Lime baked Tilapia with purple basil pesto crust, garlic’n rosemary sweet potato fries and creamed spinach


This dish, like some of the best, wasn’t planned. I mean we planned to eat, don’t get me wrong, I just had no idea what to do with the few ingredients left in the fridge a couple hours before cooking. We were heading away for a long weekend so it was time to use up whatever was available. The purple basil pesto, I must admit, was planned but not for this dish so the sentiment still rings true. I’m glad to say though, it was a right success. The punch from the basil with the lime baked fish was a triumph and the sweet potato fries were the best yet. I’ll put that down to taking a few minutes to blitz the coating before making sure it was rubbed evenly all over the fries resulting in an even and crisp cook all round. Perfect. And for the creamed spinach, well, any excuse really. Love it. I’ll be making this again for sure and this time, it will be planned! Enjoy! 

Serves 4 (with pesto left over for pasta or whatever you fancy)

Prep time: 30 mins
cook time: 50 mins – 1hr


For the fish:

– 4 x fillets of Tilapia (or bass)
– 1 x lime (sliced into rounds)
– Good olive oil
– Sea salt
– Fresh ground black pepper
– Purple basil pesto (see below)

For the fries:

– 2 x large sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into fries)
– 3 x garlic cloves
– 4 x sprigs of rosemary (leaves only)
– Dash of paprika (or cayenne pepper)
– Good olive oil
– Sea salt
– Fresh ground black pepper

For the purple basil pesto crust:

– 1 x small bunch of purple basil (I’d have used more if I had it)
– 50g pine nuts
– 75g hard cheese, parmesan ideally but I used a Spanish sheep milk cheese which was also great, no pun intended. (finely grated)
– good olive oil
– 2 x garlic cloves (peeled)
– Sea salt
– Fresh ground black pepper

For the spinach:

– 500g spinach
– 2 x garlic cloves (peeled, crushed and finely diced)
– 50g cream (single or double, up to you)
– Sea salt
– Fresh ground black pepper



  1. Prepare the pesto in advance, the day before if possible, and store in the fridge to let the flavours develop
  2. Toast the pine nuts until brown being careful not to overheat
  3. combine all ingredients in a small food processor and blitz
  4. Store in the fridge overnight, or if you don’t have time place in fridge until ready to use
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees
  6. In a small food processor combine the garlic, rosemary, paprika, olive oil (3 good glugs), salt and pepper and blitz
  7. Lay the sweet potato fries evenly on one or two baking trays and cover with the garlic’n rosemary mix, get in there with your hands to make sure they are all evenly coated
  8. Place into the oven on the op shelf for 50 mins – 1hr checking and turning every 15 mins
  9. Lay the Tilapia fillets side by side on some tin foil, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place one or two slices of lime on each fillet and seal with the foil so that the fish steams
  10. After 15 mins place onto a baking tray in the lower shelf of the oven below the fries and cook for 30 mins
  11. After 30 mins remove the fish from the oven, open the foil, discard the limes and cover with the pesto
  12. Place the fish back in the oven for 10 mins uncovered for the pesto to heat and start to crust
  13. Wash the spinach, heat some olive oil and start by frying the garlic to infuse the oil. After a minute or so add the spinach and cook for 5 mins then add the cream to finish


To serve:

Serve the fish on top of the spinach with a generous portion of fries and a large glass of white wine on the side.



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