Cajun Tilapia with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes Recipe

To enjoy a quick and easy dinner that was rated one of our best meals of 2017, try our pan-seared blackened Cajun tilapia with blistered cherry tomatoes recipe!

  • By Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor
  • June 13, 2018

June means sunshine, tank tops, movies in the park, and tomatoes. Wait, why tomatoes? Well, because tomatoes are in season starting June! Of course, you can eat tomatoes during winter and spring, but if you want to enjoy them to the fullest, buy them at their seasonal peak.

Since plants get nutrients from the sun and soil, the longer a tomato stays on the vine, the higher nutrient levels and the richer flavor it has. If you don’t believe it makes too much of a difference, sink your teeth into a ripe cherry tomato this week and you’ll experience the difference.

“This was so good! We absolutely loved this dish and already added it to our list of recipes to make for friends and family.”

— Lyndsey B.

Another perk of eating veggies at their seasonal peak is the price. Having an abundance of a particular veggie or fruit in the market will drive its price lower than when it is off-season. So, when you buy your cherry tomatoes for this Cajun tilapia dish, don’t shy away from picking up an extra carton or two for a great addition to any summer dinner!

To keep track of which vegetables are in season when, check out our Guide to Veggies Chart. It shows you which veggies to enjoy and when; plus, you can sign up to receive a free printable download of the chart.

While ripe cherry tomatoes have a sweet and fresh taste, searing them for our recipe will add a savory layer that pairs perfectly with our Creamy Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette. This flavorful sauce artfully mixes jalapeños, yogurt, honey, cilantro, lime, and mustard for a full spectrum of savory, sweet, sour, creamy, and aromatic.

In the midst of our bold sauce, we ensure that your fish has a fearless flavor that can stand on its own two feet. Adding butter and Cajun seasoning to the lightness of tilapia makes this recipe something to write home about. If you aren’t a big tilapia fan, you can always swap it with another white fish and still let the seasoning and vinaigrette work its magic in this household favorite.

Prepping Smarts

  • Make sure to wash your fish and pat it dry to remove any excess moisture. Doing so will keep the fish from getting tough and mushy while cooking. Plus, extra water will cause unwanted splatter when it touches butter in the hot pan! Learn how to prep fish with our video below.
  • We have a super smart hack for cutting many cherry tomatoes at once. All you need is a plastic lid and a serrated knife. Watch our demonstration video to learn how to save time halving tomatoes while preventing any juices from squirting you in the eye!

How to Rinse and Dry Fish

See how easy it is to quickly get fish ready for cooking.


Hack for Halving Cherry Tomatoes

See how easy it is to halve a lot of cherry or grape tomatoes in one slice with this great hack!

Equipment Smarts

  • If you cook at home a lot, having a quality saucepan is a must. This small cooking pot is perfect for cooking quinoa (or any other type of grain) to go with pan-seared fish.
  • A saute pan’s large surface area makes it ideal for searing proteins and veggies, which is why we use it for pan-seared tilapia and tomatoes.
  • An immersion blender goes by many names, including hand blender, stick blender, or wand blender. Unlike a standing blender, this kitchen appliance allows you to blend, chop, grind, or purée ingredients directly inside the pot / container they are already in. Say goodbye to extra dishes! Our favorite hand blender from Amazon is used to make a smooth and creamy vinaigrette to drizzle over fish, tomatoes, and quinoa.

For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools

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Cajun Tilapia with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes Recipe

Searing cherry tomatoes until they blacken and burst concentrates their flavor. It makes them a great topping for fish and quinoa in this quick stove top meal.

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 15 min

Total time: 35 min

Serves: 4


  • Quinoa, uncooked - 3/4 cup
  • Stock, any type - 1 1/2 cups
  • Limes - 1, wedges
  • Tomatoes, cherry or grape - 1 1/2 cups, halved
  • Tilapia - 4 fillets (sub any white fish)
  • Cajun seasoning - 4 tsp
  • Butter - 2 Tbsp
  • Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
  • Jalapenos - 1/4, chopped
  • Cilantro - 2 Tbsp, leaves torn and chopped
  • Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
  • Yogurt, plain or Greek - 1/3 cup
  • Oil, olive - 3 Tbsp
  • Lime juice - 2 tsp
  • Mustard, Dijon - 1 tsp
  • Honey - 1/4 tsp



  1. Quinoa – Combine quinoa with stock and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil covered. Lower heat, keep covered, and cook until liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat when finished to prevent burning / sticking. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Make creamy cilantro lime vinaigrette – Roughly chop jalapenos (you can skip these or use just a small amount if you prefer less spice), cilantro, and garlic. Combine with yogurt, olive oil, lime juice, mustard and honey. Blend with an immersion blender. Taste and season with some salt. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  3. Limes / Tomatoes – Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 2 days ahead)
  4. Tilapia – Rinse tilapia and pat dry. Season with Cajun seasoning and some salt (if salt is an ingredient in your Cajun seasoning, go easy on adding additional salt).


  1. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add butter and then tilapia to melted butter. Sear on both sides until fish is cooked through and flakes easily, 3 to 5 minutes total. Set tilapia aside and cover with foil to keep warm.
  2. Return pan to burner and increase to high heat. Add cooking oil and then tomatoes with a pinch of salt. Saute until tomatoes soften and start to blacken in spots, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. If quinoa was made ahead, reheat in the microwave.
  4. Serve tilapia and tomatoes over quinoa. Drizzle vinaigrette over top and add lime wedges on the side.

A little note: Some of the above links are Amazon affiliate links, which means we earn a small percentage from those sales. We use this affiliate revenue to support the continued growth of Cook Smarts. Thank you!

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Cajun Tilapia with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes Recipe | Cook SmartsCajun Tilapia with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes Recipe | Cook Smarts

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