Pancetta wrapped cod loins with tomato and asparagus orzo

When the sun comes out, it’s time to get outdoors and enjoy a colourful meal before the clouds threaten again. In the UK we are about to see the end of this year’s asparagus season (boo!) so this is a perfect way of enjoying it before it goes. Orzo is rice grain shaped pasta which is great for cooking in risotto style as it is here as well as using for pasta bakes and salads. Unlike classic risotto, the stock can be added all in one go rather than one ladleful at a time. Next time you cook this try playing around with combinations such as cherry tomato, chorizo and red pepper which are equally as delicious.

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Ingredients- serves 2
Glug of olive oil
1 red onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped
50ml white wine
200g orzo
150g cherry tomatoes- halved
100g asparagus- chopped
300ml vegetable stock
Slices of pancetta
2 cod loins
1/2 tsp paprika

1. Add a glug of olive oil to a large pan that is large enough to hold the orzo. Gently cook the onion and garlic together until softening but not so they are turning golden. Pour in the white wine and simmer until it is reduced by half.

2. Stir in the orzo until it is well coated in the onion mixture. Pop the halved tomatoes and chopped asparagus into the pan. Add the stock little by little until the orzo starts to turn tender and the tomatoes will break down to form a light sauce. If you are using fine asparagus then you may like to add this in slightly later in the cooking of the orzo. You are aiming for the asparagus to retain a little crunch to add texture.

3. Meanwhile, you can prepare the cod. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Depending on how big the cod loins are and the size of the pancetta slices, lay -pancetta slices on a chopping board so they slightly overlap and are the length of the cod loin. Season the cod well with salt, pepper and paprika and wrap one of the cod pieces in it; repeat for the other loin. Take a small frying pan and add a small splash of oil, heating it to medium. Place the wrapped loins seal side down into the pan and fry for a couple of minutes. If the pan you are using is ovenproof then pop the cod straight into the oven for around 10-12 minutes until the cod is cooked. If it is not ovenproof then use a baking sheet to cook the cod on instead. When the pancetta is cooked and crisped it is ready to serve on top of the orzo. Serve immediately.

Pancetta wrapped cod loin with tomato and asparagus orzo- a colourful dish to cheer up anyone’s day!

 

Fragrant Asian salmon parcels

The idea of cooking ‘en papilotte’ (‘in parchment’) is quick and simple and keeps all the flavours locked in. Here delicate salmon is balanced with the aromatic flavours of Asia to bring a simple yet tasty meal. Monkfish or cod loin would also be perfect for this recipe if you prefer. I am a big fan of all Asian greens so I have used pak choi to layer the salmon on top of so it steams altogether.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 spring onions- finely sliced on the diagonal
1 large garlic clove- crushed
1 2cm piece of fresh ginger- cut into thin strips
1 medium red chilli- deseeded and chopped
Juice of half a fresh lime
2 tbsp each of dark soy
1 tbsp rice wine
2 small heads of pak choi- shredded
2 salmon fillets

1. Start by preheating the oven to 190c/ 170fan. Take all the ingredients apart from the salmon and spring onions and combine in a small bowl; mix well and set aside.

2. Grab a couple of lengths of foil which will be big enough for the fish to sit happily in and lay them out on the work surface. Lightly oil each piece. Divide the pak choi and spring onions slices between the two pieces of foil and place them in the centre. Place the salmon atop its leafy, oniony bed and pour the dressing over the fish. Add a splash of water into each parcel so it steams well before gathering the foil together to create a well sealed parcel.

3. Place on a baking tray and cook for around 12 minutes until the fish is tender. Remove carefully and serve with a side dish of jasmine rice.

Salmon parcels- the key to delightfully fragrant and straightforward midweek meal!