Baked Cod with Lemon and Olives

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 with lemon and olives

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.

baked cod with lemon and olives ready for the oven

We like to eat this with couscous, which serves to sop up the extra sauce, but crusty bread would work, would roasted new potatoes.  It’s tangy, briney, and delicious.

Healthy baked cod with lemon and olives

Minimal Monday: Cod with Lemon and Olives

Yield: serves 2


  • 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


  1. Set oven to 400F
  2. Lay out the fish in a pan with sides, or a casserole dish. Add the wine and lemon juice to the pan.
  3. Scatter the olives and capers around, then sprinkle everything with the salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and zest.
  4. 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.

healthy, low calorie, low carb, and paleo --- baked fish with lemon and olives is a fabulous way to eat well

How do you navigate the two faces of January in your kitchen?


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26 Responses to Minimal Monday: Cod with Lemon and Olives

  1. Brooke says:

    My 10-year-old daughter and I each made a cod recipe the other night, and this was my selection – it was DELICIOUS! So light and fresh. Her selection was cod with a parmesan, mayo, herb, and lemon topping – also super good! Thank you for continuing to inspire our dinners with your gorgeous photos and recipes!

    • Sue says:

      What a fun idea, your daughter is getting such an early start cooking and eating healthy, I don’t know too many 10 year olds who would know what to do with cod!!

  2. Pure Ella says:

    Stunning photos and recipe ;)
    I go back and forth from eating vegan to eating pescetarian so this is great to pin for those days ;) xox

  3. You cook so well, Sue. I would have never thought of pairing fish with olives and I love it after seeing yours. The photos are so beautiful and appetizing.

  4. I love seafood and this cod looks so summery and delicious!

  5. Cro Magnon says:

    We say on a weekly basis that we must EAT MORE FISH. I shall make a big sign and hang it in the kitchen.

  6. Oh how elegant. I love all your tweak suggestions, too. Could I do them all at once? Wretched excess, but delicious!

  7. Mmmm, simple fish dishes are just the best!! Great idea Sue

  8. I love these fresh and clean flavors, so perfect for January!

  9. Amy says:

    May I please come to your house for dinner tonight? This looks SO GOOD!

  10. So nice to see a fish recipe, and this one has all the flavours I love (including the wine) I don’t eat nearly enough fish.

  11. This cod recipe looks amazing and definitely something I want to try out.

  12. This looks and sounds amazing!!

  13. Wow, this is really beautiful. It looks so delicious and pretty. I would eat it all!

  14. I’ve been playing around with a soup that has olives in it and it’s funny that most don’t think about cooking with olives – mostly serving them cold. I love what you did with this dish – the fish looks amazing, flaky, soft, moist – I could really dig into this for any meal of the day!

  15. I could just dive right into this. Love!!

  16. Maddie says:

    What can I add instead of wine if I don’t use alcohol in cooking? Seafood stock?

    • Sue says:

      That’s so funny Maddie because I was puzzling over that while I was doing the ‘adaptations’ section. You could absolutely use seafood stock if you have some around. You could also just use a little more lemon and olive oil, and maybe some of the juice from the olives. Remember, too, that the alcohol will cook off pretty quickly, if you do use wine. Good luck, and let me know how it turns out!

  17. SallyBR says:

    Beautiful recipe, I don’t cook cod often enough, I think it’s because I grew up with my Portuguese grandma cooking salt cod and the smell turned me off completely to that fish

    of course, cod is such a wonderful fish in its natural state – I should look for some and try your recipe

  18. This cod looks crazy delicious and effortlessly low-fat! Yum! I am so making it this week. Cod is the only fish my family doesn’t complain about eating! :-)

  19. Lemon and olives are a classic combination that always work. I tend to overlook cod and you’ve inspired me to give it a try. As always Sue, your food presentations are stunning.

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