Casseroles like this one don’t take long to cook, and they can be put together the day before and baked or warmed up at the end of a long day. I know, you can buy pre-made pesto in the store. But fresh pesto is super simple and worth the few extra steps for freshness and quality.
If you’re feeling fancy, you can serve caprese sticks as an appetiser!
Serves: 4 people
For the pesto:
1/4 cup pine nuts
5 medium cloves garlic, with peels
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, rinsed thoroughly
2 tbsp. fresh parsley leaves (optional)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch table salt
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz Dry rotini pasta
1 jar Roasted sweet red bell peppers – (7 oz) – drained
1 bunch broccoli, broken into florets
5 ounces fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped, about 5 cups
2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces Asiago cheese, grated
1 cup Grated mozzarella cheese
6 tablespoons Grated Parmesan cheese
1 can Sliced ripe olives – (2 1/4 oz) – drained
3/4 lb cod fillets
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- To make the pesto:
- Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, just until golden and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes.
- Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the unpeeled garlic to the empty skillet and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and the color of the cloves deepens slightly, about 7 minutes.
- Let cool, then peel and transfer to the food processor.
- Place the basil and parsley (if using) in a heavy-duty, quart-size ziploc bag. Roll over with a rolling pin until all of the leaves are bruised.
- Process the pine nuts and garlic until finely chopped.
- Add all remaining pesto ingredients except the Parmesan; process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary.
- Transfer the mixture to a small bowl, stir in the cheese, and adjust the salt as needed.
- Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pan. Stir in the pasta and 1 teaspoon salt, if desired. Boil uncovered until the pasta is tender, 8 to 10 minutes; drain well. Two minutes before you drain pasta, add broccoli.
- While the pasta is cooking, in a large bowl toss together the chopped spinach, shallots, and garlic. Toss with the Asiago cheese
- Slice the peppers into thin strips and stir them into the pasta along with 3/4 of the pesto, spinach mixture, mozzarella, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan, olives and capers.
- Spray the bottom and sides of a 2- to 2 1/2-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon the pasta mixture into the casserole.
- Rinse the cod fillets and pat dry. Layer the fish evenly over the pasta and drizzle with the lemon juice; sprinkle lemon zest onto fish as well.
- Spoon the remaining pesto over the fish and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
- Cover and bake 30 to 35 minutes, until the fish is nearly opaque in the center.
- Uncover and bake until the cheese is golden, 5 to 10 minutes longer.
- Cut into servings and carefully lift each out with a wide spatula.
Seafood Alternatives: orange roughy, tilapia, snapper, sole or flounder fillets
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