Cod with Rustic Tomato-Fennel Sauce

If the Mediterranean diet tends to suit your fancy, this lovely Cod with Rustic Tomato-Fennel Sauce should grab you attention. Leave out the bread and you have a healthy, low-carb meal in no time. The recipe works well with any firm, meaty fish such as cod, salmon, haddock or striped sea bass. You could even use extra-large shrimp.

The sauce is chockfull of flavor with the additions of garlic, capers, lemon, fennel and olives. In the original recipe, it calls for only 1 1/2 cups of marinara, whereas I used an entire 25 ounce jar, but did not include the 1/2 cup of water. I figured why water it down only to reduce the sauce afterward?


Cod with Rustic Tomato-Fennel Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large bulb fennel, core removed, cut into 1/2-inch dice, fronds reserved
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pitted Castelvetrano olives
  • 3 Tbs. capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small lemon, peel removed and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups good-quality marinara sauce
  • 2 lbs. skinless cod fillets
  • Rustic crusty bread (optional)


  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil until shimmering. Add the fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and light golden, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the olives, capers, peel, oregano, and pepper flakes. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  3. Add the marinara and 1/2 cup water (I did not add water, but added a lot more marinara), and reduce the heat to medium low. Gently simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, pat the fish dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  5. Add the fish and cook, flipping once, until light golden-brown on the outside and the flesh is translucent when cut into, about 5 minutes total. Do not crowd the fish in the pan otherwise you’ll steam instead of brown them. You may have to sear in two batches.
  6. Spoon the sauce into shallow bowls, and top with a fish fillet. garnish with the reserved fennel fronds, and serve with the bread, if you like.

Adapted from a recipe by Heather Meldrom from Fine Cooking


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