Honey-Tahini Tilapia

When I tell people that I love to cook the first thing they often ask is what my specialty is. Seriously, I don’t think I have one. There are just a handful of meals I make over and over again in exactly the same way. If anything, I guess my specialty is experimenting and coming up with new things! I’m not afraid to change things up.

I guess I’m just really indiscriminate when it comes to food. Heck, I don’t even have a favorite vegetable or a favorite fish, nevermind a favorite food of all time. There is absolutely no way I could pick a favorite dessert! So it’s kind of surprising that I can tell you exactly what my favorite food in Greece was without hesitating: the grilled Haloumi and tomatoes served with a honey-wine-tahini sauce that we ate at Strogili in Oia.

It was completely unexpected, and utterly delicious and different than anything else I’ve eaten. If I hadn’t harassed the waiter for the sauce ingredients, I could never have told you that it contained tahini, honey, wine, and mint. All I could say is that it was really freaking good and I savored every last bit. (Oh, yeah, I shared some with Ben too.)

I knew I’d be trying to recreate this at home, so when I saw a jar of tahini with honey in a grocery store in Mykonos (yes, I hit up grocery stores on vacation) I didn’t hesitate to buy it. When I opened it at home I was in love – this tahini was velvety soft and smooth unlike the regular tahini I’ve used.

“Can I buy this in the US?” I  have no idea – check your local Mediterranean markets. “Can I make my own by blending tahini and honey?” I bet you can, but don’t ask me the proportions – just give it a shot!

Not surprisingly, I tested this out during our first week back. I didn’t have any haloumi, but I did have plenty of tilapia and it’s probably healthier to eat tilapia for dinner than just a plate of haloumi cheese. But I’ll do that some other time, regardless.

I didn’t have any wine open (not that I have a clue what kind they used) or mint, but I did have lemon juice, champagne vinegar, and basil, so I decided to employ those. After a few rounds of add-mix-taste-adjust (and using some water to thin it to the right consistency), I found something I was quite pleased with. Actually, make that very pleased. I will probably still tweak it next time, but this was pretty good for a first shot! I could have ate it all up with a spoon, but I spread resisted and saved it for the tilapia.

The sauce on the tilapia was nice and different – not quite as good as with haloumi, which gives a little salty contrast, but still very enjoyable. (I think salmon might have been a better choice since it works well with sweet flavors – I’ll have to try that next time!) We ate this alongside Swiss chard (a nice greeting from our garden upon our return!) sauteed with artichokes, garlic and lemon.

Honey-Tahini Tilapia

3 tablespoons tahini with honey
1 1/2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
splash of lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh basil or mint
water, to thin as necessary
salt, to taste

2 tilapia filets, about 4 1/2 ounces each (or other mild white fish, or salmon, because I think that would be really good though I haven’t tried it yet!)
salt, pepper, and lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Combine tahini, champagne vinegar, lemon juice and basil. Whisk together, adding water as necessary to thin it out a bit. The sauce should be pourable, but not runny.

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place the fish on the foil and season with salt, pepper, and a splash of lemon juice.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until almost cooked through. Remove from oven, spread a little of the sauce on each piece of fish, and return to oven for 2-3 minutes. Before serving, drizzle the remaining sauce over the fish.

Note: I’m skipping the nutritional information on this one. Most Greek nutrition labels quantify the nutritional value per 100gm, not the actual serving size. I didn’t feel like doing the math. Just eat and enjoy, knowing that you are consuming wholesome, nutritious, unprocessed food!
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24 Responses to “Honey-Tahini Tilapia”

  1. 1

    Barbara — June 25, 2010 @ 12:54 pm Reply

    Wow. That's the way to perk up tilapia, Cara! Great sauce and because I love salmon more, I'll take your suggestion and try the sauce with that.

  2. 2

    Tasha — June 25, 2010 @ 12:59 pm Reply

    Mmmm. This looks so good! I'm going to have to experiment with tahini and honey very soon. Love the idea of this sauce on salmon!

  3. 3

    Kalyn — June 25, 2010 @ 1:39 pm Reply

    I've never seen tahini with honey, but I'm intrigued, and this recipe sounds great!

  4. 4

    Alexandra London-Gross — June 25, 2010 @ 1:51 pm Reply

    Oh haloumi, how you have such a special place in my heart. That tahini sauce sounds amazing, I'll definitely have to try that soon!Alex @ ieatasphalt.com

  5. 5

    Dawn — June 25, 2010 @ 2:58 pm Reply

    God that mixture sounds so amazing. Maybe I will try that on tofu.

  6. 6

    Kelly — June 25, 2010 @ 3:01 pm Reply

    Yum. I love that you harassed her for the recipe. I need to get better at that. I also LOVE your answer to the specialty question. I get asked the same thing all the time too and struggle to come up with a response because like you, I don't tend to make the same thing more than once. I think that's what comes with having a blog, I always feel like I should make something different so I have something to write about!

  7. 7

    mr. pineapple man — June 25, 2010 @ 5:13 pm Reply

    looks amazing!

  8. 8

    Joanne — June 25, 2010 @ 5:37 pm Reply

    This looks incredible! I have a serious passion for tahini and it really would go perfect with honey (kind of like honey roasted peanut or almond butter I guess). I love that you put it over tilapia. I think I'm going to have to try it both ways though…halloumi needs to be featured in my life!

  9. 9

    Athena — June 25, 2010 @ 9:55 pm Reply

    This sounds really interesting to make, especially for a guest dinner. It's nice to be able to serve someone something they've never tried before! I'll definitely try it out with salmon. And I think it's a good thing that you don't have a favorite food or vegetable even! It makes for awesome, unique recipes!

  10. 10

    grace — June 26, 2010 @ 11:19 am Reply

    it seems rare to find tahini in anything other than hummus, so i'm excited to see this tasty sauce!

  11. 11

    marla {Family Fresh Cooking} — June 26, 2010 @ 1:45 pm Reply

    I gotta stumble this now! What a great sauce for the tilapia. Love the combo of honey & tahini.Ohhhh, I too would love it over salmon. I just read a post that you can put Halloumi cheese directly on the grill. Never have tried the stuff, but need to now! xo

  12. 12

    Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) — June 27, 2010 @ 12:53 am Reply

    honey, wine, tahini..swoon at that flavor combo! I could drink that i think :)

  13. 13

    Susan (peebsmama) — June 27, 2010 @ 12:32 pm Reply

    I will definitely be giving this one a try. Looks simple and with very different flavors.The traditional recipe for Tahinomelo is usually a one to one ratio – so 2 tbl of honey to 2 tbl tahini. But then you can tweak it to suit your taste. I tend to add a little more tahini because I don't like things so sweet.

  14. 14

    Kerstin — June 27, 2010 @ 5:20 pm Reply

    Haha – I'm glad you got the ingredients out of the waiter – looks incredible! And I always check out local grocery stores wherever we are too!

  15. 15

    vdubb — June 28, 2010 @ 3:22 pm Reply

    My mouth is watering right now! That looks so good!! Writing it down on my to do list right now! – Vicky

  16. 16

    preventionrd.com — June 28, 2010 @ 7:12 pm Reply

    Tahini is soooo delicious! I am doing to have to make this!

  17. 17

    *Naomi* — June 29, 2010 @ 12:27 am Reply

    this sounds so different and delicious! i want to make it asap!!

  18. 18

    Thinspired — June 29, 2010 @ 4:55 am Reply

    I'm definitely going to try this recipe–every time I defrost tilapia or cod, I never know what the heck to do with it! Love the honey in this :)

  19. 19

    <b>Oni Oost</b> — June 30, 2010 @ 1:14 pm Reply

    This post has been removed by the author.

  20. 20

    Oni (This Little Green Book) — June 30, 2010 @ 1:16 pm Reply

    I've just found your blog and what an amazing recipe to start with. I'll be trying this on tofu – can't wait to take a bite

  21. 21

    *Naomi* — April 5, 2011 @ 1:24 am Reply

    this sounds so different and delicious! i want to make it asap!!

  22. 22

    vdubb — April 5, 2011 @ 1:24 am Reply

    My mouth is watering right now! That looks so good!! Writing it down on my to do list right now! – Vicky

  23. 23

    Alexandra London-Gross — April 5, 2011 @ 1:24 am Reply

    Oh haloumi, how you have such a special place in my heart. That tahini sauce sounds amazing, I'll definitely have to try that soon!Alex @ ieatasphalt.com

  24. 24

    Barbara — April 5, 2011 @ 1:24 am Reply

    Wow. That's the way to perk up tilapia, Cara! Great sauce and because I love salmon more, I'll take your suggestion and try the sauce with that.

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