The pesto and green olive topping on this panko-crusted baked white fish makes the hearty weeknight meal taste much more "fancy" than it really is. Just start your pasta water when you preheat the oven, and you'll have a vibrant fish and orzo dinner on the table in 25 minutes or less!
Panko-Crusted White Fish FAQs
For this post, I used tilapia fillets, but any other white fish will be delicious. Try halibut, cod, haddock, or whatever looks freshest at the fish counter.
Nope. Nobody can tell you what to do in your kitchen. It is a generous crust, but the texture of the breadcrumbs works so well with the buttery, tender fish, "grains" of orzo pasta, and juicy tomato morsels. If you have leftover breadcrumb mixture after you top the fish fillets, I suggest sprinkling it over the tomatoes on the other half of the baking sheet.
Of course! Brown or white rice is a great alternative, as is quinoa or any other type of pasta. I use orzo here because it mixes well with the roasted tomatoes and provides a nice texture contrast to the other components.
Want to Make it Even Quicker?
This recipe comes together quickly as it is, but here are a few ways to shave off even more time.
- Start with hot water for the orzo. No matter what your mom or grandparent might have taught you, there's no reason to start with cold water when it needs to come to a boil for pasta. Just turn the faucet to hot and let the tap run until the water is steamy, then fill your pot. If you cover the pot and place it over high heat, your water should come to a rolling boil in as little as 5 minutes.
- Use canned tomatoes. Fresh cherry or grape tomatoes add a lot of flavor to this recipe, but if you don't have time to quarter them, feel free to use a 28-ounce can of regular or fire-roasted diced tomatoes instead. Drain the canned tomatoes, spread them on the baking sheet, and you're ready to go.
- Chop the green olives in a food processor. I'm with you: Chopping roly-poly olives can be a pain. Feel free to dump them in your food processor and pulse them a few times instead.
Panko-Crusted White Fish with Roasted Cherry Tomato Orzo
- Large rimmed baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ pounds white fish fillets, such as halibut, cod, haddock, or tilapia
- 1½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup prepared green pesto sauce (or use homemade pesto)
- ⅓ cup pitted green olives, chopped
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- While the oven preheats, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the quartered cherry tomatoes on one side of the baking sheet in a single layer (it’s fine if they are cramped together). Drizzle with olive oil and season with a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Lay the fish fillets on the other side of the baking sheet, making sure they are not overlapping. If you can’t fit all the fillets in a single layer, nudge the tomatoes to the side of the baking sheet until you have enough room.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, pesto, olives, and lemon zest until everything is evenly incorporated. Spoon the breadcrumb mixture onto the fish fillets, and press gently to help the mixture adhere to the fish.
- Transfer the baking sheet to the oven. Roast for 10 minutes or until the crust begins to brown and the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
- After you put the baking sheet in the oven, add the orzo to the boiling water. (This way, the pasta and fish will be done around the same time.) Cook the pasta for 7 to 9 minutes, until al dente.
- Drain the pasta, dump it into a medium bowl, and toss it with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Scrape the roasted tomatoes into the bowl with the pasta; stir until the tomatoes are evenly distributed. Taste and season the orzo with more salt, pepper, and olive oil as desired.
- Serve the pesto-crusted fish immediately with the roasted tomato orzo on the side.
*Recipe adapted from this one on BBC Good Food