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Baked Cod with Pesto

I love the pop of flavor pesto adds to a tender baked cod fillet! You can absolutely use store-bought pesto, but if you’re looking for a cheese-less version, I include it in the recipe.

Baked Cod covered in pesto on a white plate with white rice and a lemon wedge.


Do you ever go through phases with food? Right now I’m in pesto land. All I want is pesto – particularly on baked cod.

The thing that keeps me from going completely overboard with one flavor or type of food is my kids. In my attempt at giving them a variety of foods and flavors to try, I’ve created little variety monsters. We can’t eat something two days in a row or there’s a mutiny.

Unless it’s pancakes or pizza. Obviously.

One night I made some baked cod and threw some pesto on top. Noticing the leftover pesto in the bowl and the mashed sweet potatoes in the pot next to me, I threw a spoonful of pesto into that as well.

I glanced at the roasted broccoli and cauliflower mix and REALLY wanted to toss it with pesto as well, but I thought, “Nat, don’t overdo it.”

Raw cod fillets in a glass dish covered with pesto.

Luckily I didn’t because my pesto-loving kids informed me AS WE SAT DOWN TO EAT THAT NIGHT that they no longer liked pesto.

Did I mention that they’re incredibly finicky, too? I’m sure many of you can relate to feeding little humans.

At least Steve and I aren’t quite as finicky. And I want to tell you with complete honesty that  this was one of the best meals I’ve made so far this year.

Baked cod in a glass dish.

Can I use a different type of fish?

Sure!

Just about any fish would do. White fish like halibut or rockfish would do really well. So would salmon. If you use thinner white fish like tilapia or dover sole, you’ll want to reduce the baking time quite a bit.

A pretty white plate with pesto-covered baked cod with white rice, a lemon wedge, and a sprig of fresh basil.

Can I use store-bought pesto for baked cod?

Absolutely! Use whatever pesto you prefer.

The homemade lemon-basil pesto recipe that I included below is delicious and dairy-free. The lemon keeps the basil from turning brown and brightens the flavor.

You could also change it up by using Dill Pesto or Cilantro Pesto!

If you like this baked cod recipe, try one of these other easy cod recipes on my site!

More easy cod recipes on Perry’s Plate

These recipes can be made with just about any white fish.

Grilled Sablefish with Garlic-Herb Oil is DELICIOUS with any kind of white fish and can also be made in the oven.

Quick Thai Fish Curry with Coconut Rice is an exotic home for some lonely white fish fillets. And you’ll love the Instant Pot Coconut Rice that goes along with it.

One of my favorite uses for white fish is Chile-Lime Fish Taco Bowls. This is one of those recipes that comes out a little differently depending on what I have on hand — like most taco bowls/salads.

Coconut Almond Crusted Fish with Tropical Mash convinced me that coconut milk makes super tasty mashed potatoes. Try it!

Creamy Dill Foil Packet Fish is a light, easy, and delicious meal

Baked Cod with Pesto

Baked Cod with Pesto

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

I love the pop of flavor pesto adds to a tender fish fillet! You can absolutely use store-bought pesto, but if you're looking for a cheese-less version, I include it in the recipe.

Ingredients

For the fish

  • 4 cod fillets (around 6-8 ounces each)
  • 3 Tablespoons avocado oil
  • juice from half a large lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • a few generous pinches of black pepper
  • Additional lemon wedges, for serving

For the pesto

  • 2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • Zest from 1 large lemon
  • Juice from half a large lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1/2 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

First zest the lemon and place the zest in the work bowl of a food processor. Cut the lemon in half.

Grab a glass baking dish (8 or 9-inch square) and squeeze in the juice from one lemon half. Add the oil, garlic cloves, salt, and pepper. Whisk with a fork to blend. Add the cod to the baking dish and turn several times to coat. Let it stand for 15 minutes.

In the work bowl of a food processor, add the lemon zest and the juice from the other lemon half. Add the basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper. Process until finely chopped. While the machine is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Process until thoroughly combined.

Place about 2 tablespoons of pesto on each fillet. Cover and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Serve with additional pesto and lemon wedges.

Store any unused pesto, covered, in the fridge for 3-4 days.

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