Pecans dress up cod and dessert-like salad for the holidays

Wheat Berry Salad With Oranges, Cherries and Pecans. This salad is both sweet and savory.
(Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey)
Story by The Washington Post
(The Washington Post)
Wed, Dec 5, 2012
Share this

Southerners love pecans, and these two recipes are Southern favorites.

The pecan-crusted fish is a Southern classic. The nuts are a bit sweet, and they give the fish a great texture. Serve plain or with the optional Mustard Sauce.

The salad dates to the middle of the 20th century. It was very popular in Southern tearooms, at ladies’ lunches and for church suppers because it was a refreshing cross between a dessert and a salad, and handy for making in advance.

Pecan-Crusted Cod With Rosemary

The pecan crust mixture can be made several hours in advance and held at cool room temperature, or made up to 1 month in advance, sealed in an airtight container and frozen. The Mustard Sauce can be made a day in advance, covered and refrigerated; reheat gently to warm, adding a little water if needed to thin and recombine it. You’ll have leftover pecan crust, so you could easily increase the number of fillets if you need to.

For the cod:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium Vidalia onion, or other sweet onion, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, plus a pinch
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus a pinch
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 7 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves
  • 4 to 6 cod fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each

For the mustard sauce:

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 2 tablespoons stone-ground or coarse-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper

For the cod: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a baking dish large enough to hold all of the fillets in one layer, and a rack that fits into the baking dish.

Heat the olive oil in a small skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper and cook for 5 or 6 minutes, until they soften, stirring frequently so they don’t color or stick. Add the mustard, stir to coat the onions and remove from the heat.

Place the pecans and bread crumbs in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for 15 seconds or until they form a fine meal. Add the butter, the onion-mustard mixture, rosemary, Old Bay, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Pulse for 15 to 20 seconds, until the mixture has a soft, pebbly texture.

Blot the fish with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Season on both sides with the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Use your hands to top the fish with a thick layer of the pecan mixture, about 2 tablespoons for each fillet. (You want to pat it on as if you were making a sand castle.) Lay the fillets on the rack and place the rack in the baking dish. Bake for about 12 minutes, until there’s some bounce-back to the touch and a fork or knife will go in easily and will feel warm when inserted in the center; or until the temperature at the center measures 115 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (The baking time could be shorter or longer, depending on the thickness of your fillets. Serve immediately, accompanied with Mustard Sauce, if desired.

For the Mustard Sauce: Stir the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl to combine.

Heat the broth in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once it boils, give the cornstarch mixture a good stir. Begin to whisk the broth as you drizzle in the cornstarch mixture. Once you have added all of the cornstarch mixture, reduce the heat to low and continue whisking to achieve a smooth mixture. Cook for about 2 minutes, adjusting the heat so the mixture is barely bubbling, until the liquid thickens.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the mustards and honey, whisking to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm. 4 to 6 servings.

Per serving (based on 6, using half the pecan crust): 320 calories, 23 grams protein, 7 grams carbohydrates, 23 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 65 milligrams cholesterol, 580 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 0 grams sugar

— “American Flavor” by Andrew Carmellini (Ecco, 2011).

Frozen Fruit Salad

This salad has been updated, using dried cherries rather than maraschinos.

  • One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 20 ounces canned crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 ripe but firm banana, cut crosswise into rounds
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates or dried figs
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (no pith)
  • Lettuce leaves, for serving

Line an 8-inch square pan with plastic wrap.

Use a hand-held mixer to beat the cream cheese and syrup in a medium bowl until well-blended and fluffy.

Whip the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held mixer until soft peaks form. Add to the cream cheese mixture and fold to thoroughly combine. Gently fold in the fruits, pecans and lemon zest.

Spoon the mixture into the lined pan. Cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze for at least 8 hours or until firm.

To serve, line individual plates with lettuce leaves. Unwrap the frozen salad, cut into portions and place them on the leaves. 12 to 16 servings.

Per serving (based on 16): 200 calories, 2 grams protein, 20 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 35 milligrams cholesterol, 50 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 16 grams sugar

— Adapted from “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking,” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart (Gibbs Smith, 2012)

Food, Pecans, recipes
blog comments powered by Disqus