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)
- 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.
- Add the cherry tomatoes ( whole, including the vine if available) and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
- 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.
- Next up, is the risotto. Fry the remaining onion and celery in olive oil and half the butter until the vegetables are softened.
- Add the pancetta until its browned
- Then add the risotto rice to the pan, and let it toast for a few minutes. Make sure you keep stirring the risotto
- Pour in the white wine, keep on stirring until the liquid it has evaporated.
- 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.
- When the risotto is cooked how you want it, stir in the Parmesan and butter.
- 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.
- 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.
- Finally, place the pan fried cod on top of the risotto. Serve with basil pesto