It’s no surprise that I love seasonal cooking, and January is one of the more complex (and short!) ‘seasons’ of the year. Cooking during this time of year can be frustrating and exhilarating at the same time thanks to January’s split personality — it’s a dead-of-the-winter month that also happens to preside over the birth of a new year. We want to eat warm and cozy foods, but we also know it offers us a brand new chance at eating better. We’re already sick of casseroles, but it’s too early to be thinking about salads… Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, brings us beautiful citrus fruits to help us in our quest. I think this Mediterranean style Cod with Lemon and Olives satisfies all of our conflicting January cravings to a ‘T’.
Baked fish cooks quickly, so I usually feel confident labeling it a 30-minute meal. The fish goes in a baking dish along with some white wine and lemon juice, which keeps it moist during the cooking, and also serves as a sauce. I scattered olives, a few capers, some lemon zest, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes over all. A final drizzle of olive oil before it goes in the oven is all that’s left to do. You can do this with most types of fish, but I usually try to find a thicker cut like halibut, sea bass, cod, swordfish, or salmon, rather than thin filets like sole, tilapia, or snapper. I especially love cod because it is so tender, white, and flaky… it’s a really good foil for strong flavors and colors.
We like to eat this with couscous, which serves to sop up the extra sauce, but crusty bread would work,..so would roasted new potatoes. It’s tangy, briney, and delicious.
- 3/4 - 1 lb cod
- 1/4 cup white wine
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup assorted olives
- 1 to 2 Tbsp capers, drained
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- olive oil
- fresh parsley
- Set oven to 400F
- Lay out the fish in a pan with sides, or a casserole dish. Add the wine and lemon juice to the pan.
- Scatter the olives and capers around, then sprinkle everything with the salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and zest.
- Drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 20-30 minutes until the fish flakes and is done through. The exact time will depend on your oven, and the thickness of your fish. Use your judgement, the fish is done when it is opaque throughout, and flakes when you cut it open.
This recipe is slightly adapted from Real Simple
Want to adapt it?
- How about some chopped fresh tomatoes, or halved cherry tomatoes mixed with the olives.
- If you love garlic, add a minced clove or two.
- Throw in some good feta cheese.
- Thinly sliced red onion would add it a gentle kick.
- Fresh dill, basil, thyme, or rosemary instead of parsley will emphasize the herby flavor.
- Sliced or quartered artichoke hearts would be nice!
- Add some very thinly sliced fennel will give a sweet anise flavor to the dish.
- Lay the fish on a bed of sliced lemon to emphasize the citrus.
- If you don’t want to use the wine, just increase the lemon and olive oil a bit.
How do you navigate the two faces of January in your kitchen?