Basa Filets with Pine Nut, Parmesan and Basil Pesto Crust

It hasn’t been easy.

I’ve been married for almost a quarter century to a man who eats whatever he wants and is still the same weight he was in high school. That means having to sit next to him at Sunday morning breakfast watching him sop up the yolks of his two sunny-side up eggs with a buttered bagel, while I nibble at an egg white omelet.  On the other hand, it also means feeling like a pig when he refuses to even taste the delicious appetizer I’m eating, because he doesn’t want to “ruin” his dinner.   After said dinner, however, I’ll open the freezer to find that once again, he’s brought home, not one but two half gallons of ice cream (he likes to mix the flavors).  I swear I want to just take those damned ice cream cartons and toss them in the trash. But who am I to tell a guy who rides his bike to work every day and plays tennis at least once a week that he can’t have ice cream?

Not that he purposefully sabotages me or anything.

Because he doesn’t. After all, the poor guy never knows which wife he’s getting when he calls me from work to plan the evening’s meal – the wife who loves Shephard’s Pie as much as he does or the one who’s starting South Beach – again. If I counter with a suggestion for fish for dinner, he may just argue back that he really is in the mood for meat. How could he know that this is not a “what are you in the mood for?” discussion but yet another of many, many make-or-break moments for my diet?  (Unless of course,  I’ve  already broken my diet at lunch and given up for the day, in which case it is a “what are you in the mood for?” discussion…)

Now I’m sure at some point early on, when love was young (and I was much thinner), he must have been a little more clued in to my dietary routine. But now, after so many years of countless diets,  it seems he’s learned to just keep to his own food desires and leave me to handle the weight issues on my own.  It pisses me off sometimes, but mostly I understand.

Why am I telling you this?

I’m telling you all this now so that you can appreciate what it is I am going to tell you next, which is this – His doctor just told him he has 3 months to lower his cholesterol or he has to take a statin.

I won’t say that I’ve been waiting for this moment for 25 years...

But you know, it kind of feels that way. For the first time in our marriage, my husband and I are actually on a shared road diet-wise.

It’s really quite amazing when I think about it. We actually had the same breakfast last weekend – steel cut oatmeal. He called tonight from work to suggest we have tofu for dinner! (Which we did.)   And last night, when I suggested this wonderful fish entree from Kalyn’s Kitchen for dinner, he jumped at the chance to have one of the three fish meals he’s decided to eat a week.  I’ve already lost 5 pounds since his doc gave him the ultimatum – all without feeling at all like I’m dieting.

I finally have a live-in diet buddy. Not a lose weight and starve yourself diet buddy, but a let’s eat healthy and keep eating great food buddy.  Add in the fact that he’s always been my ” Do you wanna’ join me on a bike ride?” buddy, and I have a feeling we’re off on a wonderful journey together.

Oh, and the ice cream in the freezer?

It’s GONE.

Basa Filets with Pine Nut, Parmesan and Basil Pesto Crust

Makes 3-4 servings. Adapted from Kalyn, who adapted it from Cooking New American. I encourage you to check out her recipe, which also has great prep pics. Kalyn chops her pine nuts, giving a more even crust. I think I will do that next time; I was just feeling lazy tonight. I wanted to be sure I had enough topping for three filets, so I increased the pesto and decreased the mayo a tad from the original recipe. I also added more garlic.

3 basa or other white fish fillets, about 6 oz. each (You could use flounder, tilapia or cod to name a few)
3 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 tsp finely minced garlic
3 tbsp basil pesto (Made without cheese – see recipe below)
1 tbsp mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Brush casserole dish with olive oil (We used a Le Creuset lasagna pan).  Remove the fish fillets from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature while the oven heats.

Mix together the pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, pesto and mayo. Use a rubber scraper to spread the crust mixture evenly over the surface of each fish fillet. Pile it on so all the crust mixture is used.

Bake fish 10-15 minutes, until fish is firm to the touch and crust mixture is starting to lightly brown. If necessary, pop the filets under the broiler for a few minutes to get the crust brown (as we did).

Serve hot. (We served with string beans sauteed in oil and roasted cauliflower, sweet potato and figs.)

Basil Pesto
I decided to make this batch of pesto  without cheese or pine nuts, since I was adding these to the topping later. Turns out it tastes great – my daughter had it on pasta, which she heavily tops with grated parmesan anyway.
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • (1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese -optional)

Combine the basil, garlic, and salt in the bowl of food processor and grind till the mixture forms a paste.  While running the food processor, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.  Stores well in the fridge or freezer. Before serving beat in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or pass the Parmesan at the table.

7 Responses to Basa Filets with Pine Nut, Parmesan and Basil Pesto Crust

  1. Sounds great! However, your pesto recipe is missing the amount of pine nuts. About how many, and should they be toasted first?

    Sending you best wishes for the New Year.


  2. Also very excellent with salmon. And I’ve been known to add a half cup of white wine in the bottom of the pan for a bit more flavor as well.

  3. Yikes…just saw “Forks over Knives” film for second time. Check it out and best of luck with spouse. Mine, the intense racquetball player, had a quadruple bypass 7 years ago at NYU Hospital. Changed our diet, more plant-based, smaller portions–still a challenge.

    Your guy is younger, should be easier. All good wishes. Recipe looks delicious.

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