Soothe the Soul Italian Style: Fresh Cod in a Zucchini Crust

Cod in a Zucchini Crust |

Over here at Our Italian Table, we are not much for the standard January trends that fill our inboxes each morning – detoxes and dry Januarys and restricting life even further. (Lordy, we have had enough of the restrictions already!) I saw a quote recently on Facebook that was attributed to M.K. Fisher that read ‘When shall we live if not now?’ (I wrote that puppy right up on my mirror in the only bright red lipstick that I own!) Instead, we want the start to this beautiful new year to be about finding the beauty in the simple pleasures; fostering conversations and connections; and enjoying healthy food and drink that simply nurture our soul. (More about all this in our upcoming newsletter – stay tuned! 😉) And this super simple yet beautiful and nurturing fresh cod recipe fit the bill. ❤️

I first had this dish last fall on the magical island of Giglio at one of my favorite restaurants, Da Maria and with a few tips from the waiter, have been making it almost nonstop since. It is so simple yet so healthy and delicious; takes so little time yet so impresses those around your table. A winner across the board.

I have used cod fillets here but feel free to substitute your favorite firm white fish, such as halibut. To create the ‘scales’ for the fish, you simply slice your zucchini paper thin. I much prefer to not post recipes that require any special equipment but in this case an inexpensive mandoline really does make slicing the zucchini into super thin slices a much easier task. You can, of course, practice those knife skills without one.

Prepping the fish |

The waiter’s awesome tip was that they sprinkle the top with cornmeal (rather than flour to keep it gluten free) to add a tiny bit of crunch (works like a charm!). My contribution to this genius fish recipe was a blood orange relish that adds brightness during these chilly winter months and is a nice contrast to the buttery cod. Its sparkle makes me smile 😊. Sub in clementines or other oranges if you cannot find blood oranges. You can, of course, skip it entirely but why would you? Look how happy those little oranges look on the plate and segmenting the orange is fun.

Blood Oranges |

I have served the fish over mashed potatoes and also over chickpea or parsnip puree – they all provide a nice contrast to the fish as well and makes for a more hearty meal. And most importantly – serve with a sunny smile on your face! ☀️

Wishing everyone the happiest of new years….more from us next week in our January newsletter! Until then, much love and …



Michele ❤️

Cod in a Zucchini Crust
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Cod in a Zucchini Crust |

Fresh Cod in a Zucchini Crust

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This super easy and healthy fish recipe will lift your spirits and impress your guests with lots of time to enjoy your guests!



For the blood orange relish:

  • 4 oranges, preferably blood orange or a mix of different types 
  • A few sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the fish:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Approximately 1 ½ pounds fresh cod, cut into 4 fillets (can substitute other firm white fish such as halibut)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • Cornmeal
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Prepare the orange relish:

•Cut about ½ inch off the ends of the oranges to create flat surfaces at each end. Set one end on a cutting board or work surface and using a sharp paring knife, slice along the curve of the orange down the sides of the orange to remove the peel and pith.  Trim away any white pith that may remain. 

•Working over a bowl, slice into the orange lengthwise along one of the membranes all the way to the core. Repeat on the other side of the segment to release the segment from the membrane. Allow the segment and any juice to fall into the bowl. Remove any seeds. Repeat for each segment and orange.

•Add about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar. Sprinkle, to taste, with salt and a few grinds of fresh ground pepper. Stir to combine. Set aside to allow the flavors to come together while you prepare the fish.

For the fish:

•Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  

•Line a 13×18 baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle the paper with olive oil. Place the cod fillets on the parchment, leaving space between each fillet for the zucchini crust. Season generously with salt and pepper.

•Using a mandoline, slice the zucchini crosswise into paper thin slices. Arrange the slices over the fillets to look like scales (see photos). Season the zucchini with salt and pepper. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle the top with cornmeal. 

•Place in the oven and cook until the fillets are cooked through and the zucchini ‘scales’ start to crisp, about 25-30 minutes, depending on the size of the fillets.  

•Remove from oven. Plate each fillet alongside a few spoonfuls of the orange relish. Drizzle the plate with some extra virgin olive oil, garnish with thyme sprigs and serve!

Join the Conversation

  1. Love the look of this recipe! Can’t wait to make it. Do you tuck the zuchinni under the fish? I’m worried that might cause a mess.

    1. Michele Author says:

      Hi Bob – Not under for the reason you state! Layer just on the top….let us know how it comes out! Michele

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