We love seafood, though we don’t eat nearly as much as we would like. We live in cattle and beef country, so we eat a lot of meat. Fresh seafood isn’t something we get a lot of here, though there are a lot of frozen seafood options, which are very good too. Americans in general, do not eat nearly as much seafood as they do other meats, even though they are eating more seafood than ever before. The average American eats only about 15 pounds of seafood per person per year, compared to about 46 pounds of chicken and 63 pounds of beef. This is the opposite of many other places around the world, especially in places where meat is at a premium.
I love all kinds of seafood, but my favorite seafoods are the big, thick whitefish varieties, such as cod, halibut (my absolute favorite) and haddock, as well as all the crustaceans and mollusks. The white fish, though not great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, are very good sources of protein and are very low in fat. When cooking with white fish, most recipes are pretty flexible and accommodating to a variety of different types of fish, so the whitefish varieties are interchangeable and up to your personal preferences.
Not only do I love seafood, but I love all foods cooked Mediterranean style. Seafood cooked Mediterranean style is a natural combination, since much of the food from the Mediterranean comes from the sea. We hadn’t had fish in a while and I had some cod down, so it was a fishy kind of night. I prepared it with spinach and tomatoes and topped it au gratin style, then baked it to perfection. Au gratin means foods sprinkled with breadcrumbs and/or grated cheese and browned.
Mediterranean Cod and Spinach Au Gratin
1 1/2-2 lbs fresh thick white fish, the thicker the better – I used cod this time
4 cups fresh spinach, stems removed
1 onion, diced fine
1 TBSP garlic
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1-2 TBSP lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half – I used both yellow and red
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
fresh parsley, chopped fine
1/3-1/2 cup grated Parmagiano cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts – optional
Preheat the oven to 450* F or about 280* C.
Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
Saute the onions, garlic, spinach and salt & pepper in a hot skillet with olive oil just until the spinach is wilted and the onions are translucent.
When the spinach and onion mixture is done, mix in the mustard and lemon juice.
Evenly spread half the spinach mixture on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Then add the fish and sprinkle a bit more salt and pepper on top of the fish.
Add the rest of the spinach mixture on top of the fish and then add the tomatoes.
Mix the breadcrumbs, Parmagiano cheese and parsley and cover the tomatoes. Sprinkle the pine nuts evenly over the breadcrumbs and drizzle a little olive oil over the top.
Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned, the spinach is bubbling and the juices from the fish are clear.
I served my cod and spinach au gratin on top of some potato cakes with some warmed rosemary bread and an olive oil dip on the side, finished with a cool crisp, barrel aged chenin blanc. It was a perfect Mediterranean evening right here in Denver.
Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.