Liven up your weekday dinner with these quick but delicious seasoned baked catfish fillets topped with melted cheese, tomato and fresh basil.
This post is sponsored by The Catfish Institute. The opinions contained within are my own.
August has been designated as National Catfish Month since 1998. Catfish farming is a big industry in my home state of Mississippi. Did you know, ninety-four percent of the farm-raised catfish sold in the United States comes from just four states — Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana? However, in 2020, Mississippi ranked number one.
We eat catfish frequently in my house. Whenever I feel like I’m getting in a dinner rut, I add a catfish dish to that week’s menu. U.S. Farm-Raised catfish has a clean taste, which means my boys love it and it adapts well to a variety of seasonings.
Why I Only Serve U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish
If you’ve followed this blog or any of my social media outlets, you know I have been very vocal over the fact that I never purchase catfish fillets that don’t bear the U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish seal. Overseas catfish farms are not held to the same quality and sanitation conditions as U.S. farms. Only 1% of the seafood imported into the U.S. is tested or inspected by the FDA. And finally, labeling fraud is a common practice. What you may think is catfish is actually a cheaper, less desirable species of fish.
In the mid-1980’s, catfish farmers in the United States joined together and voluntarily set higher standards for their products. The guidelines mandate everything from the type of pond the fish are raised in, to the quality of water, the food and the cleanliness of the processors.
Presenting the 2020 Catfish Farmers of the Year
Every year, one farmer from each the top three catfish-producing states is chosen as Catfish Farmer of the Year. These individuals are selected based on their contributions to the U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish industry and who embody the spirit of the American farmer. This year’s Catfish Farmers of the Year are Luke Smelley of Greensboro, Alabama; Terry Kruse of McCrory, Arkansas; and Will Nobile of Moorhead, Mississippi.
What makes something Caprese?
Caprese is traditionally a salad made with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Its origins are Italian and the red, white and green colors of the salad are meant to represent the flag of Italy.
Only, we’re not making a salad here. We’re layering those same ingredients over seasoned baked catfish fillets. As the fish bakes, the mozzarella cheese melts and the tomato becomes warm and juicy. The result? Delicious. Even better? The recipe requires only a few simple ingredients and takes minutes to prepare.
Fresh vs. Packaged Mozzarella
For this recipe, I skipped the prepackaged mozzarella and spend a little extra money for the good stuff. Fresh mozzarella has a soft texture and mild flavor. It’s absolutely divine for dishes like this one where a good stringy, cheese melt is mandatory.
How to Prepare Caprese Baked Catfish Fillets
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degree F. While the oven is preheating, pat four U.S. Farm-Raised catfish fillets dry with a paper towel. Removing the extra moisture ensures that our seasoning mixture will adhere to the outside of the fillets and form an ever-so-slightly crispy texture to the outside of the fillets.
Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Arrange the fillets in a single layer on the foil. Brush the outside of each fillet with a light coat of olive oil.
In a small dish, combine ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, one teaspoon of salt and one tablespoon of Italian seasoning. Sprinkle the fillets with the seasoning mixture. Carefully turn the fish over and repeat with a coating of olive oil and seasoning.
Place one slice of fresh mozzarella on top of each seasoned catfish fillet. Place one slice of tomato over the mozzarella cheese. Bake the fillets at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until the mozzarella is melted and the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
Just before serving, sprinkle the top of each catfish fillet with the fresh basil. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the top.
More Catfish Recipe Ideas:
- Lemon Pepper Catfish Fillets
- Southern Fried Catfish
- Cornbread And Shrimp Stuffed Catfish Fillets
- Blackened Catfish With Creole Sauce
- Sauteed Catfish Fillet With Creole Mustard Sauce
- Skillet Grilled Catfish
Caprese Baked Catfish Fillets
- 4 catfish fillets
- Olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
- 4 slices ripe tomato
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.
- Pat the catfish fillets dry with a paper towel.
- Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Arrange the fillets in a single layer on the foil. Brush the outside of each fillet with a light coat of olive oil.
- In a small dish, combine the garlic powder, onion powder, ground black pepper, salt and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle the fillets with the seasoning mixture. Carefully turn the fish over and repeat with a coating of olive oil and seasoning.
- Place one slice of fresh mozzarella on top of each seasoned catfish fillet. Place one slice of tomato over the mozzarella cheese. Bake the fillets at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until the mozzarella is melted and the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
- Just before serving, sprinkle the top of each catfish fillet with the fresh basil. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the top.