I’ve decided, as a family, we just don’t eat enough fish and I think we’re probably not alone there! It was easy growing up by the sea, to be able to enjoy an abundance of really fresh seafood, but sadly, fish doesn’t make such a regular feature anymore, yet I love it. I often make smoked mackerel pate and we have salmon quite frequently, occasional fish barbecues in the summer, but I know I could include more. Its finding a good reliable supply that makes all the difference.
My plan is to try and include a greater variety of fish and seafood in our regular meals and shop around to find the freshest I can. Fish can be quite expensive, but by stretching it out with lots of other ingredients you can get all the delicious flavours and a substantial meal too. This Sunday I put our normal Sunday Roast to one side and served cod instead. There was a surprised, and I have to admit, slightly disappointed look on at least one of the faces around the table but luckily I won them over with this recipe! (The Sunday Roast is an important part of the week to my family, so I have promised one for next week!!)
It may look a complicated dish but it really is so easy to make, perfect for busy evenings when you’ve got so many other things to do as well as preparing a meal! Served with plenty of steamed vegetables this will provide a good balance of nutrients and a very generous and healthy serving of vegetables. Protein from the fish, combined with fat from the olive oil and slow releasing carbs from the sweet potato is a winning combination on many levels!
2 large sweet potatoes
8-10 garlic cloves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g cod fillet
8 very thin slices Parma ham, about 100g
large handful of baby spinach leaves
juice of 1/2 lemon
220g cherry tomatoes
handful black olives (optional)
lemon wedges and steamed vegetables to accompany
Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Scrub the skins of the sweet potatoes but don’t peel them. Cut into very thin slices and spread out on a large baking sheet. Wash and thinly slice the aubergine.
Add the aubergine to the sweet potato, drizzle with a little olive oil and season well. Toss the vegetables together and spread out into an even layer. Scatter over the garlic cloves and place in the oven to cook for about 30 minutes until beginning to soften and turn golden brown. Turn the vegetables half way through cooking if they begin to brown too quickly.
Meanwhile divide the cod into four portions. Lay 2 slices of Parma ham out on a work surface and top with a single layer of spinach leaves. Sprinkle over a little lemon juice and season with black pepper. Place one piece of fish at one end of the parma ham and roll up to enclose, tucking any lose pieces of ham underneath. Don’t worry if the ham doesn’t quite enclose the fish, its great to see the colours coming through as it cooks. Repeat with the remaining ingredients until you have four cod parcels.
When the vegetables have been cooking for 30 minutes turn them over and spread out into an even layer again. Place the fish on top and scatter the tomatoes around. Drizzle over any remaining lemon juice and return the tray to the oven for a further 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through, the Parma ham is beginning to crisp and the vegetables are tender and golden brown. If you are adding olives scatter them around the fish 5 minutes before the end of cooking time.
Serve with a lemon wedge to squeeze over and plenty of steamed vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and green beans to accompany.
This makes a perfect supper dish but would also be great served for a dinner party, simply multiply the ingredients up to serve more people.
If you can’t find cod fillet, then try haddock or monkfish. As monkfish is denser than cod you may find it needs a few extra minutes to cook through.