by Erin Clarke


Southwest Tilapia Bowls

My husband and I recently celebrated our three-year wedding anniversary, and while we still have a long journey ahead of us, evidence suggests we’ve already hit “old married couple” status.

Our most heated disagreements are about the proper way to load the dishwasher (my way). Our typical Friday night is spent on the couch, watching reruns of The West Wing. We dispute whether the television should be turned to ESPN or The Food Network. Flash forward 50 years, and I suspect our lives will look quite similar, though hopefully we’ll have found a new TV show to watch on Friday nights.

Friends of ours who are newly engaged will occasionally ask us (largely in jest) for our “seasoned” marriage advice. In addition to the usual tips such as, “say thank you” and “don’t keep score,” I have one bit of advice that is less traditional: cook southwest-inspired food.

No southwestern food/Tex-Mex doesn’t have magical relationship powers (though with the amount of guacamole I can consume in a single sitting, I wish it did), nor is it an instant recipe for romance. Rather, it happens to be one of meals my husband and I both enjoy the most. No matter how long a day we’ve each had, sharing dinner at the end of it helps us relax, and for whatever reason, anything southwest-inspired is particularly rejuvenating. Maybe that guac has special powers after all.

One meal that I make often is Chipotle-inspired burrito bowls. Though the exact spices and protein in the bowls may change, the base always begins with a fast and flavorful skillet of beans and rice. For quick weeknight prep, I cook instant brown rice with sautéed onions, peppers, fire roasted tomatoes and chilis. By the time I stir in the black beans, it’s almost a meal unto itself.

Though I most add chicken to our “burrito bowls,” I recently decided to vary our routine with Omaha Steaks Tortilla-Crusted Tilapia Fillets. The southwest seasonings and lime flavor on the fish’s crispy exterior were the perfect complement to the beans and rice. Not only were the fillets much more exciting than ho-hum chicken breast, they were completely hands off to prepare. I simply placed the tilapia on a baking sheet, popped them into the oven, and in 22 minutes, our dinner was served.

For a final flourish, I recommend topping these Southwest Tilapia Bowls with all of the fixin’s: sour cream and cilantro are musts, and I imagine that salsa, diced avocado, and even chopped jalapenos would be tasty too.

Now that we have our marital menu under control, I just need to convince my husband to load the dishwasher properly. Wish me luck!


Southwest Tilapia Bowls

  • 4 Omaha Steaks Tortilla Crusted Tilapia Fillets
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 2 cups instant brown rice
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 (10-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Sour cream, for serving
  • Freshly chopped cilantro, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place tilapia fillets on a foil lined baking sheet leaving 3-4 inches between each.
  3. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high.
  5. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the rice, chili powder, cumin, and salt and sauté until the rice is coated with oil and the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.
  7. Add the diced tomatoes and green chilies in their juices and 1 cup water.
  8. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
  9. Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  10. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the beans, then recover and let sit 5 additional minutes, until the rice is soft and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  11. To serve, pile the rice and beans into the bottom of a serving bowl, then top with a cooked tilapia fillet.
  12. Garnish with sour cream, cilantro, and lime. Serve immediately.


Beans and Rice Skillet


Final Dish - Vertical Option 1


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About the Author

Erin Clarke is dedicated to wholesome food that tastes incredible. On her blog, Well Plated by Erin (, she shares approachable recipes for lightened-up comfort foods, healthier baked treats, and seasonal eating. She passionately believes that family dinner can be special without being complicated and that one need not sacrifice taste to enjoy a balanced diet. The Huffington Post named her as a “Best Food Blog for Eating on a Budget,” and her recipes have been featured on TODAY, Oprah, Parade, The Kitchn, and Cosmopolitan. She conducts televised cooking demonstrations and resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When Erin’s not in the kitchen, you’ll find her out running, working on long overdue photo projects, and exploring Milwaukee’s local food scene. She owns far too many plaid shirts and is convinced that bourbon should be classified as a condiment.

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