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8 & $20: Cod with Mixed Summer Squash Sauté

This healthy one-pan meal of fish and veggies cozies up with a light, citrusy white
Photo by: Greg Hudson
This dish's mild flavors call for a fresh white wine to support and accentuate the different elements.

Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Posted: September 13, 2016

Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.

I have been so inspired by the beautiful array of squash I’ve been finding at the market over the summer. I like to pick out a bunch of different varieties in whatever shapes, colors and patterns catch my fancy, bring them home and cook them all together.

The key to using different varieties is to cut the pieces to as uniform a thickness as possible. I personally prefer a firmer texture for my squash, so I cut zucchini and other long squash into thick matchsticks, removing part of the spongy interior. This keeps the size of the pieces in line with wedges cut from pattypan squash. Lightly tossed with olive oil, some seasonings and a little Parmesan, these squash make a lovely, no-fuss side dish for a wide range of proteins, including chicken and pork. You can also prep the squash in the same way, but roast them in the oven for an equally delicious version.

That said, I like this best on a weeknight as a one-pan meal. The squash comes together quickly in the pan and, when served with a mild, flaky fish like cod, you have an elegant, stress-free supper.

The flavors in this dish are generally delicate, so I wanted a light, fresh white to pair with it. Since cod is a staple of Spanish and Italian regional cuisines, I decided to look to that part of the world for my wine options. I found a white blend of Doña Blanca and Godello from the Bierzo region of Spain and a Falanghina from Irpinia in Campania, Italy.

My husband and I sat down to an early dinner and sipped these two wines alongside our meal. The Bierzo had ripe peach notes, with hints of minerality and spice. The Falanghina had lots of zesty citrus and salty minerality, with floral and herbal touches. Both worked really well, each bringing out different elements in our food.

My husband ultimately preferred the Bierzo white, made by Viños Guerra, because it accentuated the nutty quality in the Parmesan cheese. On the other hand, I liked the way the Falanghina’s herbal notes spoke to the oregano, while the wine's bright citrus elements and salinity enhanced the seafood, making it a perfect quaff for this light meal.

Cod With Mixed Summer Squash Sauté

Pair with a white such as Terredora di Paolo Falanghina Irpinia 2014 (86 points, $18)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
Approximate food costs: $27

  • 2 tablespoons pignoli (pine nuts)
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced (approximately 1 cup)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3–4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5–6 cups mixed summer squash (for example, 4 yellow pattypan squash and 2 large green zucchini), sliced into wedges and/or matchsticks
  • 1 lemon, juiced, plus 1 lemon cut into wedges for optional garnish
  • 3–4 tablespoons Parmesan, grated or shredded, plus additional shaved strips for optional garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped oregano
  • 1–1.15 pounds of cod, cut into 4 portions
  • Flour, for dredging

1. Toast the pignoli in a large, dry pan over medium to medium-high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes, tossing often, until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer to a separate dish and set aside.

2. In the same pan, sweat onions over medium to medium-high heat in a small amount of olive oil with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. After 5 to 6 minutes, add the minced garlic and sweat for another minute or 2.

3. Once the onions are nearly translucent, add the squash in a single layer, along with the lemon juice, and continue to sauté until the squash is tender-crisp—about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and toss the vegetable mixture with Parmesan cheese, the majority of the oregano (saving some for garnish) and the reserved pignoli. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the squash mixture to a bowl and cover to keep warm.

4. While the squash is cooking, dredge the cod portions in a small amount of flour and season with salt and pepper. Once the squash has been transferred to a bowl, wipe out the pan, return it to the stove and heat a generous amount of olive oil on medium-high. When the oil is shimmering, add the fish to the pan. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side, turning gently as the fish can be quite delicate, or until the fish is cooked through and no longer translucent.

5. Serve each fish filet over a bed of the sautéed squash. Garnish with additional oregano, shaved Parmesan and extra lemon wedges, if desired. Serves 4

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