I love the “Hometown” #SundaySupper theme! I’m pretty passionate about things related to my hometown of Boston and the New England region. Though the Red Sox are the team I follow most closely, today I will be eagerly cheering for a return trip to the SuperBowl for the Patriots. I was going to call this dish “Boston Beans and Cod” but decided to call it New England Beans and Cod to support our local football squad!
The other thing I like about today’s theme is the way it got my creative juices flowing. I wanted to take some elements of some classic local food and combine them in some new way.
Food from Boston? “Boston Baked Beans” might be the first thing that comes to mind, especially if you’re looking for something with Boston in the name. Molasses is a key ingredient in the traditional version of the dish, as it used to be produced here in significant quantities. Speaking of significant quantities of molasses, have you heard of the Great Boston Molasses Flood? A storage tank burst in 1919, claiming the lives of 21 people. That may be a distant bit of history, but we’ve had more recent experience in Boston with bouncing back from tragedy.
The molasses in Boston Baked beans may have been the key ingredient back in the day, but today seafood is probably the food we are most known for in New England. The local economy used to be very tied to the sea, including the fishing industry. Unfortunately, many species of fish have really dwindled, and hard times have come for the fishing fleet.
I thought I’d feature cod in my dish, as one of my favorite places–Cape Cod–takes it’s name from the fish. Alas, not much cod to be caught here these days, and the cod we served was caught around the coast of Iceland. This is a locally inspired, not sourced, recipe I’m afraid!
I like to take elements of something traditional and do something new. So I simmered the cod in a garlicky tomato sauce, along with the navy beans which are the type used for Boston Baked Beans. The flavors of this dish are probably more Italian than New England. You can certainly enjoy some great Italian seafood dishes in Boston’s North End, around the spot of the molasses disaster, in fact.
I was struggling to decide what to serve with this dish. Mashed potatoes crossed my mind, as a nod to our city’s strong Irish heritage. But seeing as I was going with the new twists on the classic, I decided to serve the beans and cod over basmati rice. I don’t think I had basmati as a kid, but now we have a big Indian population in the area, a great boon to Indian food fans like me! So basmati rice it is with this dish. For good measure, I also served some green beans on the side.
This dish is quick, easy and healthy, and pretty tasty, too! I made it with canned tomatoes, but certainly if you have good fresh tomatoes on hand, use them.
Wine pairing: I tend to think of a red wine with good acidity when serving a dish featuring tomatoes, but thought a white might be better with the light fish. I went with a white Bordeaux, predominantly Sauvignon Blanc with some Semillon in the mix, and was quite pleased with the result!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ of a red bell pepper, diced
- 5 cloves garlic
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 cups diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or molasses
- 1.5 lbs cod fillet, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 14.5 oz can navy beans, drained and rinsed
- 6 to 8 olives, sliced
- tbsp lemon juice
- feta cheese to serve at table
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the red bell pepper, sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for another minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar or molasses, red pepper flakes, rosemary and oregano. Salt and white pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, reducing the tomatoes a bit.
- Stir in the navy beans and olives. Then gently place the cod into the pan. You are likely to have a few pieces of fish, spread it around the pan. Scoop some tomatoes over the cod so that it get the flavor on both sides.
- Simmer the cod, turning over once, until it has just cooked through. This takes about 12 minutes. Sprinkle in the lemon after the cod is cooked.
- Serve the beans and cod over rice or mashed potatoes...or maybe polenta. Pass feta cheese at the table for an additional topping.
Be sure to check out these tasty recipes from the rest of the #SundaySupper crew!