This is a fun little recipe, as it really doesn’t take very much time or work to make, but it really tastes like it did! With a homemade salad dressing and a crash course in fish blackening, you’re going to be pretty impressed with yourself after you make this meal.
I’ve made a lot of salad dressings for this blog so far, and I have to say that this Blackened Tilapia Salad with Paleo Avocado Dressing is definitely one of my favorite ones. It’s creamy and has a nice kick to it, and when you pair it with the spicy fish and the cooling cucumbers and strawberries, it’s going to be a like a perfect summer party in your mouth!
- Cast iron pan
- 3 filets of tilapia, about 1/2 lb. each
- Cooking fat/oil of choice (make sure it’s approved for high-heat cooking)
- Greens of your choice
- 1/2 lb. fresh strawberries, sliced
- 1 cucumber, sliced
For rub, 1/2 teaspoon each of the following:
- chili powder
- dried oregano
- Old Bay® Seasoning
- smoky paprika powder
- ground cumin
- ground black pepper corns
- 1 avocado
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, stems removed
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 small jalapeño, seeded and core removed
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/8 tsp. celery salt
- 1/8 tsp. sea salt
- Place all ingredients for dressing into blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour dressing into a glass bottle with a good seal and place into the refrigerator so that the ingredients have a chance to meld together. This dressing should stay good in the refrigerator for about 5 days, and it will keep its bright green color during that time as well.
- Place all ingredients for rub into a bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Place your tilapia filets out on the counter and pat dry with a paper towel. Rub a very light coating of your cooking fat/oil of choice — I used coconut oil since it’s good for high-heat cooking, and I find the best way to do this with coconut oil is to just grab a chunk of it in its solid state and rub the fish down (the warmth of your hands will melt it a bit as you go). You could also use a coconut oil cooking spray to achieve this. Divide your seasoning into 6 parts in the bowl and rub both sides of each filet with one part of the seasonings.
- Place your cast iron pan on the stove over high heat to warm up. Coat your pan generously with your cooking fat/oil of choice. Cook the fish for 2-4 minutes on each side, depending upon the thickness of your fish and ONLY flip once (this helps to create a nice blackened crust on the outside of this fish). Make sure to have proper ventilation, as it will get a bit smoky in your kitchen!
*Note: As you can see in the pictures, I used a cast iron grill pan, as that’s what BOTH of my cast iron pans are, and you need cast iron in this instance because non-stick pans aren’t great for high-heat cooking like this. I would recommend that if you can stay away from the grill version of the pan, do so. It will definitely still blacken your fish, but if you’ve ever cooked fish before, you know that it’s very flaky when it cooks, and it will definitely fall apart a lot more easily with a grill pan, as there’s no real easy way to remove it from the pan. Since we’re making a salad here, it didn’t matter much to me — but if you’re using this for anything other than a salad, you’re going to want to find a pan with a smooth bottom.
- Once your fish is cooked, assemble the salad: fill your bowl with your favorite greens, sliced strawberries and cucumbers, chunks of the blackened fish, and a drizzle of that cool, refreshing salad dressing. Enjoy!
Love seafood salads? Try this Spicy Shrimp Super Salad!