Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Baked White Fish with Orzo, Tomatoes and Olives

Summer is all about fresh produce and herbs. This recipe capitalizes on both. And it's pretty healthy, too. My summer herbs, kept in clay pots, afford easy accessibility and harvesting.

The original recipe called for shrimp, feta cheese, fresh basil, no black olives, canned tomatoes and baking in a covered glass casserole dish. It was "okay." But it just kind of missed something even though it looked great.

I love the concept of par-boiling the orzo, so much easier than making rice or ribbons of pasta. White fish seemed the right way to go with this, and so I used fresh cod. I also added Greek olives, chopped celery, upped the garlic, swapped out the basil for fresh Italian oregano (milder than Mexican oregano), added some spinach and used goat cheese instead of the feta. Even without the fish, this is a great side dish!!! The briny olives with the fresh tomatoes is classic Mediterranean fare. Use a really good olive oil.

I've used plain goat cheese and flavored. It's really up to you. Just use one that is mild in flavor or that you've already had. I use "La Bonne Vie."

(I had planned to do a nice "photo shoot" for this recipe, but a rain storm blew in at the last minute diminishing any natural light. 

  • 1/2 cup raw orzo
  • 1/2 - 3/4 lb. fresh cod fillet
  • 1 cup sliced grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced or pressed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2-3 tablespoons thawed spinach, squeezed dry (or use fresh)
  • 1/3 cup (about) chopped Greek olives (Kalamata)
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese
  • 4 small fresh thyme sprigs
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Garlic powder
  • Old Bay's Seasoning
  • Lemon
Chop, dice and mince all your vegetables and have them ready to go.

Cut fish in half to fit inside of Dutch oven.

Bring a small pot of water to the boil and add the orzo. Cook for about 6 minutes or so while you saute the vegetables.

In a medium Dutch oven, drizzle about a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Add the chopped celery, onion, and tomatoes and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, remembering it will also bake in the oven, so don't over cook them. Add the olives, garlic, spinach and oregano. Stir to warm through. Remove from heat.

Drain orzo and add to vegetables. Stir in the cheese until melted.

The orzo mixture itself is a great side dish.

Lightly dust the fish filet with garlic powder, salt and pepper, Old Bay's. Place fish on top of orzo-vegetable mixture. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over fish and then drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Place thyme sprigs on top of fish.

Cover. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until fish flakes. Serve with lemon wedges and additional salt if desired. For wine, pair with a cold Pino Grigio, Chenin Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc.

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