Erin French's Buttered Cod with Fennel, Olives, Capers and Croutons

The beauty of this mild, juicy, flaky fish is that it’s easy to cook well at home (the secret is in the butter), and you can complement it with any number of flavors. I love layering it with salty olives and capers, the fresh crunch of fennel, and warm croutons—it’s like you’ve gone to Italy for a moment. You don’t need anything else on your plate for a perfectly satisfying meal. 

COOK’S NOTE: A cherry pitter works wonders for getting stubborn pits out of olives. Alternatively, a good smash with the side of a chef’s knife will do the trick as well. 


Buttered Cod with Fennel, Olives, Capers and Croutons

  • 2 Tbsp Finely Chopped Shallots
  • 2 Tbsp Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Plus 1 Tbsp
  • 2 Cups Cubed Crusty Bread I like 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 Bulb Fennel Halved, cored and very thinly sliced (fronds reserved for garnish)
  • 1/2 Cup Halved and Pitted Green Olives Such as Castelvetrano
  • 1 Tbsp Capers Drained
  • 2 Tsp Chopped Fresh Chives
  • 1 Tsp Chopped DIll
  • Grated Zest and Juice of 1 Small Lemon
  • 4 5 to 6-Oz Cod Fillets Skin left on
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper Optional
  • 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter


IN A MEDIUM BOWL, combine the shallots and vinegar. Set the mixture aside for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and the shallots to soften. 


Preheat the oven to 425°F. 


In a large cast-iron skillet or heavy sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and cook, stirring frequently, until toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. 


In a large bowl, combine the bread with the shallot and vinegar mixture, fennel, olives, capers, chives, dill, and lemon zest and toss gently to coat. Set aside while you cook the fish. 


Pat each cod fillet dry with paper towels to remove any surface moisture. This will help you get a good, crispy sear. Generously season both sides of each fillet with salt, and pepper if you like. 


In a large cast-iron skillet or heavy ovenproof sauté pan, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until smoking. Gently add the fish fillets skin side down and cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. 


Flip the fish and cook for another 30 seconds, then add the butter, swirling the pan to help it melt. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the fish until it’s flaky and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. 


Transfer the bread salad to a serving platter. Baste the fish with the pan juices and nestle the fillets over the salad. Drizzle a bit of the buttery pan juices over the top, along with the lemon juice. Garnish with the fennel fronds, if you like, and serve.