The Super Simple, 7 Ingredient Fish and Veggies


This is a post from Rebel Chef Noel.

It’s confession time. Ready? Here goes…

I have always hated water levels.

I hate them because I totally suck at them. That music still haunts me. (I’m not alone in this, right?)

My very first game system growing up was the NES, and my favorite game was Super Mario Bros. 3, but every time I got to World 3: Ocean Side, it was Game Over. It wasn’t until I teamed up with friends who could show me how to make it through the levels that I was able to make it to World 4. Go team!


Cooking can be the water level of getting healthy for some folks. You’ve completed other levels, you’ve gotten active, set up your batcave, and maybe even figured out how to make healthy choices in restaurants.

But when it comes to cooking, it’s Game Over for you.

Well, I’ve got good news, gang. I’m here today to be your player 2 and show you how to get past this mega challenge.

This fish tastes like fish. I’m not gonna lie to you.  It is a mild recipe, but if you don’t like fish, look away (or try one of our other awesome recipes…). But if you do like fish, and have never tried to cook it because it seems difficult, listen up. This one’s for you.

This colorful recipe takes about 20 minutes (15 of those minutes are just waiting for it to cook!), and only uses 7 ingredients.

(Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a printable recipe and shopping list.)

It’s easier than stomping goombas.

Fish and Veggies


Active time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10-15 minutes

Serves: 1

  1. Tilapia or any other white fish filet – cod, mahi mahi, or trout all work just fine. Check out for your best environmentally friendly options.
  2. 1/2 a lemon
  3. 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
  4. 1/2 zucchini
  5. 1/2 yellow squash
  6. 5 cherry tomatoes
  7. Spices: salt, pepper & red pepper flake (okay, so maybe I cheated a little with this 7 ingredient thing…)



  • Baking tray
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Paper towels – to dry the fish off
  • Aluminum foil or parchment paper – if you’re new to this cooking thing, I strongly suggest using aluminum foil.


1. Wash your hands and your veggies.

2. Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F (207 C)

3. Cut the zucchini and yellow squash into quarter pieces. They’ll be kind of like triangles but the side with the skin on it will be rounded.


4. Cut your lemon in half. Set it aside. We’ll use this later.


5. Cut a piece of parchment or aluminum foil about 2 ft (2/3 meters).


6. Place the cut zucchini, squash, and whole cherry tomatoes down in the center of the parchment. Now you have a pile of geometric shapes!


7. Pour 1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil over the veggies. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and some red pepper flake.


8. Now take the fish out of whatever package it came in and place the filet on top of the pile of veggies.

9. Pour your remaining 1 tbsp (15 ml) of olive oil on top of the fish, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and red pepper flake.


10. Now find your lemon. Did you lose it already? Awe man! But really, squeeze the juice from half of the lemon onto the fish.


11. Wrap the fish up. Origami was always really hard for me as a kid (and I guess now as an adult too), so I hope these folding instructions are better than the origami instructions I’ve used in the past…Start by folding the right and left sides into the center on top of the food pile. Crease where you fold it over.

If origami + cooking sounds like a nightmare, you can skip this step and just bake the fish and veggies on the parchment or foil for about 5 min longer. (Or you can use foil for easy folding!) The big plus about folding your parchment this way is that it makes cleanup crazy easy. No juices or oils leak onto the pan and you can just toss the parchment in the trash when you’re finished! Choose wisely….



Now fold the bottom into the center. Crease where you fold.


Now fold the top into the center also and crease.We want the packet to form a tiny pouch to concentrate the heat and steam the fish and veggies together, so we’ll need it to stay closed. The way I got the packet to stay closed was to fold the bottom and the top flaps where they come together in the center.

Warning: Do not use tape. Tape will probably melt or burn in your oven and ruin your meal.

Then, take the right and left sides and tuck and fold those under also, creasing as you go. Make sure you crease the sides really well on this step. This will hold it together. The sides being folded this way should keep the packet closed and sealed.


12. If you’re using aluminum foil instead of parchment, this step will be way easier because foil maintains its shape where you bend it. If you have the skill, feel free bend your aluminum foil into a swan or something, as long as the fish and veggies stay sealed inside. (If you do this, please send us a picture and show us your mad skillz.)

13. Throw that packet of food on a baking tray and cook it in the oven for 15 minutes.


14. When the cooking time is up, take it out and let it cool for 2-3 minutes before you chow down. You can scoop the food onto a plate or eat it straight out of the packet.


There ya go. Pretty easy meal, no?

Cue the fireworks!


There ya have it. 7 ingredients. 20 minutes. Level up.

I’m terrible at planning ahead, so quick easy meals like this are ideal when it comes to making good food choices on the fly. Knowing I have ingredients that I can whip into a healthy meal when I get home prevents me from stopping for junk food on my way home from work.

Cooking doesn’t have to be intimidating and it doesn’t have to take forever. It can be quick and easy. With a little patience, persistence, and sometimes help from a player 2, you can level up your health. Maybe you can even be someone else’s player 2 in the future and help them learn to cook an awesome meal!

What are some things you’d like to cook but are shying away from?

What parts of cooking are you struggling with the most?

What are some of your favorite quick and easy go-to meals?

Share with the class! Let us know in the comments!



PS: Note from Steve: Camp Nerd Fitness has begun, and all of Team NF is in attendance.  We’ll be sharing photos through our Facebook and Instagram accounts (and mine too!). Follow the hashtag #CampNerdFitness if you want to follow along – we’ll be posting recaps soon.  

Just a heads up that our email response time will be slow for the next week as we’re getting caught up, thanks for your patience!

7 Ingredient Fish and Veggies
Recipe Type: Lunch, DInner
Cuisine: Seafood, fish
Author: Noel
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
7 ingredient, 20 minute fish dish! Easier than stomping goombas!
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 a yellow squash
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, & red pepper flake (to taste)
  1. Wash your hands and your veggies
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (207 C)
  3. Cut your zucchini and yellow squash into bite sized pieces
  4. Cut your lemon in half
  5. Cut a 2 ft (2/3 meter) piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil
  6. Place your zucchini, squash, and cherry tomatoes in the center of the paper or foil
  7. Pour 1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil onto the veggies
  8. Sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and red pepper flake
  9. Rinse off your fish and pat dry
  10. Place fish on top of the veggies.
  11. Pour 1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil onto the fish
  12. Sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and red pepper flake
  13. Squeeze half of your lemon onto the fish
  14. Fold up the paper/foil so that it makes a sealed packet
  15. Place packet on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes
  16. When it’s done cooking, take it out and let it sit for 2-3 minutes so you don’t burn yourself
  17. Unwrap your meal and put it on a plate (or eat it straight out of the paper!)
  18. Enjoy your meal!
Shopping list! (makes 2 of this recipe)[br]2 tilapia filets[br]1 zucchini[br]1 lemon[br]1 yellow squash[br]1 package of cherry tomatoes[br]Olive oil[br]salt[br]pepper[br]red pepper flake


Photos: Great Bit Blog, Mario Wiki, Games Radar

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    51 thoughts on “The Super Simple, 7 Ingredient Fish and Veggies

    1. I made an even easier one last night. Meatloaf. You take one pepper (your choice of color), 1 medium onion and sautee them in a pan until they get a little soft. I used coconut oil to sautee them in. Add whatever seasoning you like and then mix in one package of ground turkey (1.25 lbs) and 2 eggs. Put them in a muffin tin and bake at 400 until the internal temp reaches 165. Pull them out and let them rest…..thats it. Really simple and is probably the juciest meatloaf I have ever had. Serve with steamed broccoli or a salad and you have a complete meal.

    2. Would this recipe work with frozen fish fillets, as well? If so, how would you adjust the cooking time.

    3. You are most assuredly not alone it hating water levels. Even the pesky little, perfunctory bit of swimming you do in Darksiders 1 & 2 brings back some bad Mario-related PTSD.

    4. I would think you would have to thaw the fish before cooking. Once thawed, then you can cook it like normal. I’ve never had a partially-thawed fish cook very well for me. The inside doesn’t cook well when it’s still frozen. But that’s just my personal experience. 🙂

    5. Noel, this looks so tasty! I’m picking up a box of CSA veggies today, and I think they’d be put to good use in a dish like this. Do you live in a place where you can get good fish pretty easily? I’m completely landlocked, I’m afraid…
      And spoiler alert, I added fish/some meat back into my diet, so I’m putting this one on the list to make. :9

    6. The water levels in Mario games are easy – try Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES.

      Anyhoo – curry spices are also a great way to dress fish, and they’re great for veggies too. Toast then grind (using pestle and mortar or spice grinder if you have one) cumin seeds, all spice, coriander seeds for a delicious rub – season with nam pla (thai fish sauce). Mybe add a little coconut milk if you want.

      Also tinfoil works better – just fold it together over the food and scrunch it shut.

    7. I’m all about the omelette right now. Super quick to make, easy to fill with lots of veggies or meat for extra protein. Only trick is perfecting my technique, mine never look as fancy as the ones on the YouTube videos I’ve been learning from. Still, they always taste great even when they look like shambles!

    8. Tried this tonight with Barramundi (“the sustainable sea bass”) from Costco. Thawed the filets (I did 2 packets) in a bowl with cold water running at a trickle on them while I chopped the veggies – perfect timing (but maybe I cut slowly, I dunno). My filets needed a couple extra minutes to be fully done, but that will vary by size. I also decided 2 things about when I do this recipe again (which I will for sure!). First, I will use aluminum foil instead of parchment paper (way easier for re-closing if a few extra minutes are needed for the fish to get done); and second, I will cut the oil in half – maybe I’m just not a big oil person but 2 Tbsp per serving seemed like too much when I was eating, I could almost feel the oil accumulating on my face. Otherwise an excellent and simple recipe!

    9. Yes, you need to thaw first. Put your filets in a big bowl in the sink and turn on the cold water to just a trickle (well, fill the bowl first, then turn it down to a trickle) – they should thaw in about 10-15 minutes.

    10. Can you do an article on…how to use the oven? Especially the part about pre-heating it.

      I know they come in different button configurations and it may not be feasible to write up a general how-to, but it would be helpful to have the procedure written down: exactly when to press the pre-heat button, what to expect, when to put in the food and what not to do (is it safe to keep the oven at a pre-heated state for long, for example?).

    11. When squeezing the 1/2 of lemon, keep your free hand underneath it, palm cupped, to catch the seeds as they fall. Otherwise you’ll have to painstakingly take them out of the dish one by one.
      Also, you could sear the fillet before baking for like 20 seconds per side (super-hot pan, a tablespoon of oil, pat the fish completely dry before you put it there) to make the dish even tastier. Of course, then you’ll need to adjust the temperature / cooking time.
      Although I find that when cooking at 200 degrees Celsius you have a big margin for error – it’s hard to overcook stuff. Especially wrapped, and with veggies inside.

    12. Any chance on an article about chopping the various veggies? Stuff like the best way to dice and slice?

    13. I love ‘The 3 Week Diet’ because plan was so refreshing and so simple to follow.

      I did everything they said and lost 23 pounds in first three weeks.

      I decided to buy after reading this review:

    14. It’s best to pre-heat the oven for as long as it takes to get to the right temperature – so the higher the temperature you need the longer it’ll take. Most ovens have a little light that either comes on or turns off at the set temperature. If yours doesn’t have an indicator get an oven thermometer and time how long it takes to heat up to the temperature you want.

      My oven is a good one, a Neff, and it takes about 15 mins to get to 200 degrees centigrade (medium).

      Don’t leave your oven on for ages – they use a lot of energy – find how long it takes your oven to heat and add it to the cooking/service time.

    15. Always presuming your comment was tongue in cheek, I almost (but not quite), wet myself reading it! Loved it.

    16. Still laughing at the guy who wrote about water world PTSD. Today’s gamers don’t have a clue.

      I really dig this recipe because the ingredients are super cheap, the most expensive part is the fish, but I’m betting tilapia isn’t the only kind that would taste amazing this way. I’ve done something similar with cod and tuna steaks, and it turned out fantastic. Time is something few of us have much of anymore, and it’s all too easy to stop at the closest artery clogger drive-thru rather than prepare a healthy meal. This makes things a lot easier, and a great deal healthier.

    17. CSAs are amazing! You get to try so much stuff you wouldn’t otherwise pick up at the grocery store! Super cool!

      I live in the desert. Nowhere near fresh fish. Are you switching from a plant based diet?

      When I switched lifestyles it took me a long time to get used to cooking meat. I always over cooked it because I was afraid of food borne illness.

      With fish, your safest bet is previously frozen fish. Trader Joes has really great quality fish. If you are just starting out cooking meats and you’re concerned, get a meat thermometer and stickit into the fish before you put it in the oven. Fish cooks to 145 F (63 C). Or just cook it until it’s opaque and flakes easily. Good luck! And if you have questions, feel free to email me at Noel(at)nerdfitness(dot)com . Thanks for the comment!

    18. Oh man. I never played TMNT on NES. Sounds like I wasn’t missing out! Great suggestions regarding curry spices! I’m thinking about adding those to my cooking arsenal!

      And yes, foil is way easier to use than parchment. But parchment works too if you can get it to stay 🙂

      Thanks for the comment!

    19. Hey Ryan! It just takes practice! It took me years to be able to be able to flip it in the pan. Keep at it! You’ll be an omelet master in no time!

      Do you have a non stick pan? What are your favorite things to put in your omelets?

      Thanks for the comment! Keep cookin’!

    20. Haha! Thanks! I didn’t realize i was leaving folks out in my other recipes! (Ps, all the recipes in the academy and Paleo Central app have metric conversions too!)

    21. Thanks for trying out the recipe and leaving a review! I’ll keep that in mind when I add this recipe to the Academy and Paleo Central app!

      Keep on cookin’!

    22. Great suggestion Marcia! I’ll see what I can do!

      Stackmonster’s tips were spot on. Especially the part about the indicator light (and using an oven thermometer if your oven doesn’t have an indicator). It’s super important that you let the oven heat up to the right temp before you put your food inside. Also, be sure to remember to set a timer or use a meat thermometer. Otherwise your food might either burn or be undercooked! Super bummer.

      What kind of oven do you have? If you need more help, email me at noel(at)nerdfitness(dot)com and we’ll see if I can help you one on one!

      Thanks for the question! I’m sure lots of other people have the same questions as you!

    23. Thanks for the comment Brett! Cod is a great cheap option. Usually I just use whatever is on sale at the nearest store.

      Love your point about lack of time we have these days. I love to cook and even I have a hard time resisting going out for a quick unhealthy meal on bad/busy days.

      True fact about today’s gamers. I pulled out the NES after writing this article. With no save points and 1ups you have to work for, those games are almost impossible! We live for the challenge though don’t we!

    24. Thanks for the reply, Noel.

      My oven is a hybrid that can do both microwave heating and (probably) infrared heating.

      I have actually used the pre-heating technique a few times in my life. The thing I still can’t get over is the sense of being rushed by the need to multitask between preparing the ingredients and checking in on the oven. Although I know my oven is smart enough to notify me with the beeping sound when it’s properly pre-heated.

      A meat thermometer sounds neat. It’d be super helpful to have a concrete number to base my decisions on. Being a software engineer, I love it when everything can be written down as an algorithm.

      As I’m currently training myself to use the food processor, I’ll set the oven as my next cooking skill practice target.

    25. What about peppers? I don’t really like the tiny tomatoes but the rest look amazing and delicious, and I must admit never having tilapia before. Is it dense or flaky? Perhaps if I find that out I can relate it to something more familiar? I see people posting with substitutes they’ve used, and fish is something the doc has said lately would be a great addition to my family’s diet, especially with the last checkup showing rising cholesterol levels despite a relatively healthy lifestyle.

    26. Trying this tonight! Thanks Noel 🙂 I didn’t have the right veggies on hand, so I’m trying green beans and potato cubes. Wish me luck!

    27. Peppers would work great! If there’s ever an ingredient you don’t like or don’t have on hand, feel free to substitute it with something you do enjoy!

      Tilapia is a light, flakey fish. It’s kind of like cod or halibut.

      I’ll get some more fish recipes up in the future! It’s a great addition to any diet, especially if you’re looking for a little more variety. 🙂 Hope you enjoy it if you try it!

    28. It turned out GREAT. I finished the veggies off in a skillet to soften them up further, and had some mango salsa with the fish. Definitely going to be a quick & easy staple!

    29. There’s no need to feel rushed. Generally, once an oven is pre-heated, it will stop heating and let itself cool off to a certain point. Then it will re-heat itself so that it stays around the right temperature.

      There’s no danger in preheating it ahead of time as long as you don’t keep other cooking supplies in the oven and forget to remove them before preheating. Just remember to take everything out of the oven before you turn it on. 🙂

      You’re absolutely right about the meat thermometer. I was a vegetarian for a long time, and when I started to incorporate meat into my diet, I wanted to be absolutely sure that I wasn’t going to undercook it and make myself sick. Meat thermometers tell you the internal temperature of what you’re cooking so that you can be sure it’s safe. Plus you can be sure that you’re not OVER cooking it!

      Awesome! What are you learning to make in the food processor? That’s one of my favorite kitchen tools.

      Have fun!

    30. So tried this (twice) over the last week and while I like the simplicity and ease, still not a fan of fish (though it’s nice to know I now know at least one way to cook/prepare fish).

      How well does this work with a chicken breast instead?

    31. Yes, I just got a new pair of nonstick pans from Costco, it’s working well so far!

      My favorite so far is spinach, mushroom, and sausage. Tomatoe and Brocholli sprouts also turns out nice. Sometime I’ll use a little cheese, but usually not since I try to eat most paleo-ish.

    32. This was a easy popular dish with my family ,I had already cooked a bag of baby potatoes so I cut them in half and put them all over the fish pie and then the cheese on top this went down a treat and made a lovely change from mash potato !

      370 Paleo Recipes

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