Colorful Cooking column: Seared cod with tomato and olive sauce
New Year’s resolutions come and go like the river flow. Too bad then that so many of us have resolved to eat better and exercise more — both very important things. Two servings of fish per week is what health experts recommend consuming and might just be a resolution you can keep.
Fish is low in calories, high in quality protein and full of omega 3s. Fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, have high amounts of omega 3s while less fatty fish such as cod, flounder and halibut have a little less omegas but tons of good minerals and vitamins.
Cod is a white fish that is firm and mild in flavor. In New England, cod is one of the freshest fish you can buy, but here in the Rocky Mountains, fresh cod is hard to come by. You can purchase fresh fish at places such as Hooked in Beaver Creek or Cut in Edwards, but on a weeknight when you’re looking for a healthy, quick meal, a frozen filet may be the way to go.
Frozen fish is tasty if you plan and prepare it properly. When purchasing frozen fish, try to get wild caught and individually sealed filets. When thawing frozen fish, place the wrapped individual packages on a plate in the refrigerator overnight. If you need a quick fix, put the wrapped fish into a bowl of cool water and change the water every five minutes until thawed, about 30 minutes depending on the thickness of the filet.
A thawed filet (or any seafood previously frozen) is going to be filled with water. To get a nice crust on your seafood, you’ll need to reduce the water in it. When I am working with seafood, I gently squeeze it over the sink so some of the moisture drains out, then I place it on a stack of paper towels and pat the top with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture. Sometimes, if time allows, I will place it uncovered in the refrigerator to let the top dry out a bit creating a nice crust when I sear it.
Cod is mild tasting and can handle a flavorful sauce such as a tomato and caper sauce. This simple sauce is similar to an Italian puttanesca, but I reduced the amount of high-calorie Kalamata olives and added extra low calorie capers for flavor. Tomatoes have lycopene, which is absorbed better when tomatoes are cooked or processed and has been proven to fight against prostate cancer. A huge handful of fresh parsley reminds you that summer will be back, and a low-calorie meal in the thick of the winter will help you feel healthy and svelte. A one cup serving of the sauce checks in at about 260 calories.
4 six-ounce pieces of cod
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
Mix the salt, pepper and parsley in a small bowl. Pat the cod dry and season generously on each side with the mixture.
Heat a skillet over medium until hot. Add one tablespoon canola oil. Place fish (don’t overcrowd) in skillet and sear for four minutes. Flip and cook four minutes more. Remove from heat and serve with sauce.
Tomato and olive sauce
2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
16 Kalamata olives, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup capers
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Chop onions. Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium low, add onions and cook 10 minutes. Stir in anchovy paste until melted.
Add garlic, tomatoes and cook until warm. Mix in remaining ingredients except parsley, stir and cook 5 minutes. Mix in parsley and warm. Serve.
Makes 4 cups. One cup serving equals 263 calories (approximately).
Tracy Miller is the in house chef at TV8 in Vail and shares recipes Sunday mornings. She also teaches cooking classes at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. For more healthy recipes, log onto Colorfulcooking.com.
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