Baked Lemon-Garlic Tilapia, Yam Rounds, Zucchini


Synergy achieves something higher, better, not achievable by the individual parts. 1 + 1 = 3. It’s like putting an outfit together using ordinary accessories and creating the “Wow!” factor. If the pieces aren’t working together, you may not get that ‘second look’ as you walk down the street…

That is what happened with tonight’s dinner.  Each part was delicious.  The family LOVED the tilapia, LOVED the Yams, and the kids did not reject the zucchini. (That is a good thing.) But the meal didn’t work together to produce the “degustation” that gets the oohs and ahhhs of an amazing meal. Between you and me, it was the seasoning of the yams that got in the way.  I flavored them the way I usually do with cinnamon and a few drips of maple syrup.  It was delicious but didn’t add to the synergy of the meal. It felt like it belonged to a different meal.

I got started on this meal a day ahead when I cooked the yams in the oven for about an hour.  I stored them in the refrigerator until I was ready to use them.  Making the tilapia was very easy.  I rinsed the fish and patted dry.  I poured the lemon juice on top of the fish, sprinkled on the spices, and placed in the oven. While the tilapia was cooking, I cut the yams into rounds, sprinkled cinnamon and drizzled a bit of maple syrup and warmed in the microwave.  Next I cut the zucchini and quickly sautéed in a pan lightly sprayed with olive oil.  I sprinkled a pinch of salt on top.  I plated everything and served.

The Verdict

As I mentioned, everyone loved the components of the meal.  But as my daughter deftly, or not so deftly, pointed out, “I like everything, but it doesn’t go together.” The easy fix: season the yams with something more savory. Perhaps just a pinch of salt. I think the cinnamon and maple take away from the dish at large.  Or substitute the yams with a different vegetable.    Lesson learned: Think Synergy!


Baked Lemon-Garlic Tilapia, Yam Rounds, Zucchini

Serves 2 Adults and 2 Kids

Baked Lemon Garlic Tilapia, Yam Rounds and Zucchini

Baked Lemon Garlic Tilapia, Yam Rounds and Zucchini


2 yams

1.75 lbs. tilapia fillets

3 T fresh lemon juice

1 t basil

1 t dried parsley flakes

1 t paprika

1 t dried thyme

1/2 t salt + a pinch

2 zucchini

pepper to taste

Make Ahead

1. Bake yams in 350 oven for 45 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. If time has passed you by on this one, and that has happened to me more than once, pull a frozen vegetable out of the freezer and cook that in the microwave.


Pre heat oven to 375
1. Lightly spray a roasting pan.

2. Measure out and combine spices.

3. Place tilapia in pan, and pour lemon juice on top, followed by spices.

4. Place in oven for 20-30 minutes or until tilapia cracks and springs back to the touch.

5. Consider making the brown rice for tomorrow…

6. While tilapia is cooking, slice zucchini, place in a sauté pan lightly sprayed with canola oil and sauté until just tender. Add 1/2 T butter or vegetable based margarine on zucchini and sprinkle one pinch of salt.

7. Cut yams into 1/2″ rounds.  sprinkle two pinches of salt on top – just enough to catch the taste buds, and warm in the microwave for 45 seconds – 1 minute or until just cooked through.

8.  Plate yams, zucchini and fish and serve!

Pre Prep Opportunities

1. Make the yams earlier in the week and store in the refrigerator.

2. Cut zucchini and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

3. Pre-measure spices for fish and store in an airtight container until ready to use.