I always think about my husband’s late Aunt Virginia during the holidays. She was a handsome Italian-American Matriarch who hosted elaborate dinners at her house in a seemingly effortless way. She told stories, played Frankie Valli and Dean Martin and expressed her dislike for people who didn’t like food. People like her keep traditions and families going across the U.S. and we all miss them when they are gone.
Even though she never never mentioned the Italian “feast of the seven fishes,” my husband has become keenly interested in the tradition so I’ve put together a few favorite recipes that can help you add a fish dish to the table without keeping you in the kitchen all day.
This fresh cod dish is a beautiful addition to any holiday table. The tangy citrus of the tomatoes, the earthiness of the black olives against the sweetness of the shallots and all this elevated with the soft crunch and nuttiness of the toasted pine nuts. It’s a very easy yet luxurious meal your guests will cherish.
Pan-roasted Cod with saffron-braised tomatoes and toasted pine nuts
2 Tbsp of high quality olive oil
4 center cut Cod (1 inch thick, 6 oz each), with skin on
Coarse sea salt to taste
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup of pitted and chopped black olives
4 to 5 threads of saffron
2 minced shallots
Coarse sea salt to taste
Tomato and black olive braise with pine nuts.
Place 2 tablespoons of pine nuts on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes at 375 until browned. Remove from cookie sheet and set aside for garnish.
In separate large skillet, add the shallots and tomatoes along with the EVOO and lightly saute. Then add 1/2 cup of pitted and cut black olives and 1/4 cup of white wine. Bring to a braise for 7 to 10 minutes and salt to taste. Set aside and reheat prior to serving on the cod fillets.
Heat the oil in a separate large skillet over medium heat. Please note that you will be cooking the cod fillets in one pan and braising your tomatoes in a separate pan. Pat the cod fillets dry with paper towels so that they brown. Season them wish kosher salt and pepper on both sides, and then add them, skin side down, to the skillet. Reduce the heat (The oil should sizzle, not sputter) and cook the fillets until the skin becomes crisp, about 3 minutes. Turn the fillets and gently brown the other side, about 3 more minutes.
Turn the fillets once and place in oven for 7 minutes at 375 to finish cooking. Once done, set aside to assemble with the tomato braise.
You may serve this in a colorful platter family style or serve individually. Place cooked filets on the plate and cover with tomato braise, then sprinkle with pine nuts. You can serve this on it’s own or with a side salad or your favorite pasta or cous cous.
The Wine Perfect with a bottle of White Label Chardonnay from Lenz Wineryin the town of Peconic on Long Island’s North Fork. Dry and crisp Chardonnay is lively with vibrant tropical, citrus and pineapple flavors and slightly nutty finish will be a genius combination with this dish and at $12 you will be a financial genius!