pesto crusted baked cod (and clams)

Cooking in the summer is not for the faint of heart. Cooking in the threat of summer is almost worse. See, technically we are on the tail end of summer... it could be hot one day or not at all. But since the threat is still alive, I still need to think about whether it would be advisable to think about turning on my oven for a dinner. I don't look at the weather for rain... I look for heat.

Planning meals is something I absolutely love to do - but it also sometimes has me spinning more than my non-existent washing machine. Do I need a side? But how big of a filet do I really need? What if they hate garlic? Does anyone have a nut allergy? Seriously.
So this week I was having a guest over for dinner. Cooking for someone is always a slightly personal experience to me - which is why one day I just made someone a quinoa salad because I fundamentally didn't care about having them over for dinner. To be fair, I do love a quinoa salad but in this event it was a sign of how I was not invested in the degree to which they enjoyed the meal.

My guest had never made pesto before so it seemed like a great opportunity to spread my love for it and get a little help in the kitchen. And that's how we ended up dining on amazing baked cod smothered in pesto. The thing with pesto is that you love it so much that you make extra. It's pretty much the same reason I only make meatballs in batches of 60. You never regret it. The extra pesto didn't last very long ... it soon became best friends with a pile of clams.

How did it all come together? Steam the clams like this-ish. Make your pasta like normal. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the pasta to grease it up a bit. Remove the clams from their homes. Mix it all up with your pesto.

But, here is how the cod dish works out. It's super easy for a weeknight and even easier if you have the pesto made in advance. If you tell me you bought the pesto, I'll cry. Maybe.

(Step 1) Make the pesto! Same recipe as always folks... The recipe tends to yield about 1 cup total and we only need 1/2 cup or less for this ... so you can freeze the pesto or do what we did with it (pesto + pasta + clams).
(Step 2) Take your pesto and add the bread crumbs.
(Step 3) Drizzle some olive oil (lightly) in the bottom of your baking dish. Lay your filets of fish down and season with salt and pepper.
(Step 4) Now take your amazing pesto panko mixture and spread it on those fishies like its sunscreen on a newborn baby.
(Step 5) Fill up the rest of the real estate in the dish with some appropriate veggies. I am a lover of the San Marzano tomatoes and this seemed like a great occasion for them. It was a pesto party.
(Step 6) Toss the fish in the oven at 375 for 20-25 minutes. You'll know its done when it flakes easily when you poke it with a fork. You won't be able to tell from the crust or the lovely tomatoes ... you've just got to poke the fish.
(Step 7) Now eat.

Shopping List
6 san marzano tomatoes (or roma, plum, etc)
olive oil
3 cod filets (about 6-7 oz each)
1/4 to 1/2 cup pesto (depending on how thick you want your crust)
1/2 cup panko flakes

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