It’s a new year. And I really don’t do new year resolutions. But I do recommit to my focus on healthy living. Mostly because the craziness of the holiday season usually means I’m compromising on diet, my exercise regimen, and the quantity and quality of my sleep. So, it is fitting that my first recipe for 2017 is this delicious, oh-so-healthy baked cod with tapenade and warm tomato salad.
Get ready because this is a short post, guys. Frankly, this dish is so quick and easy that it won’t take me long to share it.
I love cod fish. It is such a wonderfully meaty, yet relatively mild fish. I’m not a very fishy-fish kind of person, so cod is a perfect choice for me. But because it is mild, try to pair cod with some big, bold flavors.
Well, it just so happens that I have some leftover tapenade from our New Year snack table, and I had these beautiful tri-colored plum tomatoes. The opportunities were screaming Mediterranean to me, so I went with it. What a great way to re-purpose tapenade!
Let’s see what goes into making this baked cod with tapenade and warm tomato salad
I chose pre-cut cod portions because I wanted them to be the same size so that they would bake evenly. These are 5-oz. each.
I let them sit overnight in the fridge on a bed of folded paper towels, which I replaced with a new bed of folded paper towels this morning. So much fish nowadays is frozen in too much water. If you don’t absorb some of that water, the fish ends up boiling instead of baking in the oven. But don’t squeeze the fish to remove the excess water. Not only will the fish come apart, but you’ll lose a lot of flavor as well.
You can make the tapenade yourself (I have included a recipe below), or you can buy ready-made tapenade at the store. If you make it yourself, you can prepare it a few hours or a couple of days in advance. It keeps very well in the fridge, and it actually tastes better the next day.
My tapenade recipe is based on the Williams-Sonoma cook book Hors D’oeuvre. I’ve been making it for years, and it delivers every time.
Let’s look at the steps to prepare baked cod with tapenade and warm tomato salad
Start by prepping your salad ingredients. The salad will be cooked while the fish is baking, but that doesn’t take very long at all, so it is a good idea to have everything ready to go before putting the fish in the oven.
Finely chop the shallot, mince the garlic, and cut your tomatoes in half.
I also find it helpful to measure out my other salad ingredients into prep bowls so that I can toss them in quickly when needed.
Next, smear the cod portions with olive oil and then season with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt because tapenade is pretty salty on its own, and it will continue the seasoning process when it is layered on the baked fish.
Then bake the fish at 425° F for about 15 minutes or so.
Once the fish is in the oven, set a pan onto a medium to medium-high flame. Add olive oil, the shallots, and the garlic. Stir and sauté the shallots and garlic just until the smell gets you all excited. Don’t caramelize them. They don’t even have to become translucent.
Then add the tomatoes, the oregano, and a little sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stir just until the tomatoes no longer look raw, only about 30-40 seconds. Try to watch that they don’t over-cook and lose their shape.
Then add the vinegar. Stir to distribute, and turn off the flame.
Remove the fish from the oven as soon as it is done. Then layer a heaping teaspoon of the tapenade evenly over the top. Top with a generous helping of the warm tomato salad.
Garnish with some chopped chives. If you prefer, you can use fresh parsley instead.
Then transfer to a serving plate. I like to drizzle a little bit of olive oil over it, but that’s optional.
Be sure to eat it warm. Because the warmth does a beautiful job of bringing together the flavors of the juicy and flaky cod, the rich and briny tapenade, and the sweet and savory tomato salad.
Thank goodness healthy can taste this good, or it would be real hard to do, huh? But with meals like this one, being good is a win for me AND my taste buds.
- FOR THE FISH
- 4 8-ounce portions of cod fish
- 1 cup plum tomatoes, cut in half
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, and more for smearing the fish
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 1 medium garlic clove, diced
- ½ teaspoon dry oregano
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- ½ cup tapenade
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives or parsley
- FOR THE TAPENADE
- 1½ cups of mixed Kalamata and green olives
- ½ teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
- 3 tablespoons capers, strained
- 2 teaspoons of chopped parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1½ tablespoons Cognac or brandy
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- White pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Take the prepared tapenade out of the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.
- Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.
- Then prep the ingredients for the warm salad. Chop the shallots, dice the garlic, and cut the tomatoes in half.
- Smear the cod portions with olive oil.
- Add fresh ground pepper and salt lightly.
- Place on a parchment-covered cookie sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Do not over-cook or the fish will become dry.
- While the fish is baking, heat a non-stick skillet to medium.
- Add olive oil, shallots and garlic. Stir and cook until the aroma is noticeable.
- Add the tomatoes and oregano. Stir and cook for 30-40 seconds.
- Add the vinegar, sprinkle lightly with salt. Stir to distribute, then remove from the flame.
- When the fish is baked, remove from the oven and immediately spoon a heaping teaspoon of tapenade over each portion, spreading it evenly.
- Top with a quarter of the warm tomato salad.
- Top with chopped chives or parsley.
- Serve warm.