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Crispy, Quinoa Coated Fish

Delicious, crispy, pan-seared fish coated in quinoa. A great alternative to breading or deep frying!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: basil pesto, crispy fish, orzo, quinoa, snapper, tomatoes
Servings: 2
Author: Nicole Coudal


  • 2 8-oz pieces White, flaky fish (Snapper, Cod, Halibut, other); cleaned and deboned
  • 1/4 tsp. Blackening spice, seasoned salt or Potlach seasoning
  • 1/4 c. All-purpose flour
  • 1 Egg, well-beaten
  • 1 c. Cooked, tri-color quinoa (see instructions below)
  • 1 Tb. Olive oil
  • 1 Tb. Butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 c. Dry orzo
  • 1 c. Grape or Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Handful fresh basil, for garnish (optional)


  • 1 c. Fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 c. Fresh parsley
  • 1 clove Garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 c. Grated parmesan
  • 1 Lemon, zested
  • 1/4 c. Toasted pine nuts or walnuts (or roasted sunflower seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c. Olive oil (add a bit more if consistency is too dry)


Prepare the Quinoa (ideally, make in advance)

  • Cook quinoa according to package instructions (I generally place 1 cup dry quinoa into a small saucepan, add 2 cups water and bring to boil. Once it boils, cover, remove from heat, and allow to continue cooking, off-heat. After about 20 minutes, uncover and fluff with a fork). Set aside 1 cup for this recipe.

Prepare the Pesto (ideally, make in advance OR use store-bought!)

  • Place all ingredients (up to black pepper) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times then, in continuous mode, drizzle olive oil through the pour spout. When well-combined, taste for seasoning (salt, pepper and/or lemon), then transfer to a container. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top to keep it from browning and cover tightly. Set aside until ready to use in this recipe (then refrigerate unused pesto).

Prepare the Orzo & Tomatoes

  • Place dry orzo in a small sauce pan; add about 2 cups of water (precise measurements are not necessary, since it cooks like pasta). Bring to boil and simmer until tender. Keep it in the cooking liquid until ready to use!
  • Place tomatoes in small saute pan over medium heat with about 1 Tb. olive oil; sprinkle with a pinch of Kosher salt & fresh black pepper. Cook until soft and browned (~ 5 mins). Turn off heat and let sit until fish is ready.
  • While orzo and tomatoes cook, prepare 3 bowls/plates - one for flour, one for beaten egg, one for cooked quinoa. Sprinkle both sides of fish with preferred seasoning. Dredge in flour, then egg, then quinoa. Use your fingers to press the quinoa onto both sides of fish.
  • Heat a non-stick skillet over medium/high heat with 1 tb. olive oil and 1 tb. unsalted butter. When hot, add fish. Reduce heat to medium and cook 3-4+ minutes on first side (until golden brown color) then flip and cook 3-4+ minutes, depending on thickness of fish. I find it helpful to cover the pan lightly after flipping so the fish steams in its final cooking time. When firm to the touch, it's done.
  • Remove cooked orzo using slotted spoon; transfer to a mixing bowl (retain the starchy cooking liquid!). Add about 2 Tb. of pesto and mix together. Add a teaspoon at a time of the cooking liquid to create a silky sauce (and feel free to add more pesto if you like a punch of flavor).
  • To serve, spoon orzo mixture onto a plate, top with fish and tomatoes (and chopped, fresh basil, if you have it).