It’s crunchy, savory and tender all in one dish with lots of vegetables and little fat.
That’s why personal chefs Ursula Bulgarelli and Carol Segobiano of St. Charles, owners of Pear of Chefs, often cook Crispy Crusted Tilapia for clients and for their own families.
“It’s quite easy and all done in one dish,” Bulgarelli says. “The hardest part is just chopping up the vegetables, but those can be done ahead of time before you go to work.”
This healthy dish has very little fat with just two tablespoons of unsalted butter in four servings.
Tomatoes, green and yellow peppers, plus leeks are chopped and put on the bottom of a jelly roll pan, which is a deep cookie pan. The fresh garlic is sprinkled on top.
“You have to remember to wash the leeks,” Bulgarelli says. “We have made it without the leeks and substituted green onions. But the leeks just complement the flavors and fish so well.”
The fish fillets are laid on top of the vegetables and then adorned with a topping of Panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, paprika and butter.
Panko crumbs are very versatile, light Japanese bread crumbs, Bulgarelli says.
“They add the crunch that kids will even like,” she says.
You can substitute any mild tasting fish, but tilapia is an affordable fish. And you can adapt the recipe to incorporate however many people will need to be served, Bulgarelli says.
It takes only 20 minutes to cook in a 450-degree oven. The steam from the vegetables cooks the fish and keeps it tender and flaky.
Bulgarelli has a master’s degree in education and has been a teacher in the past. She also used to own a business where she would have people gather in her home to assemble dinner meals for their own family.
She eventually moved into Segobiano’s neighborhood, and they became good friends.
“We found ourselves talking about recipes, and then decided to start up a business we both would enjoy,” Bulgarelli says.
The pair also offers an after-school cooking program and private cooking lessons.
Crispy Crusted Tilapia
1 cup tomato (seeded and chopped)
1 cup leeks (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup green pepper (chopped)
1/2 cup yellow pepper (chopped)
1 tablespoon garlic (minced)
4 tilapia fillets (6 ounces each)
1/2 cup Panko crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
1. Combine the following ingredients in a bowl: tomato, leeks, green and yellow pepper, garlic.
2. Spray a deep cookie sheet with cooking spray.
3. Arrange the vegetables on the cookie sheet and place tilapia fillets on top.
4. Combine the following ingredients in a bowl: bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, paprika, cayenne.
5. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a glass measuring cup in the microwave.
6. Toss the melted butter with the Panko crumbs and spices mixture.
7. Divide the mixture on top of the fish, pressing into the fish.
8. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until fillets flake easily. kc
• This three-month health series will enlist the expertise of Ursala Bulgarelli and Carol Segobiano of St. Charles, co-owners of Pear of Chefs. They will provide a lowfat recipe for Kane County residents to try at home.