Preheat the oven to 375°F.
With paper towels, pat the cod fillets dry. Salt and pepper both sides of the fillets.
Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over high heat Sear the cod in the olive oil 2 to 3 minutes per side. Carefully remove the cod from the pan and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic, and sauté until soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree, olives, capers, and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Return the cod fillets to the skillet, spooning some of the sauce over them. Dot with the butter and transfer the skillet to the hot oven. Cook for 20 minutes.
With oven gloves, carefully remove the skillet. Serve immediately, transferring the fillets to individual heated serving plates and spooning the sauce over them. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon slices.
Mike McGrath has been in the food business nearly all his life and has been a business partner and friend of mine for a big portion. He was cofounder of Budget Gourmet, President of Weight Watchers Foods, CEO and co-founder with me of Wolfgang Puck Organic Soup Company, and even President of Paul Newman’s Food Company, Newman’s Own. Mike’s a great businessman, but his real passion is cooking, at which he’s very, very good. This is my favorite recipe of his. It tastes so good that you might even think you’re in a special restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean.
4 cod fillets, 5 to 6 ounces each
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano crushed or pureed tomatoes
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons capers, drained
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
1 lemon, sliced