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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.