Fast fish is one of my favorite weeknight dinners! This recipe for pan seared cod with tomatoes and olives is fast, simple, and bursting with flavor from the sauce of tomatoes, olives, capers, and lemon juice.
Ready for another tasty, easy, and healthy dinner recipe?
I hope so, because I am on a roll here developing all sorts of Mediterranean recipes to keep you eating well and getting the advantages of the Mediterranean diet. So I thought I would go back to the most popular recipe I posted last year, my Pan Seared Cod with Lemon Sauce, which I used to kick off my focus on healthier eating, and come up with a new concept for pan seared cod.
I think you’ll like this one too!
I start with the same lemony, fresh, and crispy fish. Then, instead of the classic lemon and caper sauce I made before, I pair it with a tomato and olive sauce. And I amp up the flavors with a hit of gremolata. 😮
Anyway, let’s go through how to make recipe. A little chopping, but nothing difficult!
What do you need?
- Thick Cut Cod – Go for the thickest fish so you can sear the outside without overcooking the inside
- Seasoned Flour – Flour, salt, and pepper. And a little lemon juice as well!
- Chopped Tomatoes – For the sauce.
- Olives – I like a mix of black and green.
- Citrus – Lemon and orange together make a nice balance.
- Herbs and More – Parsley, garlic, white wine, capers, and more lemon juice finish the sauce.
How to make this
To make pan seared cod with tomatoes and olives, first dredge the fish in seasoned flour then sear it in a cast iron pan until golden brown. Make a sauce of tomatoes, olives, capers, and gremolata.
- Dredge thick cut cod in seasoned flour.
- Fry it in a cast iron pan until browned and cooked through.
- Add chopped olives, garlic, zest, and capers to the pan. Saute then deglaze with white wine.
- Add diced tomatoes and simmer.
- Stir in parsley, then pour the sauce over/around the fish.
1. Pan sear the fish
Before you fry up the cod, squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the fillets and let them marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Why do this? Letting it sit in lemon juice for a short time makes the cod taste very fresh and clean. The lemon juice also gives things a little zing as it soaks in.
Then pat the fillets dry and give them a light coating of seasoned flour. This will give them that crispy crust!
And, finally, fry them up in a hot cast iron pan with some olive oil. You want the pan hot so that the outside browns before it cooks through.
2. Make the sauce
First, prep the olives, zest, garlic, and parsley. You’ll want that all chopped up before you begin. (A great time is while the cod is marinating.)
Tip: If you are making Israeli couscous (as pictured here), get that started at the same time as the sauce.
Once the fish comes out of the pan, add the olives, capers, zest and garlic. Saute for a few minutes, then add the wine wine and cook down. Next, add the tomatoes and let everything bubble for about 10 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat. Stir some lemon juice. Scrape all the sauce into the serving dish with the cod, add the parsley, and eat!
Does tomato sauce ruin cast iron?
Also does cast iron ruin tomato sauce?
These are two very good questions!
And the answer is no. Within limits…
First of all, before you even think about cooking fish in cast iron your pan should be well seasoned. If it isn’t, it is going to stick. Work that cast iron with bacon and steaks and other less delicate foods before you even get here.
Once your pan is well seasoned, not only will it cook fish nicely, but it won’t be harmed by the acid in tomato sauce.
Second, cast iron will ruin a long cooking tomato sauce, but it won’t ruin a quick cooking sauce. The sauce in this recipe cooks for 10 minutes, which is not enough time for the flavor of the cast iron to leach into the sauce.
To sum up, the limits are:
- Use a well seasoned pan
- Make a quick cooking sauce
I will note that I have made this recipe a number of times in my cast iron and both my pan and the sauce have had no problems each time.
If you try my recipe for Pan Seared Cod with Tomatoes and Olives, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
Pan Seared Cod with Tomatoes and Olives
- 1 1/2 lb thick cut cod fillets, cut into 4-6 pieces
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
Tomato and Olive Sauce
- 1 cup mixed chopped olives, mix of black and green pitted olives
- 2 tbsp capers
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- zest of one lemon
- zest of one orange
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 14 oz chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 200F.
- Sprinkle one tablespoon of lemon over the fillets and let them marinate for 15-30 minutes while you prep the ingredients.
- Mix together the flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Pat the fish dry and dredge each fillet in the flour, tapping to remove the excess.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat until the oil is shimmery and the pan is hot.
- Add the cod and cook it for 5-6 minutes on the first side, or until golden brown. The fish may take a few minutes to release. Once it does you can check the bottom for browning.
- Flip and cook it for about another 5 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. If needed, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet.
- Transfer to an oven safe serving dish and put it in the oven to keep warm while you make the tomato olive sauce.
Tomato and Olive Sauce
- Add the olives, capers, garlic, and zest of the lemon and orange to the cast iron. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the wine wine and bring to boil until it is almost completely evaporated.
- Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Then taste the sauce and add more lemon juice, or salt and pepper as needed.
- Spoon the sauce over and around the cod, top everything with the parsley and serve.
- Serving suggestions: We like to serve the cod over rice, orzo, or Israeli couscous. You can switch it up with the grain of your choice (farro, quinoa, and so on).
- Fish: Thick cut cod is often called captain's cut. If you cannot find it, use thinner pieces and reduce the cooking time.
- Chopped tomatoes: I like the Pomi brand chopped tomatoes, which contains only tomatoes with no salt or calcium chloride. There are a number of other similar brands and they are usually found in boxes instead of cans. Calcium chloride keeps the tomatoes firm and does not let them break down as easily when cooked.
- White wine: If you find yourself without any white wine in the house, you can substitute vermouth or even vodka (though I use closer to the 1/3 cup of vodka when I need to sub).