Here’s a recipe that will transport you to Portugal or southern France, as long as you have a good imagination. Its ingredients — cod, onions, sweet peppers, garlic, tomatoes, olives and cilantro — remind me of dishes I had in Portugal long long ago. But I can also imagine having this in a seaside bistro in Marseilles, not that I’d know anything about that, but I do have a good imagination.
It requires some up-front chopping but doesn’t take long on the stove. You can play around with the ingredient amounts, adding more of the ones you favor. If you’re surprised by the amount of celery, the notes for the original recipe on the One Perfect Bite blog say that celery is supposed to be the dominant flavor here. Don’t be put off by that – it works.
You could add more olives; I would have used a bit more but I ran out. I used black olives instead of the green suggested in the original recipe because I thought they would work well, plus I didn’t have any green olives. Now I need to stock up on both!
I added red bell pepper because I had several in the refrigerator, but I also like the sweetness it adds in contrast to the salty olives. As I was making this, I wished I had fennel too. I bet it would have blended in well and given the dish a nice anise-y punch, so I’ve added that as an optional ingredient. Hopefully it works as well in real life as it does in my head.
Serve the cod and all its delicious broth and vegetables over white or brown rice. I made Broccoli with Red Pepper Flakes and Toasted Garlic as a side.
During the summer a chilled red wine would be a great accompaniment to this dish. Serving chilled red wine is the Portuguese way, so don’t knock it until you try it. Choose a varietal like a Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Grenache, Dolcetto or Pinotage. Stay away from big reds or ones that have been aged in oak.
Mediterranean Braised Cod
You’ll need a large deep skillet with lid.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced (optional)
- 5 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 cups celery, thinly sliced
- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
- 1/2 cup black olives cut in fourths
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1-1/4 lbs cod filets, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Heat oil in a large skillet. Sauté onion, red bell pepper and fennel (optional) until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and celery and sauté for another minute. Add tomatoes, olives and broth. Stir, cover, and simmer on medium-low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until celery is tender.
Place cod, lemon juice, salt, pepper and chili flakes on top of vegetables and continue to simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes, or until fish is cooked. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over brown or white rice. Makes about 4 servings.
Original recipe: Good Woman’s Codfish Casserole, One Perfect Bite