I think we all know that eating fish several times a week is a good call, both for our hearts and our brains. In the summertime, it’s easy. I love tossing a piece of fish seasoned with just a little salt and pepper on the grill, giving it a bit of char and squeezing it with bright lemon and serving it next to a lightly-dressed coleslaw or a chopped grilled veggie salad. In summer, I like not feeling full.
But winter? I crave something richer and meatier. I want food that fills my belly with warmth and coats my tongue with luscious, deep flavors. Basically, I want to eat a fatty venison stew for several months a year. Is that so wrong?
Well, I can’t eat like a bear before hibernation every day from December to March. It wouldn’t meet my health goals, and let’s face it: I don’t have that kind of braising time available to me on a casual Tuesday night.
A simple, quick sautéed fish recipe comes to the rescue! It’s a classic saute plus pan-sauce method that is more blueprint than recipe: Sauté the fish and remove from the pan, add in some veggies and aromatics and cook until tender, deglaze the pan with broth, wine, or other liquid and then add finishing touches, such as whisking in a pat of butter or adding chopped fresh herbs.
The recipe today, Quick Cod with Red Wine Pan Sauce has a few tricks up its sleeve to satisfy my winter palate. I use meaty portabella mushrooms as the veggie, which amps up the filling-factor of delicate cod. And for the sauce, I use beef broth and red wine, surprising companions for a white fish dish. But, get excited, because they work.
For minimal extra calories, this cod dish goes from summer-light to winter-comfort with these small swaps. Oh, and yes, I added a smidge of butter at the end to make the sauce glossy, but feel free to skip if you don’t want the extra fat.
COD WITH RED WINE PAN SAUCE
Start to finish: 10 minutes
4 5-ounce fillets of cod, rockfish or other sturdy white fish
2 teaspoons of flour, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 shallot, minced
8 ounces baby bella (or white) mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup beef stock
1/3 cup red wine (regular, or sweetened, such as Marsala or Madeira)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
chopped parsley for garnish
lemon wedges, for garnish
salt and pepper
Pat the fish dry with a paper towel and season it with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of flour on the fish, using a silicon brush to coat the fish very lightly with the flour.
Heat half the oil over medium high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Cook the fish until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side, flipping the fish only once to retain the nice crust. Place the fish on a warmed platter and set aside.
Add the remaining oil, shallot and mushrooms to the skillet and sauté until mushrooms begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and remaining teaspoon of flour, and stir for a minute. Then add the stock and wine to deglaze the pan, and bring to a boil for a minute or two, until sauce starts to thicken.
Turn off the heat and add in the lemon juice and whisk in the butter to make the sauce glossy. Top with parsley and a lemon wedge for garnish. Serve the sauce with the fish, either on the side to spoon on, or on top of the fish.
(Optional: Serve the fish on a bed of baby spinach, spaghetti squash or quinoa to soak up the tasty sauce.)
Nutrition information per serving: 201 calories; 64 calories from fat; 7 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 61 mg cholesterol; 178 mg sodium; 6 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 24 g protein.
Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook “Supermarket Healthy.”