Although I don’t work a regular nine to five, there are still times that I get slammed with work. With two public speaking engagements and two TV appearances this week, I needed to keep my recipes quick and easy. During these ultra-busy times, I often turn to quick pastas, or some kind of protein with a simple sauce that can be made in the same pan.
This week, that meal ended up being this pan-roasted cod with a cherry tomato and basil pan-sauce. It has an insanely good effort to taste ratio, and the vibrant colors means the dish requires almost no styling to make it look good (I literally slid the fillets out of the pan and dumped the sauce on top).
The one point you need to be careful with is to dry the surface of the fish thoroughly and make sure the pan is hot. Both these steps help ensure that the fish does not stick to the pan. Using a non-stick pan will make your job a bit easier, but you’ll lose out on the nice brown layer of fond on the bottom of the pan.
This brown fond is like a concentrated fish bouillon, and forms the base for our pan-sauce. I used a splash of white wine to wash the fond into the sauce, and fortified its umami with the juices from the sweet cherry tomatoes. A few basil leaves and a splash of lemon juice finish the sauce off, and just like that, you have an easy fish entre that wouldn’t look out of place in a fine dining restaurant.
Perhaps the best part of this dish is that the leftovers make for a fantastic pasta. Just break up the fillets into bite-size pieces, boil your favorite pasta in well salted water, and toss the drained pasta with the cod, and tomato basil sauce. A sprinkle of lemon zest and parsley on top transforms a delicious dinner into a luscious lunch!
Cherry tomatoes not only adds visual appeal to this dish, they’re relatively sweet all year round, which means you can make this quick fix any time of the year! If you can’t get your hands on fresh cod, other white-meat fish such as bass or halibut will work, or you could even make this with chicken, pork or tofu.
- Cut the cod into pieces that will easily fit on top of your spatula (if the pieces are two big they will fall apart when you try to flip them). Dry the fillets using paper towels and then generously salt and pepper both sides of each fillet.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat until hot and then add the olive oil and swirl to coat. Add the cod and fry one side until browned on one side. Flip the fillets over using a spatula and fry until the second side is browned and the fish is almost cooked through.
- Transfer the fish to a plate and add the garlic to the pan, frying until fragrant.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and wine and boil, deglazing the pan in the process.
- Return the cod to the pan and then add the basil. Reduce the sauce until it has thickened, flipping the cod over a few times to coat evenly.
- Turn off the heat, drizzle the lemon juice over the pan-roasted cod and garnish with minced parsley and lemon zest.