapia fillets
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Red Pepper Couscous
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup uncooked Israeli couscous
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 tbsp. unsalted tomato paste


1. For the yogurt sauce, combine fennel bulb, yogurt, fronds, vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Set aside.

2. For the couscous, eat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add couscous; sauté 3 minutes. Add bell pepper and onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add chicken stock and tomato paste; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

3. For the tilapia, preheat broiler to high. Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, panko, rind, and black pepper in a bowl. Heat oil and garlic in an ovenproof skillet 1 minute or until garlic is golden. Remove garlic from pan with a slotted spoon; discard. Add 2 teaspoons oil from pan to panko mixture; toss to coat.

4. Return pan to medium-high heat. Combine coriander, cumin, red pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Sprinkle one side of fillets with spice mixture. Add fillets, spice-side down, to remaining oil in pan; cook 3 minutes. Turn fillets; top evenly with panko mixture. Add lemon juice to pan. Place pan in oven; broil 90 seconds or until topping is golden and fillets are done. Serve with yogurt sauce.

per serving (tilapia & sauce): 216 calories, 8g fat, 27g protein, 10g carbs, 1g fiber
per serving (couscous): 217 calories, 3.9g fat

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  • alexandra September 10, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Beautiful, colorful meal! Too bad the carrot salad was a bust.

  • Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy September 10, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Welcome back!
    I love how colourful this is. I am a big fan of fennel too, although I don’t know many people that are. They are missing out!

  • angela@spinachtiger September 10, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Fish and fennel are a marvelous pairing and this looks just totally delicious.

  • Shannon @ Bake. Frost. Repeat. September 10, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I love tilapia and always looking for other ways to fix it. THis looks great!!

  • Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice September 10, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Hope you had a great vacation, Leah! Tilapia is one of my favorite types of fish, and I love the yogurt sauce that you made. Sounds like the perfect combination!

  • cheri September 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Hi Leah, sounds like you had a great vacation, love the large Israeli couscous. Your tilipia looks delicious!

  • Denise | Sweet Peas & Saffron September 10, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Looks delicious! Love that fennel yogurt sauce, sound amazing! And I totally love Israeli couscous, it has the most amazing texture, doesn’t it?

  • Natalie @ Tastes Lovely September 10, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    I hope you had the best time on your vacation! I loved seeing the pictures you shared on Instagram. But getting back in the swing of “real life” can be tricky. But with dinners like this to look forward to, I bet getting thru the work day is a little easier. This sounds delicious! And I just so happen to have tilapia in my freezer right now just waiting to be used up. Looks like I know what dinner will be tomorrow!

  • Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic September 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    I don’t eat tilapia often enough and really should try more dishes like this. Looks great. I would be all over the yogurt sauce too!

  • Kelly - Life Made Sweeter September 11, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Hope you had a wonderful time on your vacation Leah 🙂 Love tilapia and it sounds amazing with the fennel and yummy yogurt sauce!

  • marcela September 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    wow! It looks insanely amazing! I love the recipe!

  • Annie @Maebells September 12, 2014 at 10:47 am

    This is just lovely! Such a great flavor combo and it makes for such a pretty dinner!

  • mary @ minutes per mile September 12, 2014 at 10:52 am

    beautiful creation! i’m always wondering what to do with fennel. it’s such an unusually delicious little vegetable! i bet it would even taste good on a dorito 😉

  • Isadora @ She Likes Food September 12, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    I hope you had a great vacation! It really is so hard to get back in the swing of things afterwards. As much as I’m grateful to have a job too, It would be so nice to vacation all the time 🙂 We have a bunch of frozen tilapia that is just begging to be cooking into a delicious dish like this! I see this in my future soon 🙂

  • Jess @ whatjessicabakednext September 13, 2014 at 10:21 am

    This looks delicious, Leah! Love all the flavours going on- amazing! Also, your photography is absolutely stunning too! 😀

  • Cailee @ http://hellohealthyeating.com September 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    This looks so good!! seriously… so balanced and tasty! Love the healthiness of this meal! …also you are so cute! Seriously… this is much “kinder to your hips” than Doritos! 🙂

  • Maggie September 17, 2014 at 8:41 am

    I’m a big fan of using yogurt for all sorts of sauce. The fennel idea sounds so delicious and I’ll definitely try out! Great pictures too. Love the paring with red pepper couscous 🙂