Chef Nathan Lyon Makes Pan-Seared Tilapia With Braised Leeks and Gremolata


Tips for buying leeks:

  1. Choose small to medium leeks that are firm, straight, and heavy for their size.
  2. No yellowing or other signs of decay.
  3. Leeks should have as much white and light green as possible.
  4. Store unwashed leeks in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer.
  5. Rinse thoroughly before use.



  • 1 tsp lemon zest (zest of 1 lemon), grated on a microplane and chopped finely
  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled and minced (½ tsp)
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, garlic, and parsley and mix well.
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir, and cover with plastic wrap.



  • ½ pound leeks
  • 1 small bulb fennel, sliced into 8 equal wedges
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 5 springs fresh thyme
  • 1 large garlic clove peeled and minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine (preferably sauvignon blanc)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1½ tbsp of fresh lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley


  1. Cut off the root ends and dark green parts of the leeks, halve them, and clean them carefully in a sink or large bowl full of water; drain the leeks.
  2. Season the cut side of the leeks lightly with salt and pepper.
  3. In a sauté pan large enough to accommodate the leeks, combine 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter and heat over medium-high heat until the butter just begins to brown.
  4. Add the leeks, cut side down, and the fennel and cook undisturbed for 3 minutes or until nicely carmelized.
  5. Using tongs, flip the leeks and fennel; continue to cook until carmelized, 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the white wine, stock, thyme, and garlic and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the leeks are beginning to soften and give when pressed, approximately 15 minutes.
  7. Squeeze in the lemon juice and reduce liquid until ¼ cup remains, approximately 15 additional minutes.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper; discard the thyme sprigs, stir in the parsley, and cover and keep warm.



  • 2 tilapia fillets, 1-inch thick at the thickest point (about ¾ pound)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ tbsp fresh lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)


  1. While vegetables are braising, pat the fillets dry and season them lightly, on both sides, with salt and pepper.
  2. Sprinkle flour onto a plate then dredge the fillets in the flour, shaking them lightly to remove any excess.
  3. When the vegetable braising liquid is reduced to approximately 1 cup, combine the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan until the butter begins to brown.
  4. Carefully add the fillets and let cook until nicely browned, approximately 3 minutes. Using a wide spatula, flip the fillets, and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. The fish should look opaque and just begin to flake, but still be moist.
  5. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fillets then serve immediately on a bed of the braised vegetables (with the tasty braised liquid) and a generous sprinkling of gremolata over the top of the entire dish.
Chef Nathan Lyon

To learn more about Chef Nathan Lyon, visit and and pick up a copy of his book, "Great Food Starts Fresh." You can also watch him host Veria Living's " Good Food America" on Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET.

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