Easy Mediterranean Fish with White Beans

This Easy Mediterranean Fish with White Beans is a quick, healthy, and delicious stove top fish recipe, and a great way to prepare inexpensive fish fillets! With fresh spinach, canned or fresh tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, and crushed red pepper, this Mediterranean style fish recipe packs loads of bold flavor in a one-dish meal that comes together in about 30 minutes.

Easy Mediterranean Fish With Cannelini Beans, Tomatoes, & Spinach - 2 servings in black ceramic bowls with fresh herbs and lemon

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – What is “Mediterranean” Fish?

NOTE: Post originally published January 2014. It has been completely updated, but the recipe remains unchanged. When I originally posted this healthy fish recipe on January 3, 2014, I was in the “overcome holiday excess” mindset. Fast forward to 2023, and this easy fish recipe still makes a regular appearance at Andersen casa!

The Mediterranean diet is a dietary lifestyle (rather than a “diet”) inspired by the cuisines of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea – Greece, Italy, Spain, Morocco, etc. It is renowned for its potential health benefits and has been extensively studied. It features, but is not limited to:

  • Emphasis on fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and herbs
  • Healthy fats with olive oil as the primary fat source
  • Moderate consumption of dairy products with emphasis on Greek yogurt and cheese
  • Moderate consumption of eggs
  • Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids in the Mediterranean diet. Poultry is also consumed in moderation
  • Limited red meat consumption
  • Fresh fruit as dessert

Mediterranean fish recipes are likely to include olive oil, tomatoes, and fresh herbs, and this easy Mediterranean fish recipe is no exception. White beans are a staple in Mediterranean cooking, as are greens. You’re sure to love the combination!

🐟 What If Fresh Fish Isn’t Available?

Eating more fish can be a great way of addressing both your budget and dietary concerns. Purchasing fish need not be a “budget buster.” Many inexpensive options are now available. Having lived in landlocked New Mexico, we didn’t have access to fresh fish options. However, flash-frozen varieties were readily available.

I have found membership warehouse chains such as Costco and Sam’s Club to be excellent sources of inexpensive, good-quality flash frozen fish. We bought tilapia, cod, and flounder on a regular basis.

While I do splurge on tuna, salmon, and sea bass occasionally, my weekly meal planning relies heavily on more affordable fish species. In addition to affordability and health considerations, I prefer sustainable and environmentally sound choices. Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch is an excellent resource for making well-informed selections when purchasing fish.

The site includes a search engine for an extensive listing of fish species and fisheries with recommendations based on how well the fishery is managed, method of catch/farming, location, subspecies, market names, etc. In 2023, my “go to” frozen fish choice is barramundi.

❤️ What We Love About Mediterranean Fish

This recipe comes together quickly, making it a great choice for weeknights. If you’ve been following my blog, you know I am a firm believer in a well-stocked pantry, and I always have several types of canned beans on hand, including cannelini. I consider my freezer to be part of my “pantry,” and I keep the fish fillets on hand as well.

I am never without good quality petite diced tomatoes. I buy the large tub of organic fresh baby spinach at Sam’s Club on a weekly basis. It keeps well in the refrigerator for a week. The balance of the ingredient list is always in my pantry, so I am “off to the races.”

I can complete this dish in 30 focused minutes! “Focused” is a qualifier when I cook as I fight a losing battle with ADD at times, and, I love a glass of wine while I cook 😉 .

  • It’s quick. This healthy fish recipe can be on your table in 30 minutes!
  • It’s Gluten free.
  • It’s relatively low carb (beans are fiber-rich and okay on a low carb diet).
  • It’s healthy and well-balanced with 488 calories, 49 g protein, 50 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat
Mediterranean Fish With Cannelini, Tomatoes, and Spinach before the fish is added to a red cast iron skillet.
Firm white fish sits atop this healthy cannelini beans, tomatoes, and spinach mixture!

📋 Ingredients Notes

Ingredients for Mediterranean fish with cannelini beans including fish, cannelini beans, spinach, onion, tomatoes, etc.
  • olive oil
  • onion
  • garlic Pre-minced garlic in a jar is a great time saver!
  • crushed red pepper – Crushed red pepper is spicy, so proceed carefully. I use 1 teaspoon.
  • fresh rosemary – I really haven’t found a substitute that I like as well. You can substitute dried rosemary, but cut to about 1/3 of the amount. Fresh thyme (or dried thyme leaves) is probably the best substitute.
  • canned tomatoes – I either use San Marzano tomatoes, and break them up with a meat masher, or I use petite diced tomatoes. I use them with their juice. I have also used fresh tiny tomatoes, but I start them first, and cook until they get some color and start to burst. In this case, I add a little bit of broth. If you like tomatoes, the 28 ounce can is not too much. If you don’t, you’re probably fine with the smaller can.
  • cannelini beans – This quick and easy fish recipe starts with cooked beans. You can use either rinsed and drained or completely cooked from dried beans. If you can’t find cannelini, substitute any white bean.
  • baby spinach – Substitute any young greens for quick cooking. You can do this recipe with kale or chard (it’s good!), by simmering the mature greens in the tomato/beans mixture rather than adding at the end.
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • firm white fish – My preference is barramundi, but you can use any firm, white fish like cod, tilapia, snapper, etc.
  • lemon – Use fresh lemon juice! If you use bottled juice, don’t tell me.😉
  • fresh parsley and lemon to garnish

🔪 Cooking Instructions

  • Mis en place – Gathering your ingredients and equipment before beginning allows you to cook more efficiently, and makes less mess. A large sauté pan and a deeper covered skillet or dutch oven should get the job done. NOTE: On photo day, I was cooking for 2, so you’re seeing a smaller amount of the ingredients.
Step 1 - Sautéing the aromatics - onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, and rosemary in a skillet.
  • Sauté the aromatics – Sauté the garlic and onion in olive oil, add the crushed red pepper and rosemary (if using,) and stir until onions are translucent.
Step 2 - Tomatoes with their juice and cannelini beans added to the skillet.
  • Simmer the tomatoes and beans – Cover the pan and let the mixture simmer while you prepare the fish.
Step 3 - 2 fish fillets in a sauté pan before turning.
  • Prepare the fish – To a sauté pan on medium-high heat, add the olive oil and the remaining garlic. Add the seasoned fish fillets to the pan. Watch the fish carefully as over-cooked fish is not tasty. Lift the edge of the fish fillets, and when they are golden brown, carefully turn the fillets. Keep warm while you finish the beans mixture
Step 4 - The spinach is added to the skillet with the beans and tomatoes, and wilted.
  • Finish the dish – After turning the fillets, add spinach to the pot with the beans and tomatoes, and give it a good stir. Return the lid to the pot for an additional 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted.
  • To serve – In a shallow bowl or plate with an edge (it’s saucy), plate the beans mixture. Top with a fish portion, and garnish with lemon wedge and fresh herbs as desired.
Easy Mediterranean fish with cannelini beans, spinach, and tomatoes in a black stoneware bowl.

What kind of fish is best for this Mediterranean fish recipe?

I have used tilapia, barramundi, snapper, sheepshead, and farm-raised catfish successfully. Any firm, mild white fish will work.

Do you prefer using dried cannelini beans?

Cook them ahead and freeze in 2 cup portions.

💭 Tips

  • Quick thaw by placing frozen fillets in a deep bowl filled with water.
  • Gathering ingredients and equipment beforehand will save time.
  • For the best pan-seared fish, pat the fillets very dry, and season with salt and pepper. Cook on a very hot but not smoking pan.
  • Substitute young greens for quick cooking or kale or chard by simmering until tender.
  • Use fresh spinach. Wilted fresh spinach makes this dish special. Frozen spinach is not a good substitute.
  • Choose your cookware wisely. You will need a large sauté pan for the fish to allow for turning. The spinach takes up a lot of space in a pan/pot prior to wilting. A Dutch oven works well.

If you love Mediterranean flavors, you might like these One-Pan Mediterranean Pork Chops, this Instant Pot pork roast, or this Greek-style panko crusted cod. I’m sure you’ll see their commonality.

Keeping cannelini beans, petite diced tomatoes, minced garlic, crushed red pepper, and olive oil in your pantry, frozen fish fillets in your freezer, and fresh spinach in your refrigerator will allow you to whip up this healthy fish dish regularly. I do not exaggerate when I say this stove top fish recipe makes an appearance on our table on a regular basis!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

Mediterranean Fish With Cannelini Beans, Tomatoes, and Spinach in a black ceramic bowl with lemon wedges.

Easy Mediterranean Fish with White Beans

A quick, healthy, and delicious way to prepare inexpensive fish fillets!
4.54 from 39 votes

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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Tuscan
Servings 4 servings
Calories 488 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil - divided
  • 1 medium onion - chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic - divided
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper - to taste (it's spicy!)
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary - finely chopped
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes - with their juice; see Ingredients Notes
  • 2 – 15 ounce cans cannelini beans - rinsed and drained
  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves - washed and dried
  • salt and pepper - to taste
  • 1.5 pounds firm white fish - 4 fillets patted dry and seasoned with salt (see notes) and pepper
  • fresh parsley and lemon to garnish
  • 1 lemon - juiced

Instructions

  • In a very large, deep skillet with a lid or a dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil. Add onion and 1 tsp. garlic. Saute until onion is translucent. Be careful to not burn the garlic.
  • Add crushed red pepper and rosemary. Stir.
  • Add diced tomatoes and cannelini beans. Stir. Cover the pan, and reduce heat to simmer while cooking the fish.
  • In a large saute pan on medium-high heat, add remaining tablespoon olive oil and the remaining teaspoon of garlic. Give it a good stir. When garlic is sizzling, add fish fillets to the pan.
  • After a couple of minutes, lift the edge of the fish. When the fish shows some browning, and beginning to become opaque white on the top, carefully turn the fish using a spatula.
  • While fish cooks on the second side, add fresh spinach to the bean and tomato mixture. Give it a good stir, and replace the lid. Turn off the heat. Allow the spinach to wilt. Check for seasoning. Stir to combine.
  • Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over the cooked fish fillets.

To serve:

  • Divide the cannelini bean, tomato, spinach mixture among 4 plates or large shallow bowls. You need a little bit of a lip to confine the juices.
  • Top each with a fish fillet, and garnish with parsley and a wedge of lemon if desired.

Notes

I highly recommend really good tomatoes in this recipe. If you enjoy tomatoes, 28 ounces is great. If you’re really not a fan, the smaller 14 ounces can is fine.

Nutrition

Calories: 488kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 49g | Fat: 11g

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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19 Comments

    1. I apologize for the confusion Bill! I use really good San Marzano tomatoes in this dish, and if I’m serving 4, I use a 28 ounce can. We love them, so I don’t feel like it’s too much. If you don’t love tomatoes, the smaller can will probably suit you fine. I will go clarify that right now. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    1. Hola! Thanks for asking! I somehow managed to leave that information out of the recipe card. UGH. I have corrected my mistake. This recipe has been made many times. It’s one I make regularly. I don’t know how we missed it. Thanks for calling it to my attention. It’s one can of diced tomatoes with the juice. I hope you’ll give it a try…

  1. Absolutely delicious! This recipe is easy and was well received with my husband. Used cod instead of the talapia, loved the flavor.

    1. Thank you for taking time to provide feedback! I’m so glad you liked the recipe! It’s definitely a regular at house because it’s healthy, flavorful, and so easy to whip up. Thanks again!

    1. I think a lot of people had a bad experience with improperly cooked or spoiled fish, and they just can’t go back to it… I would rather have a fish dish than just about anything else!

  2. Well this is going into our regular dinner rotation. After cleaning up our dishes I immediately texted this recipes to all my friends and family. My husband and I loved it (he wants it again tomorrow) even my picky 7 year old took his first bite of fish based off the delicious aroma that filled my kitchen. It reminds me of a Marocan fish dish I make but this blows it out of the water! So excited to have found your site- i can’t wait to try more of your recipes!! What’s your favorite??