Panko-Crusted Cod with Beet-Hazelnut Puree & Lemony Kale

Panko Crusted Cod with Beet Puree.jpg

Oh Valentine’s Day, and all the feelings you inspire. Love? Lust? Despair?

One feeling that I’m sure we can all agree on is that Valentine’s Day, like any holiday really, should involve food. Food, from anywhere on the spectrum, whether it’s a 10-course prix fix, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and a bottle of rosè, or snacking on heart-shaped chocolates at work, is a welcome addition.

Let’s add another food option to the mix – one that is heart-healthy, relatively easy to prepare, and seems fancy enough to impress yourself and your loved one(s). No matter if you’re a single, or part of a double, triple, quad, or beyond, my recipe for panko-crusted cod with beet and hazelnut puree will satisfy. Happy Valentine’s Day, Food Lifers!

Panko-Crusted Cod with Beet-Hazelnut Puree and Lemony Kale

Serves 2

Ingredients

½ cup shelled hazelnuts

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

½ cup Panko bread crumbs

1 small clove garlic, minced

2 pieces of cod or other white fish, about 3-4 oz (100 g) each

½ cup cooked, cubed beets, slightly warm (I roasted one small beet the day before, then peeled and chopped it. Roast wrapped in foil at 400°F for about 40 minutes, or until soft)

¼ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

Zest of 1 lemon

2 cups roughly chopped kale, stems removed

1 small shallot, minced

Juice of half a lemon

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spread hazelnuts out evenly on a baking sheet or tray, and roast until nicely browned, shaking every 5 minutes. This will take about 15 minutes total. If you are using pre-cooked beets that are at refrigerator temperature, warm them up in the oven while your nuts are toasting. The beets don’t need to be hot, but you don’t want them to be cold.

Once the nuts are roasted, turn the oven up to 375°F.

Once nuts have cooled slightly, transfer to a clean kitchen towel and fold the towel over the nuts so they’re covered. Using firm downward pressure, rub the nuts back and forth, inside the towel, on the countertop to remove the outer skins. (For a video of this, check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzenEhpPr8E at the 40 second mark). Pick off the skins, and set the nuts aside.

In a skillet, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Once warm and shimmery, add the panko bread crumbs and toast until brown, stirring constantly (thanks @doctormeetsdietitian for this idea!). Once the bread crumbs start to brown, add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute more. Remove to a large plate and spread bread crumbs out in an even layer.

Season both sides of the cod with salt and pepper, and then dredge in the breadcrumbs, making sure all sides of the cod are evenly coated. Place the cod on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. If you do not have a thermometer, check the fish with a fork – if it flakes easily and is opaque in the centre, it’s done.

While the cod is cooking, prepare your puree by adding the hazelnuts, beets, yogurt, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and a few cracks of pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice to a food processor or high power blender. Blend thoroughly until a fairly smooth consistency is reached. I couldn’t get mine to be completely smooth because I have kind of a wimpy food processor, but it was still delish. Taste your mixture and add more salt, pepper, or lemon until it tastes exactly how you like it.

In the same skillet as you used to cook the bread crumbs, add one more tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add kale and shallot and saute until the kale is soft, about two minutes. Season the kale with a bit of salt and pepper and another squeeze of lemon. Remove from heat.

To plate your fish, take a big spoonful of your beet puree and spoon it onto one side of the plate, then spread it across the plate in a straight line using the back of your spoon. Place your fish on top of the puree, and spoon the kale to the side. Ta da! You fancy now.

Eat immediately. You can also follow dinner with my super-simple dark chocolate pudding, which was last years’ Valentine’s day recipe.