Tilapia with Cauliflower Purée and Maple-Cranberry Sauce

  • Yield: 4 servings


1 head cauliflower (about 1 pound)
1tablespoon butter (optional)
4 5-ounce tilapia fillets
2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2cup unsweetened dried cranberries (if using sweetened, omit the maple syrup)
1tablespoon maple syrup
1 small shallot, finely diced
3 cracks freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cut the cauliflower into similar size pieces. It will usually break off at the stem, then all you have to do is to chop the core.
  2. Place the cauliflower in a saucepan just large enough to hold it all and cover with cold water. Season generously with salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a simmer until the cauliflower is soft and just beginning to fall apart, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water. Transfer the cauliflower to a blender or food processor. Purée, adding 1 tablespoon of the cooking water at a time to facilitate the process. The purée should be perfectly smooth and silky. If you like, you can add the butter for richness. This can be made ahead and gently rewarmed in a microwave or on the stovetop over low heat for serving.
  3. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  4. Place the tilapia fillets on a baking sheet and brush with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Bake just until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes for a 1-inch-thick fillet. During the last few minutes of cooking, set the serving plates in the oven to warm. This method of cooking fish, while it guarantees moistness, doesn’t ever get the fish really hot, so warming the plates is key to keeping the fillets from cooling too quickly.
  5. While the fish is cooking, make the sauce. Put the cranberries in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes to plump them. Drain, then combine the cranberries with the maple syrup, the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the shallot, and pepper in a medium bowl. Season with a pinch of salt.
  6. To serve, divide the cauliflower purée among the 4 warm serving plates, spreading it over the surface. Set a tilapia fillet on top, spoon the salsa onto it, and serve immediately.

–Recipe used with permission from For Cod and Country by Barton Seaver, published by Sterling Publishing