Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.
I Love Olive Garden, But May I Insert a Small Caveat?
First, let me state that I do not have a fear of dining in restaurants.
My family has (after many, many years) accepted my desire to create anything and everything related to food in our kitchen. While other people may watch an advertisement for a local restaurant and say, "Mmmm, that sounds good. Let's go there to eat," I always say, "Mmmm, that sounds good. I'll bet I can make that."
Such is the case with the most recent television commercial for Olive Garden's baked tilapia with shrimp.
I really like Olive Garden. I've eaten there many times and have enjoyed each and every meal. But.....I also enjoy cooking, enjoy finding ways of making new things, and enjoy Italian food. So, why not try to replicate a recipe from a place I hold near and dear to my heart?
Well, for one thing, I've not tasted the tilapia at Olive Garden. And, since it's being offered for a limited time only, the chances that I will eat there before it disappears are pretty slim. So, I'm exercising a tremendous amount of ego to offer this recipe, and, if you choose to use it, you are taking a giant leap of faith in my culinary skills. Let's jump off that cliff together, OK?
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
- red snapper
- orange roughy
- ocean perch
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 12 raw peeled deveined shrimp, large (about 26-30 per pound)
- 4 tilapia or other white fish filets, (see suggestions)
- 1 onion, medium, finely minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, (or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley, optional
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
- Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter in large sauté pan and heat over medium-high heat. Sauté shrimp for about 2 minutes per side or until almost cooked through. Remove to oven-safe dish and set aside.
- In the same pan cook the fish filets, 2-3 minutes per side or until almost cooked through. Place in oven-safe dish with the shrimp. Cover loosely with foil and place in oven to keep warm.
- To the same sauté pan add the shallot and garlic and 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté over medium-high heat until the shallot begins to soften and turn golden.
- Add wine to skillet, and boil on high heat until reduced by half, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cream, thyme, and salt and pepper.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 1 minute more—do not allow to boil.
- Divide the fish and shrimp evenly between 4 serving plates. Pour the wine cream sauce over and garnish with minced parsley if desired.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he (Jesus) gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. (Gospel of Mark 6:41)
The Tilapia Controversy
Some scholars believe that the two fish that fed the 5,000 were tilapia.
Tilapia fish continue to feed an amazing number of people, even in the 21st century. In 2014, Americans ate 475 million pounds of this once obscure African fish, four times more than a decade ago, making tilapia the most popular farmed fish consumed in the United States.
But, where are the farms? Most of the harvest comes from pens or cages in Latin America and Asia. At the Aquafinca Fish Farm on Lake Yojoa, tens of thousands of tilapia are hauled out of cages every day, filleted, and shipped by airplane to the United States, often appearing in restaurants within 12 hours.
Known in the food business as “aquatic chicken” because it breeds easily and tastes bland, tilapia is the perfect factory fish; it happily eats pellets made largely of corn and soy and gains weight rapidly, easily converting a diet that resembles chicken feed into low-cost seafood.
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice each week, but some scientists question the nutritional value of tilapia, and point to several environmental concerns.
Compared with other fish, farmed tilapia contains relatively small amounts of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, the fish oils that are the main reasons doctors recommend eating fish frequently (salmon has more than 10 times the amount of tilapia.) Also, farmed tilapia contains a less healthful mix of fatty acids because the fish are fed corn and soy instead of lake plants and algae, the diet of wild tilapia.
“It may look like fish and taste like fish but does not have the benefits — it may be detrimental,” said Dr. Floyd Chilton, a professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center who specializes in fish lipids (fats).
Environmentalists express concern for damage to the ecosystem. In South America and Asia, tilapia farmers often employ operating methods that would never be allowed in the United States. Defenders of tilapia aquaculture point out that this growing industry is improving standards and regulations. The Aquaculture Stewardship Council has developed an inspection program for tilapia farming. Those farms that participate, and pass, will then receive labels identifying their products as “responsibly farmed.”
Questions & Answers
Question: Is 150 degrees correct or should it be 350?
Answer: Actually, both of us were wrong. It should be 250 degrees (and I've made the change). As you know fish is very delicate and can go from great to ghastly in mere moments if you overcook it. The fish and shrimp should be "a-l-m-o-s-t" done when they go into the oven for safe-keeping. They will finish cooking in that cozy environment. Thanks so much for writing. I appreciate it.
© 2015 Linda Lum
Kierra on March 28, 2018:
my daughter literally licked her plate clean, I am making this tonight because it is seriously delicious!!!
Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 25, 2017:
Christal, I think this is your first visit to my page. I'm so glad that you found me today. And I'm thrilled that you tried and love the sauce. I can't disagree with the concept of using only one protein, but I was simply trying to replicate the Olive Garden special.
Tilapia isn't very exciting (as fish goes) but it's occasionally one sale where I live and I can't pass up a bargain. I love shrimp (any old time) and I find that prepared this way it doesn't matter if you use frozen.
Thank you so much for your kind words. I do hope you'll come back for a visit and check out a few more of my recipes. Have a great weekend!
Christal March on November 25, 2017:
This was good...We all agreed it would be better if only one protein was used..but I have to say the sauce is AMAZING..so far ive put it over chicken and tortellin..stuffed mushrooms and all alone with angel hair. This is a great way to get your family to eat and LOVE fish. Ps..there is another sub recipe for this using chicken stock instead of wine.dont do it...just dont.
Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 26, 2015:
Rachel - Thank you so much. I hope you and your family enjoy it.
Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on July 26, 2015:
Hi CarbDiva, This is a wonderful recipe. I have not tasted Olive Garden's version (notice I changed it around?), but I will taste your recipe. My family will love it too. Thanks for sharing. I gave it 5 stars.
Blessings to you.
Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on July 22, 2015:
Victoria - I agree, this would be equally good with just the tilapia. Served over some orzo, or fluffy white rice--yum. Thanks for your kind words and for sharing.
Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on July 22, 2015:
I like finding new tilapia recipes. I bet this would be good even without the shrimp, perhaps with some noodles to go with the creamy sauce. Yum! Pinning!
Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 13, 2015:
Kristen - Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words and support. I hope you enjoy it.
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 13, 2015:
Great recipe. It looks delicious even in the photos. Yum! Voted up!
Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 28, 2015:
Jackie - I have not tried the spinach appetizers at Olive Garden. Can you tell me about them?
Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 26, 2015:
Rachel - I have NOT tasted this at Olive Garden. Honestly, I just looked at the photo and tried my best to figure out what they did. I have no idea if it is a replica or not. Thank you for your kind words and your support.
Blessings on your day as well.
Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on February 26, 2015:
I love Olive Garden. This looks really good. I envy people who could pick out the ingredients in food they have at restaurants. You must have that talent. Looks great.
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on February 26, 2015:
Sounds great! I love Olive garden too; I don't think I have ever tasted anything bad there. I love their spinach appetizers too! Hope you have a recipe for those.
Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 25, 2015:
Hey Bill, that's what friends are for. So glad I could help. ;-)
But, all kidding aside, this is pretty easy to make. Add some good-quality bread to sop up the creamy sauce and a green salad (no spinach for you, I promise) and you're good to go.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 25, 2015:
I got hungry an hour ago and had three gum drops. Then you show up with this recipe and I'm screaming at the computer screen. Thanks a lot, Linda! :)
Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 25, 2015:
Dressage Husband - I hope it lives up to your expectations. We also eat mostly vegetarian, but have fish our fowl occasionally. I appreciate your support.
Stephen J Parkin from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada on February 25, 2015:
That looks absolutely delicious. I will have to bookmark this for a return visit!