What better way to get rid of blue Monday, than to cook yourself some lovely pasta with a homemade pesto and some fresh cod, cooked in a slightly spicy sauce! I always make pesto myself, but I usually go for the standard garlic-basil pesto made with pinenuts, but today I wanted to make something with walnuts and a fruit that very often gets underestimated and isn’t very popular in general: aubergine or eggplants. I decided to grill the aubergine to give them a lovely flavour, but you can of course go for the oven or even grill them in a pan instead. As long as you end up with lovely golden-brown aubergine the flavour will be fantastic.
For the fish I went to my local fish monger, to make sure I was buying cod that was caught by an Irish local fisherman, as it’s really important to avoid getting fish caught by foreign supertrawlers as they are destroying our local waters, which I was in the dark about until I saw the documentary Atlantic. If you want to keep up to date on some of the issues that our waters are facing, you can keep an eye on their Facebook page as well. Not only will you support locals by going to a fishmonger, the quality of the fish simply can’t be beaten as those fish are caught on the day itself.
I wanted to give this fish a bit of a kick so I gave it a nice drizzle of lemon juice and some spicy dried chili along with a generous amount of pepper and salt. To finish it off I added some spring onion, which gives it a lovely smell and taste at the same time.
Serves: 4 people
- 2 aubergines
- handful of baby spinach leaves
- 20g fresh basil leaves (and stems)
- 100g walnutes
- 100ml olive oil + extra for the fish
- 4 cod fillets, around 150-200g each
- 1 tablespoon of dried chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- pepper & salt
- 2 spring onions
- 500g pappardelle*
Optional: Parmesan or Grana Padano*
* Both can be replaced by dairy-free or gluten-free alternatives, quantities and cooking techniques remain the same
Preheat your grill/oven to 200°C. Wash then slice up the aubergine in slices of about 0,5cm thick. Brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle pepper and salt on top. Place on tin foil in your grill or oven and grill until soft and golden brown, which will take about 20-30 minutes. Make sure to flip them over halfway through. Meanwhile place the walnuts on a tin in the oven at 180°C for 10 minutes as well.
Once they are grilled, set aside and let cool down a bit. Meanwhile you can prepare your fish and boil your pasta! For the fish: place each fish fillet on a separate sheet of tin foil, big enough to turn into a parcel around the fish. Drizzle just a small dash of olive oil and half a tablespoon of lemon juice on top of each fillet, 1/4th of a tablespoon of dried chili flakes and season generously with pepper and salt. Slice up the spring onion and divide over the fish. Place in the oven at 200°C and cook for 15-20 minutes. With the fish now in the oven, you can follow the instructions on the pappardelle package to cook the pasta.
Once the pasta and fish are done, add walnuts, basil, olive oil and spinach leaves to a blender along with the cooled down aubergine. Blitz until you have a thick pesto.
Drain the pappardelle but keep some of the water. Add pesto to pappardelle along with the water and stir until the pesto sticks to the pasta. Serve with some fresh basil and some parmesan or grana padano.