What a week.
Meat-and-Potatoes-Guy and I spent the first part of it camped out in our finished basement, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chips, courtesy of Hurricane Sandy (if you don’t live in the U.S., check out the unbelievable photos of the devastation to the East Coast).
We have a very tall, sturdy, healthy 60-year-old oak tree only a few feet from our house that leans directly above our second floor bedroom.
And we couldn’t believed how it swayed, like some delicate flower, in the howling winds, looking ready to topple over into our roof any second. (The tree survived the storm, and I hope all readers in Sandy’s path are equally safe and sound).
Later in the week: Halloween, which always means resolving not to eat any candy meant for trick-or-treaters.
And then caving and sneaking way too much chocolate.
So I thought this Cod Poached in Tomato Sauce was perfect for today because it’s the opposite of everything I’ve eaten all week: it’s full of light, nutritious, healthy ingredients (fish, tomatoes, spinach, pine nuts – yum).
It’s very tasty with delicious Mediterranean flavors, and it’s also conveniently quick, ready in about half an hour.
Here are all the key ingredients you’ll need to get started.
Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.
Arrange some pine nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast the pine nuts for about 5-7 minutes.
They should be lightly golden when you remove them from the oven.
Set them aside for now.
Grab some garlic.
Place a knife over a clove of garlic and press down hard, smashing the clove and removing the skin.
Then mince up the garlic.
Chop the end off of an onion and cut it in half lengthwise.
Peel off the skin and place one half flat-side-down on the cutting board for stability.
Cut quarter-inch slices of onion lengthwise.
Then cut in the opposite direction, chopping up the onion.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add some olive oil.
Then sauté the garlic and onion until they’re nicely softened.
This is really all it takes to make the kitchen smell delicious.
You could really stop right here and still attract all members of the household into the kitchen, wondering “what smells so good?”
Next, divide a pound of cod into four portions.
Try to keep the portions as equally sized as possible so they’ll cook evenly.
Season the fish with salt and pepper.
Everyone always talks about salmon as the best source of omega-3, but cod also is a good source (among other health benefits, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve heart health and blood pressure, and eating a couple servings of fish each week has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes).
If you can’t find cod locally, any mild white fish would work in this dish: halibut or haddock are great alternatives.
Next, add the chopped tomatoes with their juices to the sauté pan and adjust the heat to a light simmer.
Arrange the fish in the pan so that the pieces are not overlapping.
Cover and allow the fish to cook in the lightly simmering tomatoes.
Here’s what I love about cooking fish using the poaching method: it’s basically foolproof.
In my experience, cooking fish with just a bit of oil in a sauté pan usually turns into Kitchen Disaster, with half the fish stuck to the pan, the other half broken into ten flaky bits.
But the liquid from the tomatoes in this recipe keeps the fish from sticking.
And it adds rich tomato flavor to the fish as well.
When you see that the top of the fish has changed from translucent pinkish-white to solid white, you’ll know the fish is cooked through.
Use a spatula to transfer the fish to a platter, and lightly tent the platter with foil to keep the fish warm.
Then add lots of baby spinach leaves to the sauté pan.
Also add the toasted pine nuts and some dried oregano.
And add some capers.
You can find delicious jarred capers in the grocery, typically next to the olives.
They add a very tasty briny, salty mediterranean flavor to the dish.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
I like to add salt and pepper only at the end for this particular recipe, mainly because the capers are so salty and it’s easy to go overboard.
Spoon the tomato sauce all over the fish and serve – it tastes delicious over brown rice.
This recipe is perfect for when you want a very flavorful, healthy dish that tastes like you really toiled in the kitchen, when you actually didn’t at all.
The mediterranean flavors of rich olive oil, savory tomatoes and garlic, and crunchy pine nuts are so delicious with the moist, flaky poached cod.
Here is the complete (printable!) recipe:
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- 26-ounce container chopped tomatoes
- 1 pound wild cod
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Arrange the pine nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast the pine nuts for about 5-7 minutes, or until they are lightly golden. Watch carefully - they burn quickly!
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and diced onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes with their juices, and adjust the heat to a light simmer. Divide the cod into 4 equally-sized portions and season with salt and pepper. Place the fish in the lightly simmering liquid, cover, and cook for about 7-9 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Use a spatula to remove the cod from the pan, place on a platter, and tent with aluminum foil. Add the spinach, capers, and dried oregano to the pan.
- Cook until spinach is lightly wilted, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the toasted pine nuts, spoon the sauce all over the fish, and serve.