17 January 2012

Pesto crusted cod with roast vegetable giant couscous

As you no doubt know, I've been looking for low calorie, healthy recipes with a view to us all trimming a little of the Christmas-induced waistline width.

I am also very keen to include more fish in our diet.  Amazingly, we all like fish - and we just don't make as much of it as we could do, because of the price in the supermarket.  We do have a fishmonger down in Lower Parkstone that we've spotted, but disabled access to the shop is quite difficult.  I think I'm going to have to send hubby in there to have a recce before I try staggering across the road and standing up long enough to view all the fish on offer (and absorb some of the prices!) before attempting to stagger back to the car, without bursting into tears or hyperventilating.  It'd be great to find a fishmonger (or fishmungler, as they're known in this house) because then I won't be restricted to cod, haddock or river cobbler.  I'd absolutely LOVE to get my hands on a crab or two, plus sardines - well, all manner of fish and shellfish!

In the meantime, however, I've been attempting to make something of the frozen fish on offer at the supermarket.  It is, at least, almost affordable in price even if it does require copious amounts of kitchen paper in order to squeeze the water from it!

I had decided to make some oven-baked fish - and cod won the toss, in this instance.  You could just as easily use any other type of firm fleshed white fish - haddock is perfect.

The preparation is really easy - just take a nice pesto and spread a teaspoonful across the top of each fillet or piece of fish.  Then, mix together some grated parmesan and breadcrumbs with a little black pepper and pat onto the top of the pesto.

After some 20-25 minutes in the hot oven, the fish was opaque and the crust crunchy.  Delicious!

I'd originally decided to make a roast vegetable couscous, however during the week I'd found some Mograbiah (or giant couscous) and decided to use some of that instead.

I had diced some parsnips, carrot, onion, courgette, red pepper and a baby aubergine which I roasted in olive oil, together with some thyme and garlic.  I cooked the Mograbiah in vegetable stock and simply tossed it together with the vegetables, a little lemon juice and some chopped mint and parsley.  Of course, you don't have to use Mograbiah - normal couscous would do just fine.  As such, I've written the recipe for normal couscous as it's more easily found in the shops.

The two recipes worked very well together.  Hubby found that the mint was a bit too heavy, however I was perfectly happy with the flavours - but then, I love mint!

Considering that the two recipes were either conceived on the spur of the moment, or with fingers crossed (as to whether the fish would be soggy), I was very pleased with how it came out.  Son & heir ate all his fish but was selective about the couscous.  Hubby would eat it again, but with less mint.  I would eat it again, just as it was!


Ingredients :

3 fillets of firm fleshed white fish
3 tsp pesto
a handful of breadcrumbs
a handful of grated parmesan
freshly ground black pepper
150g couscous
120ml vegetable stock, boiling
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced 
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 courgette, diced
1 baby aubergine (or another courgette), diced
1 red pepper, cut into 2cm squares
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
small handful of parsley, chopped finely
2-3 sprigs of mint, leaves removed and chopped
sea salt.

Method :

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 200deg C (fan)/400deg F/gas 6.

2.  Place the parsnip and carrot cubes into a bowl with the garlic and thyme.  Drizzle with olive oil and add a pinch of sea salt.  Toss to mix thoroughly, then turn out onto a baking tray and put in the oven for 15 minutes.

3.  Add the remaining vegetable cubes to the bowl you've just used (which should still be a little garlicky) and drizzle with olive oil, to wait its turn in the oven.

4.  Place the fish into a baking dish, allowing a little space between the fillets.

5.  Spread a tsp of the pesto over each fillet, then in a small bowl mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan and pepper.  Pat the breadcrumb mix into the pesto, taking care to leave the crumbs loose enough that they will crisp in the oven.

6.  Remove the carrot & parsnip from the oven and add the remaining vegetable cubes to the tray, spreading to an even layer.  Replace to roast for 20-25 minutes.

7.  Put the fish in the oven for the same 20-25 minutes.

8.  In the meantime, in a deep bowl, add the boiling vegetable stock to the couscous.  Cover with cling film and leave to absorb the stock for 10-15 minutes.

9.  Uncover the couscous and fluff up with a fork.

10. Remove the fish from the oven and keep warm whilst you finish off the couscous.

11.  When the vegetables are fully roasted, browned and lovely, add them to the couscous and gently stir through.

12.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice and the chopped parsley & mint.  Taste and add a pinch of sea salt, if necessary.

13.  Serve.


  1. Mmmm, sounds lovely! I agree with you though re supermarket fish - it can be difficult to get much variety. Fortunately, we've got a couple of good places locally and we tend to stock up whenever we go.

    Have you thought about trying online? I get regular emails from the Fish Society and there are discounts to be had if you keep an eye out.


  2. I have to admit, Seren, that I haven't investigated online for fish. That's mainly because I (perhaps wrongly) believe that you'd need to buy in far more bulk than I want to. You see, I'd really rather not freeze fish - and even if I did go down the freezing route, our freezer is so tiny (with no space for anything bigger) that it'd be impossible anyway. However, I will investigate further, thanks!


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