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Tilapia With Shrimp Recipe: Another Olive Garden Copycat

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?

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

15 min

20 min


Tilapia Substitutes

  • red snapper
  • orange roughy
  • flounder
  • ocean perch
  • hake
  • catfish


  • 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


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 1 minute more—do not allow to boil.
  7. 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)

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Read More From Delishably

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

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