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Basil-crusted cod with tomato fonduta

September 2, 2009

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Serves 4

Typically Ligurian, this straightforward preparation matches flaky white fish with pungent basil and a sweet-tart tomato sauce (fonduta). The fish pieces are breaded with a panko-basil crust, then roasted in a hot oven and garnished with the sauce.

FONDUTA

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons diced pancetta
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
8 Roma tomatoes, peeled and diced
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt, to taste
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Brown the pancetta, stirring often, for 4 minutes.

2. Add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until softened.

3. Add the tomatoes, basil, and salt. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add red pepper.

4. In a food processor, puree the mixture until smooth. Return to the skillet and set aside. Rinse and dry the processor.

FISH

Oil (for the dish)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
2/3 cup panko
1 1/2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
4 pieces (6 ounces each) cod, cut about 1 1/2 inches thick
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons butter, melted (for the fish)
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

2. In small skillet, heat the 1 teaspoon olive oil and when it is hot, add the 1 teaspoon butter. Stir the panko into the oil mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a bowl.

3. In the food processor, coarsely chop the basil and garlic. With the motor running, add the 1/4-cup olive oil in a thin stream. Stir the basil mixture into the panko.

4. Brush the cod with lemon juice and melted butter. Dip one side of the fish in the panko mixture to make 1/4-inch thick topping.

5. Roast the fish, topping side up, for 10 to 12 minutes or until it is firm to touch and cooked through.

6. Meanwhile, reheat the fonduta. Spoon the sauce onto 4 dinner plates. Place cod in the center of each one. Adapted from Cinque Terre restaurant