There are plenty of things I enjoy about summer.
It is socially acceptable to guzzle obscene amounts of ice cream. The smell of the chlorinated pool water is a constant air-freshener, there are salty, curly tresses after swimming in the ocean, long hikes with the dogs, and deep naps after a day of sunshine.
The food changes too. There are berries, green vegetables, and so much sweet corn. All the corn. I know this post is also supposed to be about fish but….I could eat corn all day long. Corn on the cob, corn bread, corn muffins, corn fritters, hush puppies, creamed corn – oh lawdy.
Concerning the cod: perhaps you think “Cod en Croute…wow that sounds fancy and French. Nope. Nevermind. Won’t do this.”
This couldn’t be simpler. Sear some fish, make some pesto, put it in some store-bought puff pastry. 15 minutes of prep and you’ve got a fancy weeknight dinner and you can add a French accent to it.
I will say – the risotto will take a bit longer, but the steps are simple and the finished product is beautiful.
It’s okay, breathe. I believe in you.
You have the power – and you’ll thank me once you’re shoveling all of this into your mouth, moaning greedily.
Cod en Croute with Leek and Walnut Pesto and Summer Sweet Corn Risotto
Serves two super lucky people with some extra risotto to fight over.
FYI: ‘En Croute’ just is hoity-toity, French talk for ‘in pastry’.
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour
For the Cod:
- 2 – 1 inch thick cod filets ( 1/4 – 1/3 a pound each)
- 1 Sheet of puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator (or per the box’s instructions)
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tblsp Butter and 1 tblsp olive oil for searing
For the Pesto:
- 1 leek, trimmed and chopped
- 2 tbslp of butter
- 2 tbslp of parsley
- 2 tblsp of chopped walnuts
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tblsp of olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
For the Risotto:
- 2 ears of sweet corn, husked and corn sliced off the cob
- 1 cup of arborio rice (or basmati – arborio just has more starches in it so it’s perfect for risotto).
- 3/4 cup of heavy cream (I used almond milk because I’m pretty sensitive to lactose – if you can digest the cream well, I suggest that all the way. I’ve done it both ways and it is amazing with cream.)
- 2 tblsps of butter for cooking
- 2 tbslp of olive oil for cooking
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 3 cups of chicken stock
- 1/2 cup of white wine
- Half a large onion (or a whole small one) – diced
- 1-2 tblsps of Balsamic vinegar
- 2 tblsp of honey
- 1/4 cup of fontina cheese (optional…but why not?)
- 2 tblsp of parsley for garnish and brightness
*Cook’s note: I believe in saving dishes when you can. Especially if it only adds to the flavor and has no real negative effect. I essentially used only two pots for this entire meal (which is basically an Olympic feat for me) and I’ll show you how below.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- First – make the pesto. Sautee the chopped leeks and garlic in melted butter in a large skillet at medium heat. Cook until the leeks soften and become translucent. Turn off heat and throw in your walnuts and parsley so that they warm in the still-hot butter.
- Put your leek mixture into a food processor or blender and add the lemon juice and olive oil. Process together until it makes a rough paste. Set aside.
- In the same pan – back on medium heat, add the 2 tblsps of oil and the diced onions. You’ll want to caramelize the onions a little to bring out the sweetness, so keep them on a medium-low heat, add a pinch of salt and 1 tblsp of balsamic. Stir around until the onions become darker in color, adding extra balsamic and olive oil if the mixture becomes dry. Takes between 10-12 minutes of stirring.
- Once the onions have darkened in color, throw your corn in the pan with your heavy cream and 1 tblsp of honey. Bring the mixture to a bubble and lower the heat so that it gently simmers until it has reduced by a third and thickened a bit. (Takes about 5-10 minutes)
- While you’re waiting for the creamed corn mixture to thicken – start on the rice for the risotto. Get a large pot and melt the 2 tblsps of butter at medium heat and throw in your 1 clove of garlic, diced. Once the garlic is heated in the oil and fragrant (about 15-30 seconds), pour in your rice and let it toast in the garlic butter until rice is translucent.
- Pour the 1/2 cup of white wine and stir, scraping the bottom of the pot with your spoon. Let the rice soak up the wine 80% of the way (the rice still has some liquid surrounding it). Then pour in half a cup of stock and stir until it has soaked up most of that liquid.
- Repeat the above step until stock is mostly gone and the rices has an almost porridge-like texture. Taste the rice and make sure the grains are tender but al dente.
- Just before the rice has soaked up most of the last bit of liquid, stir in your creamed corn and onion mixture and add the last tblsp of honey, salt and pepper to taste, cheese and garnish with parsley. Turn off heat, cover with lid and set aside.
11. In the same skillet used for the creamed corn – wipe it down well and melt 1 tblsp of butter and 1 tblsp of oil together at a medium heat. Get your cod, salt and pepper both sides. Once the pan is hot, sear the cod, 1 minute on each side. Take out of pan and set aside on a plate.
12. Flour a surface lightly and cut your puff pastry into four, even sections. (If you find you fish may not fit entirely, you can stretch or roll out your puff pastry a bit more so that the fish can fit between two sheets easily).
13. Lay your fish on top of one puff pastry square and dollop a heaping tblsp of the pesto on top and cover the top of the fish with it. Put the other puff pastry square on top and crimp the sides with a fork so that the fish and pesto are sealed. Repeat with the other fish.
14. Place on a greased baking tray or a non-stick baking tray. If you want to get fancy, you can brush an egg wash on top so that it looks beautiful and brown in the end.
15. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Once you eat this – maybe you’ll understand why risotto is worth the effort and why fish in puff pastry sounds ridiculous but it’s oh-so-ridiculously right for you.
The flaky, buttery crust paired with the tender fish and bright pesto – I’m weak. Plus – minimal washing up!
And don’t get me started on that corn risotto – I’m still here, in a corner of my house, eating it by the bowlfuls.
Photo Cred: All the awesome photos were taken by Nick W.