This is the perfect weeknight surf and turf entree. Bacon (or pancetta) and flaky white fish (cod, halibut, haddock, hake, for example) are opposites that attract eaters who might otherwise turn up their noses at the seafood option on offer. From the cook’s point of view, the pair is well-matched. Bacon is salty to fresh fish’s sweet tone; fat to its lean; and, crispy to its tender. —cheese1227
6 canned or frozen artichoke hearts, quartered
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Leaves from 3 to 4 Italian parsley stems
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Four 5-ounce pieces of cod, preferably the loin, but you can work with the tail end of the fillet if need be
In the bowl of a food processor, place artichoke hearts, pistachios, 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and parsley leaves. Process the ingredients until you have a spreadable paste. Season the pesto with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees (400 if you are using convection heat). Oil the bottom of a glass or ceramic baking dish.
Butterfly each cod loin by running a sharp knife along the side of the fillet, cutting it 3/4 of the way through the piece of fish, but leaving it attached. The cut loins should open like a book. Season both sides of each fillet with salt and pepper. Turn them so the cut side faces upwards. Spread 1/4 of the pesto inside each loin and close them.
If you are working with the tail ends of the fillet, just season them. Place the skin side (there won’t actually be skin, but you can tell where it used to be -- it’s the uglier side) up and slather the pesto on that side. Fold the fillet in half so the pesto is on the inside.
Unravel the pancetta slices into long strands that look more like American bacon. Take one to two pieces of pancetta and wrap around one pesto-stuffed cod loin. Place the wrapped loins in the prepared baking dish. (Make ahead note: These bundles can sit in the fridge for several hours before cooking.)
When ready to roast, drizzle each loin with olive oil and sprinkle thyme leaves over them. Roast on the middle rack in the hot oven for 12 minutes until the fish is almost cooked through. Turn on the broiler. Broil for 2 minutes to fully crisp up the pancetta.
Let the fish rest out of the oven for two minutes. I tend to serve this with lemon wedges and roasted broccoli (and a crisp white wine!)
I am an excellent eater (I have been all my life). I’m a pretty good cook (Ask my kids!). And my passable writing improves with alcohol (whether it's the writer or the reader that needs to drink varies by sentence.). I just published my first cookbook, Green Plate Special, which focuses on delicious recipes that help every day cooks eat more sustainably.