Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fresh Summer Vegetable Cod Pockets (Mess-Free and Full of Flavor)

Look mom, no clean up!  Don't you just love recipes that involve little clean-up?   Yes, there is cod under there.  I promise.  It's hard to see under all those fresh vegetables, but do some digging and you'll find it.

Speaking of vegetables, do you like them?  The other day I did an experiment in my weight loss support group; we counted the number of taste buds we have to see if we are "tolerant tasters", "tasters", or "hypertasters".  Imagine a bell curve, with "tasters" being in the middle (meaning a majority of us are tasters") and "tolerant tasters" and "hypertasters" being at the opposite ends.  According to the book I'm reading, "Taste What You're Missing", "hypertasters" are like really ticklish kids, and their taste buds get excited very easily.  With that in mind, they often have very strong likes and dislikes, and many "hypertasters" really hate vegetables because they taste extra bitter.  Get the book, it's fascinating (you'll learn there is really much more to the story than taste buds).  By the way, I found out I was a "tolerant taster", meaning I had very few taste buds.  It makes sense now why I love EXTRA bitter dark chocolate and hoppy IPA, I'm just not as sensitive to the bitterness so it takes more bitterness to excite me (keep in mind, having few taste buds doesn't mean you don't taste well.  In fact, the author of the book is a professional food taster/tester and she is also a "tolerant taster").  So, I'm a tolerant taster, plus I grew up in a household that was filled with lots of veggies (and good beer, actually) so I have always loved them.  In fact, I often crave vegetables. Strange?

Cod Pockets with LOTS O' VEGGIES!

Serves: 4

4 fresh, not frozen, cod fillets (~4 ounces each)
4 loosely packed cups of fresh baby spinach
Choose from the following list of vegetables (in all you will want ~1/2-3/4 cup of vegetables, in addition to the spinach, per packet)

  • Sliced red, yellow or orange bell peppers
  • Sliced shitake or crimini mushrooms **
  • Thinly sliced zucchini or summer squash
  • Fresh corn kernels **
  • Thinly sliced fennel bulb 
~2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil, divided among four fillets (or 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter)
1 tsp. sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish and extra flavor (or use the fennel greens)


1.  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut four large pieces of foil (pieces should be at least about 12 inches x 12 inches long).  Lay on a clean workspace.  Have ready a rimmed cookie sheet.

2.  Lay down spinach on the bottom of each piece of foil.  Drizzle each mound of spinach lightly with ~1/4 Tbsp. olive oil (or add ~1/4 Tbsp butter, solid) and sprinkle with ~1/8 tsp. salt.  Lay a fillet on top of spinach.

3.  Add remainder of the vegetables, preferably finishing with the colorful vegetable such as red pepper slices.  On top, drizzle with the remaining olive oil (or solid butter), salt, and pepper (NOTE: You can add more or less olive oil, salt and pepper if you desire, but I tried to keep this light and lower in sodium).

4.  Begin sealing the foil by folding or rolling the edges toward the center until you are left with a hole that is about 3 inches in diameter.  Do this with all four foil packets.  Bake all together for ~25 minutes, or until vegetables are done and fish is 145 degrees F.

5.  Before removing from the oven, have ready warm shallow bowls.  Carefully open the packets, being cautious of the rising steam.  Gently slide the contents of the foil into bowls, including all juices.  Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and fresh cilantro, parsley, or fennel greens (or all!)

**NOTE:  If you are following a low FODMAPS diet limit the amount of corn and mushrooms, or just use fennel, bell peppers, and zucchini.  The mushrooms contain polyols, and the corn (especially yellow corn in amounts above 1/2 cup) contain polyols and oligosaccharides.

Estimated Nutrition Facts for one pocket
** I used mushroom, fennel, red pepper and zucchini **

Nutrition Highlights:  Excellent source of vitamins A and C.  Also, ~360 mg EPA/DHA. Not bad.

I just made two fillets the first time I did this recipe, which is an option.  

They smelled delicious when I opened the foil.  Quite honestly I could have simply had this with just red pepper and fennel.  If you've never tried fennel, you must.  For the longest time I thought fennel would taste like black licorice (because it smells like black licorice) so I never tried it (I hate black licorice).  I'm so glad I was forced to try it one day at work, because it's really amazing, and very low in calories.

I actually ate this out of a bowl, but didn't take a photo.  Have you ever been so excited to eat something that you forget to take one last photo of it?!   Come on, you've been there, done that. Admit it.

If you like the idea of Cod Pockets you might also like this Magic Foil Salmon from last year.

QUESTION:  Have you ever counted your taste buds?  Try the experiment at home (and use those sticky reinforcements you can find in school supply aisles instead of punching your own hole in a piece of paper).  For more fun experiments, read Barb Stuckey's book.

Thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd


  1. I love cooking in packets - so little clean-up! I'm book marking this recipe because I want to try it with a group. What a great idea. I've never tested myself, but I suspect that I'm a tolerant taster, while Peter is a super taster!

    I often forget to take one last photo because I'm too excited to taste the meal (or Peter's like "hurry up! I'm hungry!" ;)

  2. Yum, these sound delicious and I fully plan to make them next week! I actually love vegetables but unfortunately my stomach does not always feel the same way, but too bad for it because I eat them anyways. I'd be curious what kind of taster I am haha, I would guess I have a sensitive taste but I think I'm just used to veggies because like you I kind of grew up eating them. There are certainly some veggies I don't like, including lettuce which is why I'm really not a salad person.
    How well did the veggies get cooked in this meal? Thats another problem with my stomach, it prefers cooked veggies and sometimes I prefer the taste of raw veggies, though no raw mushrooms haha.

    1. Hey Kelly! The book talks about how supertasters (ie: very sensitive tasters) can love veggies especially when they've grown up eating them. So, you could be right.
      I cooked the veggies "al dente" in this recipes. They could have stayed in longer, but I like mine (especially the fennel) sort of harder and more on the raw side. You could leave them in longer, or even nuke them in the microwave if the cod is finished but your veggies aren't.