My friend Sheryl brought me some fabulously fresh ground sumac from her vacation in Jordan. (I’ve since found sumac to be great on boiled yuca — a very underrated starch. Added to the requisite mojo de ajo it yields a zesty, citrus-like flavor, and a a nice speckling of color.)
In this dish, the sumac is playing a more subordinate role, but it adds a pleasant complexity to the overall taste.
Baked Cod with Cannelini Beans and Roasted Tomato
1 pound fresh cod, cut into 6-inch filets
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp high quality extra virgin olive oil (good for you if you use your best olive oil for all 4 tbsps)
1 large onion, halved then sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 large can whole plum tomatoes
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon rind, grated
1 tbsp orange or tangerine rind, grated
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp ground sumac
2 bay (laurel) leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 can (16 oz.) Italian cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
sea salt (to taste)
Preheat the oven to 375º F.
Drain the tomatoes — and retain the juice for Bloody Marys or vegetable stock or some such thing. You”ll find the juice tastier than canned tomato juice (so heavily salted and often reconstituted). Cut each tomato in half, just once, and set aside in a bowl.
Heat a large sauté pan with the 3 tbsps of olive oil, and cook the onions until just soft. Then add all the ingredients except the cannelini beans and parsley. Yes, really, all of them all at once. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes — until the tomatoes are soft but not falling apart.
While the mixture is cooking, take the drained, rinsed cannelini beans and stir in a bowl with the one tbsp high of quality extra virgin olive oil. Add a bit of fresh-ground pepper to the beans if you like, and set aside.
Salt and pepper the cod, and arrange in a 3 quart (on similar-sized) glass baking pan so that there is a bit of space in the center for the cannelini beans. A bit of olive oil under the fish will keep it from sticking to the pan. When the contents of the sauté pan are done, turn off the heat, mix in the chopped parsley, and pour the contents of the sauté pan on the fish. Then pour the cannelini beans on the small space you left in the center of the baking pan.
Bake for 15 minutes, at 375º F. Do not overcook. Remember the glass stays hot, and will continue to cook the fish a bit even after you remove it from the oven.
Serve with good, crusty Italian bread and a dry white (a white Beaujolais, Vermentino, or Chardonnay, would work well).