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Soul Food/A Weekly Locavore Post

During a visit to Israel in the 1990s, I saw my Aunt Malka make this dish. I have been cooking it ever since. She never wrote down the recipe for me; she didn’t have to, since the ingredients were so simple and intuitive. What I particularly love about this recipe is that there is practically no chopping involved. As a working mom who has limited time to prepare dinner, this is a huge bonus. It also means that it is easy to include small hands safely in the preparation. And it always comes out well, whether I use fresh tomatoes or canned. It's as close to foolproof as a recipe can get.


  • 4 cod fillets (approx 8 oz each)

  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro

  • 1 can organic tomato paste

  • 2.5 cups chopped organic fresh tomatoes

  • OR 1 package organic diced or chopped tomatoes (about 26 oz)

  • 1 head of garlic (about 6 medium-sized cloves)

  • Approx 2 oz of extra virgin olive oil (or enough to coat bottom of pot)

  • Salt and pepper and whatever other spices you like, to taste


  1. Coat bottom of a deep stockpot with EVOO and add 6 cloves of garlic. You can cut the garlic in halves or just toss them right in whole. Cook on low heat until garlic is fragrant. Add entire can of tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and a few shakes of salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on low while you prepare the cilantro, about 10 minutes.

  2. Wash the cilantro thoroughly and then separate leaves from stems. (This is a great job for small children.) Compost or juice the stems as you wish. Set the leaves aside in a bowl.

  3. Add a bit of salt and pepper to the cod fillets on both sides.

  4. Uncover pot, give it a stir, and then pat down to make a 1-2 inch layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pot. Layer the cod fillets on top. Sprinkle all the cilantro leaves on top of the fish as your top layer.

  5. Cover and simmer on low flame for 15 minutes. Carefully lift the cod pieces out with a spatula. Taste the sauce, and add a little of this and a little of that to your taste. I add extra salt and pepper, and a dash of turmeric and cinnamon sometimes.

  6. Spoon out the sauce on top of the fish and serve with rice, quinoa or cous cous. May be refrigerated and enjoyed for several days.

Illustration by Valeria Clark

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