When I think about Mediterranean food, I picture of bowls of briny, herbed olives, tomatoes and marinated vegetables with fresh mozzarella and fruity red wine served outside in a warm but shady spot in the garden. A fantasy? Perhaps, but not if you are in Southern Italy – or pretending to be… We have all heard about the heart healthy benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet, but what is it?
The Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional recommendation originally inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Greece,Southern Italy and Spain. The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products. ( Wikipedia )
Wait, that sounds alot like what I eat (minus the meat). I guess I’m on the Mediterranean Diet! Now to just go back to Italy…
This delicious recipe, which I adapted from from Real Simple, is Mediterranean in flavor and ingredients. A light, white fish like cod, halibut or seabass is drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with olives, lemon zest and red pepper flakes then roasted in white wine. I used both castelvetrano and kalamata olives. I love their color combination but they both have different flavors to offer. Castelvetrano olives originate in Sicily and they are sweet and buttery while Kalamatas, from Southern Greece, are rich and meaty. The resulting dish is simple but flavorful and takes less than 30 minutes, start to finish. Roasted Pacific Cod can be served with a salad for a light entree or over a bed of couscous or rice for a heartier meal. Don’t forget to spoon some of the yummy wine sauce over the top!
TIPS: When choosing fish from the market, make sure it’s considered a healthy and sustainable source. The easiest way to do so is to go to the Seafood Watch website and enter the name of the fish you are considering. You will get an instant response, Best Choice, Good Alternative or Avoid. They also offer a handy Phone App so you can type it in while you are in line at the seafood counter. For example, Seafood Watch tells me that Pacific Cod which is live caught in the U.S. is considered Best Choice, whereas, Pacific Cod from Japan and Russia and some of Atlantic Cod is rated Avoid due to poor or unknown health of cod populations or questionable fishing practices. Seafood Watch is a great tool and I highly recommend it. I use it all the time.
Non olive lovers can omit the olives or substitute marinated red peppers, slivered marinated artichokes, or even capers, especially the large ones.
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Rinse and dry fish and place the fish in a single layer in a roasting pan.
- Add enough wine to reach halfway up the sides of the fish. Scatter the olives and lemon zest on top of the fish. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt, pepper and the red pepper.
- Roast until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork, about 10 minutes (longer depending on thickness of fish).
- Sprinkle with the parsley and divide the fish among individual plates and spoon the olives and wine sauce over the top.
Pacific Cod with Lemon, Wine and Olives