Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Thanks to Eating Well magazine, I found another fish recipe to add to my ever-expanding rotation. Don’t be put off by the “cream” in the title, there’s only one tablespoon per person, not too fatty. I made a few changes to the original recipe:

  • Reduced the wine by 1/4 cup because it didn’t need that much liquid.
  • Used petite diced tomatoes. I thought they’d be a better fit for a subtly flavored dish like this.
  • Omitted the cornstarch because the sauce was fine as it was and didn’t need thickening.

Feel free to substitute other types of fish for the Pacific cod. Tilapia, mahi mahi or other types of white fish would work well, but buy American. Even boneless skinless chicken breast would do nicely in this dish.

I served orzo with butter, black pepper and parmesan cheese as a side. I made the orzo, drained it, put it back in its pot and added a tablespoon of butter (you could add olive oil instead), a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and a few tablespoons of parmesan cheese. If orzo isn’t in your cupboard, you could serve couscous, rice or potatoes.

Haricots Verts with Shallots and Tomatoes would make a good side but might be overkill on the shallot-tomato flavor, although I can’t get enough of that combination.

I probably made broccoli sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes since that’s my go-to broccoli side. It’s easy enough. Sauté broccoli florets and their sliced stems, salt, red pepper flakes, basil, thyme and sliced garlic for a few minutes. Add 1/4 cup water or chicken broth, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for a few more minutes, until the broccoli is crisp-tender.

The cod only took about 25 minutes to prepare, so this could be a quick dinner if you coordinate the cooking of the orzo and green vegetable while you prepare the fish. Start your pasta water before gathering your other ingredients and the timing should work out. The orzo, once cooked and buttered, can sit in its covered pot if it finishes early. If you make the haricots verts, start its water and prepare its ice bath ahead of time too. Just don’t leave the beans boiling more than 3-1/2 minutes. If you make the broccoli, do all your chopping ahead of time and cook it while the fish is cooking.

raleigh freelance writer

Cod with Tomato Cream Sauce

You’ll need a large skillet with a lid.

  • 4 Pacific cod or tilapia fillets, 1 to 1-1/4 pounds
  • 3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 14-ounce can diced petite tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup julienned spinach
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half

Sprinkle fish with 1 teaspoon of the thyme, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic and 1 teaspoon of the thyme. Cook, stirring, until they’re beginning to soften, about 1 minute. Add wine, tomatoes and fish to the pan. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the fish is cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the fish to a plate and keep warm.

Add spinach, the remaining teaspoon of thyme and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the pan. Let the spinach wilt a bit and then add the cream. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes over low heat. Add fish back to the pan, heat, if necessary, and serve.

Original recipe: Cod with Tomato Cream Sauce, Eating Well, January/February 2010

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