Delia Smith's Winter Collection
APRIL 24 2012


The sunny weather over the weekend put me in the mood for a light, fresh meal and fish seemed like just the ticket. I know I've had my challenges cooking fish in the past, but this being a roasted dish, I was feeling more confident. It's usually the pan-frying that puts me all in a tizzy.

As a bonus, both recipes require "little or no attention"... yes! And I get to turn the oven to it's highest setting. Things about to get hot in here! Just gotta chop the roots then toss them with herbs, garlic and olive oil. Then into the screaming hot oven to sizzle for 35 minutes. Ah, I'll just pop outside and check on the garden.

Roots almost done (it's getting a little smokey in here) so I'll turn my attention to the tapenade. It has so many pungent, salty ingredients I'm a little worried it will totally over-power the fish so I am a little skimpy when applying it to the fillets. Out come the roots and they are totally blackened and caramelized... and smell fabulous! Once the oven has reached a very reasonable 400F, in go the cod for a quick 20 minute roast. Grab a beer and plunk myself on the couch to relax until the timer dings.

these roots are seriously roasted

Well, that was easy! A simple, healthy yet tasty meal with so little work... I love it! The roots are so nice despite their intimidating blackening. After resting 20 minutes while the fish cooked, all the toasty bits have softened and soaked up the oily, herby juices. Yum! And the fish rocks! It's perfectly balanced by the intense tapenade. The perfect doneness, with lovely juices to soak up with the crusty bread. An excellent dinner!


This is, quite simply, a fantastic recipe – it takes no time at all but has the kind of taste that makes people think you spent hours in the kitchen. And another of its great virtues is that, apart from the fish itself and fresh basil leaves, the whole thing is made from storecupboard ingredients.

Serves 6

6 tail-end pieces of cod or haddock weighing 6-7 oz (175-200 g) each, skin removed

For the tapenade:
10 oz sun-dried tomatoes, drained, reserving the oil
185 g pitted black olives in brine, drained and rinsed

1 oz basil leaves
2 fat cloves garlic, peeled
1 heaped teaspoon green peppercorns in brine, rinsed and drained
50 g anchovies including the oil
3 heaped tablespoons capers, drained and dried
3 tablespoons oil from the tomatoes
Freshly milled black pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.

Begin by reserving 6 whole olives and 6 medium basil leaves from the ingredients, then all you do to make the tapenade – which can be made 2 or 3 days in advance – is place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend them together to a coarse paste. It's important not to over-process; the ingredients should retain some of their identity.

When you're ready to cook the fish, wipe the fillets with kitchen paper, season, then fold them by tucking the thin end into the centre then the thick end on top of that so you have a neat, slightly rounded shape. Turn them over and place on an oiled baking sheet, then divide the tapenade mixture equally between them, using it as a topping. Press it on quite firmly with your hands, then lightly roughen the surface with a fork.

Dip the reserved basil leaves in a little of the reserved tomato oil and place one on the top of each piece of fish, following that with an olive. Now place the baking tray on a high shelf in the oven, bake the fish for 20-25 minutes and serve straight away.


This is a winner for entertaining, not least because all the vegetables can be cooked together with little or no attention. 

Serves 4

4 small whole carrots
4 small whole parsnips
½ swede, cut into 1 inch wedges
1 small turnip, cut in half and then into ¾ inch slices
2 medium red onions, peeled and cut through the root into quarters
2 red potatoes, 5 oz each, cut into 6 wedges
1 fat garlic clove, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 level tablespoon chopped mixed herbs (including thyme, rosemary and sage)
Salt and freshly milled black pepper


Pre-heat the oven to its highest setting.

First scrub the carrots and parsnips, dry them well and place them in a large bowl with all the other prepared vegetables. Now add the crushed garlic, olive oil and mixed herbs; then, using your hands, mix well to make sure they all have a good coating of the oil. You can leave them like this covered with clingfilm for up to 2 hours until you are ready to cook them – in which case the oil will have nicely absorbed the flavour of the garlic and herbs.

Then arrange them on a large baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and a good grinding of black pepper and cook in the pre-heated oven on a high shelf for 35-40 minutes or until they are cooked through.

These recipes are taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.

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