Food / Main Dishes / Pescetarian

Pan-Seared Cod in Herb and Garlic Butter Sauce With Pesto Pasta


Find a 15% off promo code and giveaway at the end of this post!

Oh my cod.

Can we get that hashtag trending, please? #OhMyCod!

These are basically the words that escaped my mouth upon digging into this refreshing summer-inspired bowlful.

When we think of seafood pasta, we think of sweet scallops and clam shells nestled into a saucy nest of noodles; we think of plump shrimp being speared and twirled with pasta at the mercy of a fork and spoon; rarely, if ever, do we think about a fillet of fish being flaked across our spaghetti.

Until now.

This tender wild-caught Pacific cod is pan-seared to perfection in a lip-smacking herb and garlic butter sauce, then served over a pile of creamy pesto pasta, and it’s totally off the hook.

Taking advantage of this summer’s harvest

Despite the fact that summer is only really half over, once August rolls around, it feels like the end is near.

Why oh why does summer flee us so quickly?

Before we know it, armies of pumpkin and butternut squash will be taking over every market one by one for what’ll seem like an eternity — which is exactly why we need to make the most out of our summer produce right now.

Though the asparagus, plump cherry tomatoes, sweet peas, and crisp zucchini play a large part in this seasonal pasta, the real cape-clad hero is the the glorious fillet of wild-caught Pacific cod from Orca Bay Seafoods that sits on top.

Orca Bay’s Wild-Caught Alaskan Cod gets a garlicky and herbaceous butter bath alongside some crisp asparagus.

Wild-Caught Alaskan Cod is the *real* mvp!

A good quality cod is the perfect gateway fish. It’s meaty, light, mild in flavor, and it’ll likely convert any fish skeptic into a fillet lovin’ fiend! So if you’re trying to bring more fish into your diet and don’t know where to start, or if you’re trying to sway a naysayer, cod is the answer.

But know where it comes from.

Cod is a familiar name, but that doesn’t mean it’s a guaranteed sustainable option. Knowing where and how it was fished, or purchasing your cod from a reliable source like Orca Bay Seafoods, is MEGA important. Not only will you get the best fillets with the best flavors, but you’ll also be taking part in keeping our oceans and its dwellers happy and healthy <3

Things to consider when shopping cod

Best Choice: Pacific cod caught in Alaska is a total win. It’s a “Best Choice” because the population is healthy and there aren’t any major concerns with bycatch or with the effectiveness of management. This is the kind of cod you get with Orca Bay.

Good Alternative: Pacific cod caught in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, Canada, with bottom trawls is a “Good Alternative”. There are, however, some concerns about other species being caught along with Pacific cod as well as the impacts on sensitive habitat.

Avoid: Japan and Russia = red flags everywhere, and this is why they’re on the “Avoid” list. In Japan, overfishing is presumably happening in most regions and, sadly, management is ineffective. In Russia, information about the populations’ status, bycatch of other species, habitat impacts, and management is extremely limited or unknown.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t! You can shop with confidence knowing that Orca Bay is guaranteed to put the “Best Choice” on your plate. And, if you buy from their online store, you can save 15% on your purchase by using the promo code “KillingThyme2017” at check out :)

Not sure if Orca Bay Seafoods, Inc. is available near you? Find out here, or shop their online store!
For a chance to win 2 10 oz bags of yummy Pacific Cod from Orca Bay Seafoods, go to my Facebook page and follow the instructions!
Making this recipe? Snap a pic and tag me on Instagram: @Killing__Thyme /#killingthyme. For more delish eats, follow me on INSTAGRAM + PINTEREST.

Pan-Seared Cod in Herb and Butter Garlic Sauce With Pesto Pasta

Wild-caught Alaskan cod is pan-seared to perfection in an herb and garlic butter sauce, then served over a creamy pesto pasta with fresh summer produce.
Course Main
Cuisine Pescetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2
Author Killing Thyme


  • 2 4 oz fillets of Orca Bay wild-caught Pacific cod thaw them out in advance
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 4 TBSP Butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 TBSP thinly sliced shallots
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 TBSP white wine
  • 4 spears of asparagus, halved lengthwise

For the pasta

  • 3.5 oz whole wheat spaghetti but do we ever really make the right amount of pasta??
  • 2 TBSP pesto store-bought or homemade
  • 1 TBSP ricotta cheese (optional)
  • Butter sauce from the pan-seared cod

Optional Extras (See notes)

  • 1/2 oz julienned zucchini
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 TBSP toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • Sugar snap peas



  • Prepare your extras if you're using them; toast the walnuts, julienne the zucchini, slice the tomatoes, shuck your peas, and toast the walnuts (see notes).
  • Cook the pasta as per the package instructions. Once the pasta is done, save 2 TBSP of pasta water; drain the pasta of the rest and set the pasta back into the empty pot. While the pasta boils, cook your fish.

Cooking the fish

  • Heat butter over moderate heat in a non-stick pan or seasoned skillet. Once the butter is melted, add the garlic and shallots, and lightly simmer until the garlic is fragrant and the shallots are translucent — approx. 3 minutes. Make sure not to brown the garlic; lower heat if need be.
  • Add the chopped herbs and white wine, stir, and bring to a low simmer.
  • Pat the fillets of cod with paper towels, and season with a bit of kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
  • Carefully place the fillets of cod into the pan, and add the halved asparagus spears. Cook the fillets for three minutes, spooning butter mixture over the top of the fillets periodically to bathe them in the butter sauce. After three minutes, carefully flip the fillets and cook for another three minutes, or until the fillets reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Once done, remove the pan from the heat, and carefully transfer the fillets and asparagus to a plate. Reserve the butter sauce.
  • Stir in the the reserved pasta water, butter sauce, pesto, ricotta, and raw zucchini (if using) into the pot with the pasta. Stir and toss the pasta until everything is well combined, and transfer to plates.
  • Top the pasta with the fillets and the asparagus, then top with cherry tomato slices and toasted walnuts.
  • Take your dinner to the patio, pour some crisp white wine, and enjoy the summer evenings while you still can!


*In order to celebrate the crispness and freshness of summer produce, I decided to throw the "extras" in uncooked. The cool cherry tomatoes, crisp zucchini, and sweet peas bring a punch of freshness to the dish. You can, however, cook them in the butter with the fish and asparagus or, if you'd rather skip them entirely, you can do that too!
I'd definitely include the toasted walnuts, though. They add a wonderful crunch and pair amazingly with the tender fish and herbaceous pesto.
*To toast the walnuts, heat a small pan over low heat. Add the walnuts to the pan, and toast them until aromatic and lightly golden, stirring them often. Keep a close eye on them so you don't burn them.
Pan-Seared Cod in Herb and Garlic Butter Sauce With Pesto Pasta | Killing Thyme


  • Arlene H
    June 2, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    We made this dish for dinner tonight and it was AMAZING!!! We added a twist with some shrimp …but definitely a new favorite!!! I’d post a photo of allowed.

    • Killing Thyme
      June 3, 2019 at 9:35 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Arlene! And I love that you added shrimp. Adding shrimp only makes a dish better ;)

  • […] unswerving, funny, and loving with a sparkling dash of misanthropy.” Besides her amazing Pan-Seared Orca Bay Cod in Herb and Garlic Butter Sauce with Pesto Pasta (say that 3 times quickly!) recipe you can also find other seafood centric meals including a soon […]

  • James
    August 3, 2017 at 2:35 am

    Really wishing I’d used that hashtag when posting my own cod pic yesterday. I love that you discuss sustainably-sourced fish here

    • Killing Thyme
      August 3, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Haha, feel free to add it ;)
      And thank you! It makes me happy when people notice and appreciate the mentions of sustainability, because it means more people are caring about it.

  • Sandhya Hariharan
    August 2, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Your pictures are so gorgeous.. Makes me want to grab from the screen asap!!

    • Killing Thyme
      August 3, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Thank you, Sandhya! I wish I could hand you a bowl through the screen ;)

  • Patty @ Spoonabilities
    August 2, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious. Your photos are amazing too!

    • Killing Thyme
      August 3, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Thanks, Patty!

  • Ginny
    August 2, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    That Garlic Sauce With Pesto Pasta looks absolutely gorgeous. I definiterly love the optional veggies in there. Sounds so good!

    • Killing Thyme
      August 3, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks, Ginny!

  • Mary
    August 2, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    #ohmycod! I love the hashtag! I also appreciate the focus on sustainable seafood. I love fish, but want to make responsible choices!

    • Killing Thyme
      August 3, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Thanks, Mary! I love that more and more people are looking to make responsible choices when it comes to seafood, and food in general. Thank you for that <3

  • Christine
    August 2, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Love this flavorful fish dish!

    I agree – summer flies by so fast. Not ready for pumpkins and butternut squash yet. Would love to pause summer for a bit longer. :)

    • Killing Thyme
      August 3, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      Thanks, Christine! I’m with you. I do have an appreciation for fall produce, but it feels like it lasts SO much longer than spring and summer produce, which just isn’t fair. Not to mention, fall produce just isn’t as colorful; can’t compete with the watermelon radishes that Spring brings us :)


Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.