When you think of legendary singer Patti LaBelle, you might remember her mouthwatering sweet potato pies that went flying off the shelves back in 2015. For the festive season, this music icon is sharing the “New Attitude” she adapted in the kitchen some time ago: Your holiday fare can be both wholesome and delicious.

LaBelle, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1995, has changed her diet considerably over the years. She’s used her culinary skills to discover fresh, healthy dishes that don’t skimp on flavor. “I’m incorporating better foods for my family while I’m here at home,” LaBelle says. “Instead of fried chicken, I’ll sauté or bake it. My saviors are [hot] peppers and fresh garlic, because they heighten the flavor of all my meals.”

One of LaBelle’s dishes that became an instant hit with her granddaughter, Gia, is her sautéed branzino. Gather round the table and feed your body and soul with Ms. Patti’s juicy family-style creation. All you’ll need are a few simple ingredients that are likely already in your pantry. With just a dash of fresh garlic, turmeric powder and salt, and ­pepper, this flaky fish comes together in a flash.

Patti LaBelle’s Pan-Seared Branzino

Makes 4 Servings

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4 skin-on branzino fillets (1 pound)
2 tablespoons of fresh garlic (minced)
Coarse salt
Coarse black pepper
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper (optional, for a spicier flavor)
2-3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil (depending on the size of the fillets)


1. Pat the fillets dry with a paper towel.
2. Sprinkle the fillets on both sides with the garlic, salt, pepper, turmeric and cayenne pepper, and set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the fish skin-side down in the pan. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then carefully flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Place the fish on a paper towel-lined plate to remove any excess oil, then serve promptly.

This recipe originally appeared in the November/December 2020 issue of ESSENCE, available on newsstands now.