Last week, I shared the appetizer that Chef Zissie and I shared together in her home. We devoured crunchy toasted bread topped with creamy charred pepper feta dip and roasted eggplant salad and I couldn’t get enough of it! So now it’s time for the main dish and boy is it a good one. Chef Zissie seriously knows what I like and she went all out. I mean, braised whole tilapia with an herbaceous sauce filled with fresh ingredients and a rich tomato broth. And she didn’t stop there! To serve along side that beautiful fish, Chef Zissie layered together a cheesy vegetable moussaka with caramelized onions, mushrooms, white beans, garbanzo beans, Greek yogurt, ricotta and cheddar cheese. What a great way to spend the day!

While the vegetable moussaka baked to rich and velvety perfection in the oven, Chef Zissie worked on the whole tilapia! Don’t worry, you can make this dish with tilapia filets if you don’t want to work with the whole fish.

And there you have it. Dig in but don’t forget to save room for dessert…coming soon!

Braised Whole Tilapia with Tomato Herb Sauce
Vegetable Moussaka

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1 whole tilapia, scales removed and gutted (they can do this for you in the fish store)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 small onion, sliced
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 hot peppers, chopped
1 16 oz. can whole tomatoes (reserve the sauce)
1/4 cup fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh oregano
1 Tbsp lemon zest (zest of 1 lemon)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper
1/2 an eggplant, sliced
2 large onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup white button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup ricotta
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 16 oz can white beans, strained
1 16 oz can garbanzo beans, strained
2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Sriracha
salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the whole tomatoes, chopped hot peppers and 4 minced garlic cloves on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and roast 30 minutes until golden and cooked through. Set aside.
Place a large deep pan with the vegetable oil over high heat. Season the whole tilapia with salt and pepper and when the oil is very hot, carefully put the fish in the pan and turn down the heat slightly to medium-high.
While the fish is cooking, add in the onion and remaining garlic.
Flip the fish after 4 minutes and add the lemon zest, vegetable stock and 3 tablespoons of the sauce from the can of tomatoes. Cook 4 more minutes.
Add the fresh herbs, cover the pan, and place it in the oven. Cook the fish for 10 minutes.
Serve the fish surrounded by the onions, tomatoes and herbs.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the eggplant slices in a large casserole dish, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 40 minutes.
Place a large pan with the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vegetable stock and chopped garlic and cook 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes. Add the garbanzo beans, white beans, Sriracha, salt and pepper. Cook 5 more minutes then remove the onion mixture from the stove.
In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, ricotta, eggs, parsley, mint, cilantro, salt and pepper.
Assemble: Leave the eggplants in the casserole dish and then top with the onion mixture, then top it with the yogurt mixture. Top with the shredded cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, until the cheese is golden and the mixture has set.