Pan-fried cod and cherry tomato risotto

 

I love researching for new Italian recipes that I can cook for family, friends or the boy. I’m fascinated with the regional diversity within Italian cooking and love to get nerdy about the various ingredients used across the country; from northern mountainous Piedmont to southern sunny Puglia . I try to read and cook as much as possible but think that even if I were to cook a different recipe everyday for the rest of my life, I probably wouldn’t cover a fraction of all the Italian recipes out there. The great thing about having an inquisitive Italian food obsession is that all the reading I do often inspires me to get inventive and come up with my own culinary creations. That’s what happened the other day after reading a cook book on Sicilian cooking. A light bulb moment. Ding!! Before you know it, I’m legging it to the local supermarket grabbing all the ingredients I need; leg it back home and camp out in the kitchen until I’m happy with the result. Here is one of those light bulb dishes.  Pan-fried cod served on cherry tomato risotto. The flavours of this dish just scream out SUMMER to me.  It really puts a smile on my face and happy glow in my tummy. 

Ingredients - 2/3 people

  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 1 small carrot, finely diced.
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • Olive oil
  • 350g cherry tomatoes or mini San marzano
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 80g pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 glass of white wine
  • 250g risotto rice
  • 750g vegetable stock
  • 25g Parmesan, grated
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 2 cod fillets
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Basil pesto (optional to serve)

 

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Directions

  1. First, make the tomato sauce. In a saucepan, drizzle olive oil and fry half the onion, half the celery and carrot on a low heat until softened.
  2. Add the cherry tomatoes ( whole, including the vine if available) and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until tomatoes have softened. With a wooden spoon, break the tomatoes skin and allow juices to reduce to a sauce. Take the pan off the heat and remove the vine once the sauce is cooked.
  4. Next up, is the risotto. Fry the remaining onion and celery in olive oil and half the butter until the vegetables are softened.
  5. Add the pancetta until its browned
  6. Then add the risotto rice to the pan, and let it toast for a few minutes. Make sure you keep stirring the risotto
  7. Pour in the white wine, keep on stirring until the liquid it has evaporated.
  8. Next, pour in the tomato sauce and half the stock. Keep the risotto stirring. When most of the liquid has evaporated, keep on adding stock, ladle at a time until the risotto is cooked. Ideally, the risotto should be cooked ‘al dente’ with a slight bite. Make sure you don’t overcook it as it can get too sloppy, like porridge.
  9. When the risotto is cooked how you want it, stir in the Parmesan and butter.
  10. Next, cook the cod. In a frying pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil. Season the cod with salt and place the cod skin down into the frying pan, when the pan is hot.
  11. Cook skin side down for 3 minutes until the skin has turned slightly brown. Then turn the cod over and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add the lemon juice while cooking – it gives it a great flavour. The cod should be flaky and moist.
  12. Finally, place the pan fried cod on top of the risotto. Serve with basil pesto

 

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