3 one-pan pescatarian recipes for when you need mid-week dinner inspiration

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Pescatarianism – a mostly vegetarian diet that also features seafood – can be a great way of cutting back on your meat consumption. Dip your toe into the water with these tasty one-pan recipes, and let the oven do the hard work…

Making long-term dietary changes for the benefit of the planet is a lot easier said than done. Honourable though your intentions may be, it can be challenging to cut down on dairy, reduce your red meat intake or eat local produce as much as possible.

Want to eat in a more sustainable way, but lack the impetus to embrace a fully vegetarian or vegan diet? Going pescatarian could be the way forward. Essentially a vegetarian diet that also includes fish and seafood, pescatarianism may help you wean yourself off eating too much beef and lamb – the farming of which has a particularly harmful effect on the environment, according to a major 2019 study by 107 scientists for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

However, if you want your pescatarian diet to be eco-friendly, it’s not enough to simply swap red meat for white fish. Pay attention to what kind of seafood you’re buying: to ensure yours is sustainably sourced, look for a blue label with a white tick, which shows it comes from a fishery approved by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). And avoid wild Atlantic salmon wherever possible, as stocks are currently severely depleted. Instead, the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide recommends looking for UK organic farmed salmon or fish from Scottish grade-one rivers. 

One Pan Pescatarian by Rachel Phipps, a new cookbook filled with delicious, meat-free meals, is proof that pescatarianism has plenty of potential. Using simple ingredients, Phipps shows that tasty and nutritious vegetarian, vegan and seafood-based meals can be whipped up in no time at all – enabling you to eat well and save time on washing up.  

Conversations about food and sustainability can be complex and divisive, and Phipps – who still occasionally eats meat, and doesn’t think she’ll ever give it up entirely – is candid about the fact that pescatarianism isn’t as good for the planet as going entirely vegan. However, she says she wrote One Pan Pescatarian for foodies who want to eat more sustainably and enjoy vegetarian and plant-based meals – but who “also love the taste of meat, poultry and game”.

Below, Phipps shares three weeknight-friendly meals that put fish to good use. First up: a tomato and braised bean stew with gremolata, which can be made with any chunky, white sustainable fish. Phipps’ cod with summer vegetables is a colourful, summery dish that captures the spirit of the south of France. And no meal comes lighter on prep than her Mediterranean salmon parcels, which can be wrapped individually in tin foil and left to do their own thing in the oven.

Time to put your seafood forward…

  • Tomato braised bean and white fish stew with gremolata recipe

    fish stew with beans

    Rachel says: “This is a lovely fresh stew that I make with cod but is nice with any chunky piece of white, sustainable fish you have available.

    I didn’t have any white wine on hand when I first made this so, with a nod to Nigella, I made it with white vermouth instead. It added a really unusual element to the tomato stew that I quite liked, but found rather polarising, so afterwards I reverted to using dry white wine. Try it if you want to enhance the sweetness of the tomatoes and the fish stock.”

    Serves 2

    Preparation time: 10 minutes

    Cooking time: 35 minutes

    Ingredients 

    • 1 small onion
    • 1 celery stick
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 large garlic clove
    • 75ml (5 tbsp) dry white wine
    • 400g tin cannellini beans
    • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
    • 150ml (2/3 cup) fresh fish stock
    • 2 chunky sustainable cod fillets
    • freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

    For the gremolata:

    • 1 large garlic clove
    • small handful of flat leaf parsley
    • zest of ½ lemon
    • small pinch of sea salt

    Method

    Peel and finely chop the onion and the celery stick.

    Heat the olive oil in a large, lidded shallow casserole dish over a medium heat and gently fry the onions and the celery for about 10 minutes until they are soft, but not browned. Peel and finely chop the garlic and add it to the pan, gently frying for a further minute until aromatic.

    Add the white wine to the pan and allow it to bubble gently while you drain the beans and add them to the pan with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Then add the tinned tomatoes, followed by the stock. Turn the heat up to high until it is bubbling, then reduce it to low to simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

    Make the gremolata by peeling and finely chopping the garlic, finely chopping the parsley and mixing them together in a small bowl along with the lemon zest and sea salt. Set aside.

    Nestle the two fish fillets between the beans and season the tops with salt and pepper. Place the lid on the pan and allow the fish to steam for 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through and you can flake it gently with a fork.

    Serve the bean stew in two warm bowls, each topped with a fish fillet, and the gremolata piled on top of the fish.

    Tip: As with any sort of tomato-based fish stew, you can’t go wrong serving this with a crusty loaf to mop up all the juices.

  • Black olive tapenade cod with summer vegetables recipe

    roasted cod recipe

    Rachel says: “This summery, colourful, one-pan cod dish is inspired by a rather more elegant one I had on holiday in the Dordogne. Served over a bed of fluffy polenta and a pile of roasted courgettes, my cod arrived with a black coat of tapenade, a jaunty sprig of rosemary sticking out the top, and a warm salsa-cum-sauce of fresh chopped tomatoes, slivers of tender garlic and yet more chopped black olives spooned over it all. 

    It was utterly delicious, but no one wants to go to that amount of effort on a weeknight, which is where my version comes in; switching the courgettes for hardy rainbow peppers, and the fussy polenta for lemon and garlic scented new potatoes.”

    Serves 2

    Preparation time: 10 minutes

    Cooking time: 45 minutes

    Ingredients

    For the black olive tapenade cod:

    • 2 thick sustainable cod fillets
    • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
    • zest and juice of ½ lemon
    • 1 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1–2 tbsp black olive tapenade
    • small handful of roughly chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
    • freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

    For the summer vegetables:

    • 300g new potatoes
    • 1 large red pepper
    • 1 large orange pepper
    • juice of ½ lemon
    • 1 large garlic clove
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 150g (¾ cup) cherry tomatoes

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Marinate the cod by placing the fillets in a plastic bag along with the garlic clove, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Tie a knot in the top of the bag and massage gently to make sure the fish is well coated. Set aside.

    Halve the potatoes and core and roughly chop the peppers into bite-sized pieces. Toss together with the lemon juice, garlic clove – peeled and crushed – olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper in a large casserole dish. Transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes.

    Toss the vegetables together so that they cook evenly, then add the tomatoes. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.

    Remove the cod from the marinade and lay over the top of the veggies. Spoon the tapenade over the top of each fillet, gently smoothing to the edges of each to create what will become a crust once removed from the oven.

    Bake the fish for a further 15 minutes before sprinkling with parsley. Serve still in the casserole dish.

  • Mediterranean salmon parcels recipe

    salmon parcels recipe

    Rachel says: “It sounds simple but a simple piece of salmon baked in tin foil is one of mine and my mum’s favourite dinners to enjoy together when I’m home. I’ve made this Mediterranean-inspired version a single serving because you do have to cook each portion individually, but feel free to scale it up to feed as many people as you like!

    I like this – as always – served with lots of crusty bread to mop up the cooking juices, but some brown rice would also work well.”

    Serves 1 or more

    Preparation time: 5 minutes

    Cooking time: 30 minutes

    Ingredients (per portion)

    • 100g (½ cup) cherry tomatoes
    • 1 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
    • 1 salmon fillet
    • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
    • ½ tsp Aleppo chilli flakes
    • freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Lay out one large piece of foil per portion of fish.

    Halve the cherry tomatoes, roughly chop the sun-dried tomatoes and place them in the middle of the foil. Lay the salmon fillet, skin side down, on top and drizzle with the olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper and sprinkle the top of the salmon with Aleppo chilli flakes.

    Gather the sides of the foil up around the salmon and the tomatoes to make a little boat, then fold and scrunch the foil at the top and at both ends to create a sealed packet. Try to leave as much room for the salmon to steam as possible while keeping it sealed. Transfer the parcels to a baking tray.

    Bake the salmon packet for about 30 minutes until the salmon is just cooked – it should be tender and flaky, but still slightly pink in the middle.

    One Pan Pescatarian: 100 Delicious Dinners - Veggie, Vegan, Fish by Rachel Phipps (£20, Hodder & Stoughton) is out now

Photography: © Haarala Hamilton © Hodder & Stoughton 2020

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.