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BASIL PESTO AND GOAT CHEESE CRUSTED HADDOCK WITH SAUTEED CHERRY TOMATOES

Recipe Source: Chef Craig Flinn

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Haddock is one of the most popular fishes in Nova Scotia for its flavor and versatility. But it does tend to be rather brittle when handled too much. This recipe bakes the fillets so they won’t fall apart with over-handling. It’s a simple recipe and can be served with potatoes or a simple buttered noodle like linguini or spaghetti.

For the haddock:
4 X 10 oz (300 g) haddock fillets
1/2 cup (125 mL) softened goat cheese
1/2 cup (125 mL) softened cream cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
2 tbsp (30 mL) 35% cream
1/2 cup (125 mL) basil pesto
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (90 mL) parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
1/2 cup (125 mL) panko or fresh breadcrumbs
3 tbsp (45 mL) melted butter
1 cup (250 mL) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
a handful of fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Place the haddock fillets on a cutting board and trim away the thin belly portion and tail, creating a thicker, rectangular shaped fillet. Place the trimmed fish (bone-free) in a food processor. Process on high until the fish is quite smooth, then add the goat cheese, cream cheese, garlic, egg yolk, and cream; puree on high until very smooth (about 2 minutes). Scrape down the sides and add the pesto, a 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Pulse until the crust is smooth. Spread an even layer of pesto cheese crust over the top of the 4 fillets of haddock, approximately 1/8” thick. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to set the cheese.

In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, melted butter, and the 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese together. Divide the breadcrumbs evenly over the 4 fillets of haddock and pat into the cream cheese crust.

Preheat your oven to 400 F (200 C) and bake the fillets on a greased baking tray for 5 to 7 minutes or until the crust is just beginning to turn brown.

While the fish is baking, heat a sauté pan over very high heat until it begins to smoke slightly. Add the olive oil and then instantly add the cherry tomatoes (Note: be careful as the oil may spit when the tomatoes are added to the hot pan). Sauté for about a minute and throw in the fresh basil leaves and a little salt and pepper to taste. Serve the tomatoes with some buttered new potatoes.

Serves 4