Pan seared cod in a white wine tomato basil sauce makes for a healthy and quick Mediterranean style dinner with minimal prep. Flour and pan sear the cod, then make a sauce from sautéing garlic and shallot, adding in white wine, cherry tomatoes and some basil. It all comes together quickly for a delicious healthy meal.
This is a dish we have been making more and more lately when I crave a healthy Mediterranean style dinner, particularly a saucy tomato one. We typically have this with a salad and serve it over short grain brown rice for a little more heft.
Cooking Using Cod
Cod is a versatile, flaky, and mild tasting white fish. It works well in lots of dishes.
Choose 1-inch thick pieces. If you have thinner pieces, that’s totally fine too. Just reduce the cooking time to 1-2 minutes per side.
Cod can be tricky to pan sear. It cooks quickly and because its flaky it can start to fall apart easily. To help prevent that, flour the cod, then pan sear, which helps keep the fish together under the thin crust.
Sear by placing the side down that used to have the skin on it first. Wait until its brown and crispy (i.e. don’t touch it at all while you’re waiting), then flip. If the heat is high enough the fish will release from the pan on its own when it is ready if you're using stainless steel, rather than non-stick.
If using frozen cod, place the frozen cod in the fridge overnight to defrost. Do not cook from frozen. Ensure that the cod is completely defrosted before cooking. Otherwise it will cook unevenly and may be undercooked in the middle or overcooked on the outside.
White Wine Tomato Basil Sauce
White Wine: Select a dry white wine that you like to drink. I use a dry Portuguese wine because its not too expensive and I like how it tastes.
Tomatoes: This sauce is great with cherry tomatoes. They are sweeter and lighter tasting and go really well with white wine, basil, garlic and shallot. However, lots of tomatoes will work well in this sauce including roma, heirloom, grape, etc. Each type of tomato has a different level of sweetness and water content. So your sauce will turn out differently and taste differently depending on what you choose. Though all of the above tomato types are great for this type of sauce.
Basil: Basil always taste better when it's fresher. I find that smaller leaves are sweeter and less bitter. If you don't have fresh basil you can add 1 tsp of dried basil.
Here are a few variations on the Pan Seared Cod in a White Wine Tomato Basil Sauce that you may want to consider:
Cod Cooked in Tomato Sauce, Rather than Seared: Cook the cod directly in the tomato sauce. This saves you from flouring and searing the cod separately and reduces the overall cook time. Once the tomato sauce is complete add the uncooked cod to the pan and cover. Cook for about 8-10 minutes undisturbed.
Cod Cooked in Heirloom Tomato Sauce: Select 3-4 large bright or deep red heirloom tomatoes. Follow the steps in the recipe below (sauté garlic and shallot), reduce the white wine to ¼ cup, or skip it altogether. Cook the tomatoes, and mash with the back of a slotted spoon or spatula until you have a bright red sauce. Add the cod, cook covered for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through.
Salmon Cooked with Tomato Sauce: Serving salmon with tomato sauce seemed odd to me at first, but its amazing and now we make it all the time. When I’m craving something super healthy, salmon is often our go to. BUT, I also crave tomatoes and tomato sauce. Turns out, they are great together.
Pan sear and cook the salmon separately in a little bit of olive oil. Super simple. Then make a tomato sauce with 3-4 large heirloom tomatoes and some garlic and possibly some minced shallot. Cover. Mash the tomatoes gently as they break down. Add a little salt and basil. Drop the cooked salmon in and serve it over short grain brown rice. Short grain brown rice is a great substitute for serving the tomato sauce over pasta.
What to Serve with Pan Seared Cod in a White Wine Tomato Basil Sauce
Break up your dinner into two courses. Serve a simple green salad first, if you have the time and capacity. This can be as simple as some spinach, nuts, and cranberries.
Then make short grain brown rice to go with the main course. Choose short grain, rather than long grain. The short grain more closely mimics the feel of pasta and goes really well with this tomato sauce.
The brown rice completes the dish and ensures that it is filling so that you’re not left hungry right before bedtime.
If you're looking for other dinner recipes, you may love these:
Mediterranean Style Chicken: Large chicken pieces cooked in a white wine sauce with roma tomatoes, asparagus, and crispy bread crumbs.
Italian Gnocchi Stir Fry: Crispy gnocchi in a white wine butter sauce with sausage and lots of vegetables.
Chicken Cacciatore: Classic chicken cacciatore made with San Marzano tomatoes.
If you make this Pan Seared Cod in a White Wine Tomato Basil Sauce dish, I'd love to hear from you and learn how it went. Leave a rating and a comment down below and let me know how it turns out! Your feedback means a lot
Pan Seared Cod in a White Wine Tomato Basil Sauce
- 1-1½ lb cod, 1-inch thick pieces
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + extra as needed
- 1 tbsp butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1½ lbs cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 2 tbsp minced basil
- Rinse the cod and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut into large 3-5 inch length pieces, depending on how much room you have in your pan.
- Add the flour and salt to a shallow baking dish and stir to combine. Coat the cod pieces in the flour.
- Bring a large sauté pan to medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter and allow to heat through. Once the pan and the oil/butter are hot, add the cod to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes undisturbed until brown and crispy. Carefully flip over, and cook for another 3-4 minutes.Do not over crowd the pan. Cook in batches if necessary. Crowding the pan will lead to steamed cod, rather than pan seared crispy cod.
- Remove and set aside on a cookie/drying rack. This will keep both sides crispy.
- Reduce the heat slightly (4 on a scale of 10). Add another tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic. Sauté for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the shallot and sauté, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes. Add the white wine and allow to simmer and cook off for about 5 minutes.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and toss to coat. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until the tomatoes soften and begin to release their juices. Add the basil and stir.
- Add the cod back to the pan and allow to warm through for 1 minute. Or serve the cod and the sauce separately.