Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinner: Cod with Basil and Thyme Pesto

By grace.g.yang ยท October 7, 2009
Under: Cheap Eats,Dinner,My Life,Recipes

One of my favorite types of fish to eat is cod. I fell in love with it in Spain; my family went to the Boqueria in Barcelona and ate at Bar Pinotxo, where they served cod with potatoes and tomato sauce – a simple dish that might’ve been the best cod I’ve ever had. The bar seats 14 and has amazing food, but that’s a post for another time. I’ve had some pretty awesome cod in New York as well – places that come to mind: Pearl Oyster Bar and A Salt and Battery. Since eating out is not always an option (time, money, finding dinner companions), I decided to buy some cod at Trader Joe’s and make some at home. The dish is REALLY easy to make and it turns out I had everything in my fridge, so I didn’t have to run to the grocery store to pick anything up. You might have the ingredients, too, especially if you made the spaghetti alla carbonara from last week!


1-2 cod fillets
1/2 cup of basil leaves (freshly picked from the Aerogarden!
1 small handful of thyme (also picked from the Aerogarden!)
A little olive oil
Black pepper
2 tablespoons of chicken broth
1 lemon
A pinch of garlic powder
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese


First, I placed the basil into my handy dandy mixer and added the lemon juice and chicken broth:


Next, add the parmesan:


Side note: if you don’t have a mixer in your house, you can always just roughly chop up the basil and mix everything together.

After, add the garlic powder and black pepper and pulse the mixer:


Funny story: apparently my handy dandy mixer wasn’t completely closed or has a leak in it because when I started to pulse it, basil, lemon juice, and chicken broth came out and splashed all over me! Minor set-back, I somehow made it through this dinner.

After 10 seconds of pulsing, you should get a slightly watery mix like this:


I didn’t have any thyme in my original picture, but I wanted to show you guys that I used thyme from the Aerogarden!!:


So we have our “pesto,” now we have to work on cooking the cod. First, I cut the cod into two portions (although I ended up eating both portions because I was hungry and the cod was really delicious):


I added some butter to the pan and placed both pieces of cod on the hot pan:


Then, I added some of the pesto (about two spoonfuls on each, getting the chunkier bits into the pan):


Now, this is where some of you guys may differ from my preparation, but for some reason, I really like the taste of slightly burnt parmesan cheese. Since i like that taste, I flipped over the fish (with the pesto on it) and made sure the pesto kind of burned on the pan (which I transferred to a plate later). You can wait until the fish is cooked to add the pesto (about 6 minutes on each side using a medium heat), but I think the heat really brings out the wonderful parmesan flavor. After cooking for about 12 minutes, I took the cod out of the pan and added some more pesto:


The fish is super easy to make and was really satisfying – the sauce is good enough to drink (which I may or may not have done). The pan seared cod is perfect for a quick and easy weeknight dinner!

Cost breakdown:

1 cod fillets (half of the bag from Trader Joe’s, which totaled $7.50) – $3.75
1/2 cup of basil leaves (freshly picked from the Aerogarden! – since it came from the Aerogarden, which was a gift, I’ll have to say free
1 small handful of thyme (also picked from the Aerogarden!) – since it came from the Aerogarden, which was a gift, I’ll have to say free
A little olive oil – olive oil costs about $8 for the jar and I used about 1 tablespoon, so I’ll just guess and say about $.25
Black pepper – let’s be serious – I’m never going to use this thing up but we’ll say it cost $.25
2 tablespoons of chicken broth – chicken broth cost $2.29 and I still have about half of the container left (even after I took out those TWO tablespoons!), so we’ll say $.10
1 lemon – $.50
A pinch of garlic powder – can we just say free?
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese – $0.20

Total: $5.05

Reader Comments

i really love your website! i def plan on making this tonight!

Written By emily on October 8th, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

You should definitely write a post about Bar Pinotxo! I loved that place.

Written By Angela on October 9th, 2009 @ 7:52 am

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