Mustard Parmesan Baked Cod with Balsamic Tomatoes and Onions over Couscous

Cod is one of the most reliably easy and fast fish to cook. That's why I've ended up eating it for the past two days. Yesterday, I was supposed to go out to dinner with my husband and his coworkers, but they got postponed, so I went home to eat alone instead of killing time in the rainy city. Unfortunately all my proteins were frozen, since I didn't plan on eating in. Luckily, a cod fillet can easily go from freezer to oven without getting too tough or dry. I simply ran it under cold water for a minute or two, seasoned it with salt, pepper, lemon and butter, and threw it into a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. One zucchini, sliced and boiled, and one pouch of frozen potatoes and beans microwaved, and dinner was done.

Today's cod was meant for the freezer stock, as well. But, seeing as my husband is again working late, I am left at the last moment to cook for myself. The groceries arrived early, but the only protein in the box was the replacement cod. Can one eat this much fish in a week? I've already had a bit of tuna sushi, and some smoked salmon... so I checked quickly the NRDC website to make sure cod is not super high in mercury. The site even has a little wallet cheat sheet and an online tool to check your mercury intake. Cod has only moderate levels, so I'll be fine.

Seeing as I had a beautiful, fresh, thick piece of fish today, I decided to put a little work into it. I probably thought about what to do for 20 minutes and the actual preparation only took about 15. But in the end, my little experiment came out of the oven and was more than I hoped for. The topping was cheesy. The sauce hidden below was creamy, tangy, spicy, sour and sharp - but mild enough not to overpower the fish. The surrounding tomatoes and onions were sweet, salty and tart, lending crunch and juiciness to whole wheat couscous. It was an unexpected kitchen victory. Not to mention, this fish is under 400 calories - and that is for the whole 8oz piece.

Mustard Parmesan Baked Cod with Balsamic Tomatoes and Onions
recipe for 1 large serving

1 6-8 oz Fillet of Cod, seasoned with salt and pepper

1 T Light Mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Mustard Powder
1 tsp fresh Lemon Juice

1 T Italian seasoned Bread Crumbs
1 T fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Dried Parsley flakes

10-15 grape tomatoes
1/4 C very thinly sliced Sweet or Vidalia Onion
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar

Preheat oven to 425F.

1. Rinse the fish and place in a glass baking dish coated with non-stick spray. Season with salt & pepper.

2. Prepare the sauce by mixing together mayo, lemon juice and mustard powder. Slather the sauce onto the fillet (photo top left).

3. Sprinkle paprika and cayenne over sauce, to taste (see photo top right).

4. Top with bread crumbs, cheese and a sprinkle of parsley.

5. Surround fish with grape tomatoes and onions. It's important to slice the onions thin, since the cooking time is short for the tomatoes and fish - you wan them to be browned. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, a tiny bit of balsamic, and salt.

6. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes, until fish flakes with a fork, or begins to separate, and onions look caramelized. Baking more servings may require a longer cooking time.

7. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over the fish, and serve with couscous or rice topped with the tomatoes and onions.

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