Mediterranean Baked Cod with Tomatoes and Capers

A rich, complex sauce adds Mediterranean flavor to this simple and healthy baked fish recipe. Mediterranean Baked Cod with Tomatoes and Capers and a simple salad or steamed vegetable, is quick enough for a weeknight, yet elegant enough for a special occasion!

Mediterranean Baked Cod with lemony orzo on a round black ceramic plate with black flatware. It's low calorie, Mediterranean diet compliant, clean, delicious!

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

~~ Charles Caleb Colton

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Mediterranean Baked Cod

Update: This Mediterranean-inspired fish recipe was originally published in October 2015. It’s getting a complete redo in June 2023. FINALLY.

We don’t do “fast food,” so I try to keep pantry items that allow me to prepare a meal quickly and with what I have on hand. I found this Kaldi Saganaki Anise, Black Olives, and Capers Cooking Sauce at my local HEB that was fabulous. The flavors of this Greek-inspired sauce got my “wheels-a-turning,” and I came up with my own homemade version…

The fish bakes in a rich tomato sauce flavored with shallots, capers, tapenade, anise seeds, fresh oregano, and of course, garlic. If you like a little heat (like we do!), you’ll want to add the optional crushed red pepper. I promise it will keep you coming back for more! Healthy fish dishes are my “jam.”

Much of the food I prepare loosely follows the Mediterranean diet. Heart-healthy fats, garlic, tomatoes, lean meats and fish, and minimally processed foods make this a very healthy diet/lifestyle. I keep fish fillets in my freezer, and the pantry items in my well-stocked pantry.

I frequently turn to flavors from this region when I need inspiration and want to avoid a trip to the market. I keep orzo in my pantry, and lemons in my fruit basket, so lemony orzo makes a simple but delicious side dish. If you’re interested in more Mediterranean-style fish recipes, be sure to check out this easy Mediterranean fish that cooks on the stove!

📋 Ingredients Notes

Mediterranean baked fish ingredients - Fish fillets, sauce ingredients, feta set out on a wood cutting board and ready to put together this quick and healthy dish!
  • olive oil
  • anchovy paste – Anchovies and anchovy paste are very typical in Mediterranean recipes. I keep anchovy paste on hand for quick dishes like this baked fish recipe. You may prefer to use 1-2 whole anchovies. Just mash them with a fork and add with the other aromatics.
  • shallot – Red, yellow, or sweet onion are fine as well.
  • garlic
  • anise seed – The anise seeds are an important flavor note in the tomato sauce. You can substitute fennel seeds in a pinch, but they lack the sweetness of anise seed. They do share the black licorice flavor.
  • crushed red pepper – Crushed red pepper is certainly optional. We like a little heat, and I add about a teaspoon. You definitely know it’s there, but it’s not overwhelming. Omit if you don’t like spicy foods.
  • tomatoes – Use good quality canned tomatoes. I use San Marzano DOP tomatoes if I have them, and I use this tool to break them down. Crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes are fine as is.
  • oregano – Oregano is key. I have mass quantities of fresh oregano in my garden, so I always use fresh. However, dried Mediterranean oregano leaves are fine. Reduce quantity to 1 teaspoon.
  • tapenade – I love to make my own, but the dish will not suffer if you substitute a good prepared tapenade.
  • capers
  • fish – My preference is cod or barramundi, but you can use any firm, white fish like halibut, tilapia, snapper, etc.
  • feta – Feta is quintessential Greek/Mediterranean cheese. I have not substituted, but I think pecorino romano, cotija, goat cheese, parmesan, manchego, etc. would be fine. A little salty tang is what we’re looking for, so it doesn’t need to be a melty cheese.
  • garnishes – Garnish with finely chopped fresh herbs and lemon wedges. Parsley, oregano, rosemary, thyme are all good options.

🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°. NOTE: If you use an oven-safe pan like a cast iron skillet, this is a one pot dish!
Step 1 - Aromatics - anchovy paste, shallot, garlic, olive oil, anise seed, and crushed red pepper - in a cast iron skillet.
  • Sauté the aromatics – Add the olive oil to the skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the anchovy paste, shallot, crushed red pepper, and anise seed. Cook 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add the garlic, and cook an additional minute or so.
Step 2 - Add tomatoes, capers, tapenade to the skillet.
  • Finish the tomato sauce – Add the tomatoes, capers, tapenade, and oregano. Stir to combine. If tomato sauce looks dry, add a little broth or water. Bring to a boil before adding the fish.
Step 3 - Nestle the fish into the tomato and capers sauce mixture in the skillet.
  • Cook the fish – Nestle the fish fillets into the sauce, spooning a little sauce to cover. Place the skillet in the preheated oven. The fish should only require about 15 minutes total unless you have thick fish fillets (like sea bass).
  • Finish the baked fish – About 5 minutes before the fish is done, sprinkle the cheese over the tomato sauce and fish. NOTE: To check for doneness, insert a fork into the fish. It should be flaky.
  • Serve – Plate the fish and tomato sauce with feta, fresh herbs, and lemon wedges alongside the lemony orzo or other side dish. Enjoy!
Mediterranean baked cod on a black plate with black flatware, cloth napkin, white wine, parsley sprig.

❓ FAQ

Is this fish recipe good left over?

I don’t recommend it. Leftover fish is no bueno in my mind. However, extra sauce is amazing. Consider freezing extra sauce to thaw and use with fish another day!

Do I have to use anchovy paste?

The short answer? NO. Anchovy brings a bit of “umami” to the sauce that we love, but you probably won’t miss it if you don’t like it.

💭 Top Tips

Consider making extra sauce. Freeze it in an airtight container or zip bag. When thawed, you have a super easy second meal with more fish.

Practice portion control. I recommend 6 ounces with lean, white fish. Accompanied by 2 ounces (dry weight) of orzo, rice, or pasta, you’re doing well.

I choose smaller salad plates in plating my food in place of large dinner plates in many cases. The smaller plate makes it look like a more generous portion.

If you’re making the lemony orzo, start it while the fish bakes. It should be just about ready when the fish is done.

With the tapenade and capers, the sauce (and the fish) don’t really need any additional salt for our taste. Make sure you always check for seasoning.

🍷 Pairing Suggestions

We enjoy the robust flavors of Mediterranean Baked Cod with Tomatoes and Capers with a bottle of Spanish Torrontes – a very crisp, dry white wine with a hint of citrus. A sauvignon blanc would be another excellent option.

I highly recommend the lemony orzo, and I do include it in the recipe card below if you are interested! Serve with crusty bread for a simpler option. Of course a green salad is always a welcome (and healthy) side dish!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes.

A cast iron skillet with Mediterranean baked cod with tomatoes and capers and a striped napkin.

Mediterranean Baked Fish with Tomatoes and Capers

A rich, complex sauce adds Mediterranean flavor to simple and healthy baked fish served with lemony orzo…
5 from 4 votes

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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Greek, Mediterranean
Servings 4 servings
Calories 402 kcal

Equipment

  • 12" cast iron skillet

Ingredients
  

Sauce

Fish

  • tomato and caper sauce - above
  • 24 ounces firm white fish fillets - see Ingredients in Post
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled - more or less according to preference
  • Italian parsley - to garnish

Lemony Orzo

  • 3 cups chicken/vegetable stock on low heat
  • 1 shallot - minced
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • sea salt/fresh ground pepper - taste before adding more salt!

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees (375 convection).

Sauce

  • Add olive oil to a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic, shallots, crushed red pepper, and anchovy paste (if using). Saute until fragrant, and shallots are nearly translucent.
  • Add anise seed, and dried oregano leaves if using. Stir to combine, and saute about 1 minute.
  • Add capers, tapenade, tomatoes, and fresh oregano if using. Stir well.
  • Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes (more or less).

Fish

  • Select a pan that will keep the fish fillets cozy but not crowded. Some overlap is fine.
  • Ladle about 2/3 of the tomato sauce into the pan, and spread evenly across the bottom. Arrange fish in a single layer. Again, some overlap is fine.
  • Ladle the remaining sauce over top of the fish down the center of the pan.
  • Place in the hot oven. Cook 5-10 minutes until the fish begins to look opaque. While it bakes, start the orzo. The broth should be hot already.
  • When fish begins to look opaque, sprinkle with crumbled feta, and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes. Be careful to not overcook. I have used tilapia and flounder fillets, and they typically require a total cooking time of 10-15 minutes on convection, and that is equivalent to about 12-18 minutes total in a standard oven. Of course the thickness of the fillets determines the cooking time. Remove from the oven and finish the orzo.

Lemony Orzo

  • To a medium sauce pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and the shallots over medium high heat. Saute until shallots are nearly translucent.
  • Add the orzo. Stir to coat.
  • Zest the lemon and reserve. Squeeze the juice (without seeds) over the orzo. Stir again.
  • Begin to add hot broth/stock to the pan a ladle full at a time. Allow the liquid to absorb before adding additional. When the pasta is al dente, STOP adding liquid. You don’t want it to be mushy! Stir in the reserved zest.

To Serve

  • To each plate, carefully add a fish fillet with a spatula. Add additional sauce from the pan if necessary. Serve the Lemony Orzo alongside. Garnish fish and orzo with chopped Italian parsley.

Notes

Use crushed red pepper to taste, or omit entirely. I use 1/2 teaspoon, but we like the heat!
Dried oregano leaves are fine in place of fresh. I wouldn’t suggest ground.
I watch sodium levels, and with the tapenade and capers, the sauce (and the fish) don’t really need any additional salt for our taste. Make sure you always check for seasoning.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 402kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 21g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

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