Poached Fish with Tomato-Saffron Broth and Garden Vegetables

By Jess O’Toole

This is a recipe for the heat of summer, when tomatoes hang heavily on the vine and your garden is bursting with fresh herbs. Poached fish may sound fancy, but it’s a foolproof technique for cooking fish by gently simmering it in broth for a few minutes. Any firm white-fleshed fish will do — cod, halibut, monkfish or whatever is freshest at the market. Embrace the lazy summer haze and don’t worry about being too precise. Toss in a handful of herbs, sloppily chop the tomatoes and nonchalantly add the four cloves of garlic. Serve the delicate pieces of fish over a quick cooking grain, such as bulgur or couscous, with generous spoonfuls of the heady broth and garden vegetables.

Serves 4


Heat the olive oil over medium on the stovetop in a fish poacher or other large pan that has a lid. Smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of your knife and toss them into the warm oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, allowing the garlic to become golden and caramelized (about 5 minutes). Add the leeks and zucchini slices and cook until tender (5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Roughly chop the tomatoes, leaving some of the cherry tomatoes whole for a variety of textures. Add the tomatoes to the pan with a couple pinches of salt and stir to combine all the ingredients. Pour the chicken stock over and the mixture and bring to a simmer. Stir in the saffron and 1 tablespoon of chopped basil leaves. Place the fish on top of the simmering liquid, turn the heat down to low and put the lid on the pot. If the fish is too large to fit in the pot, cut it into manageable pieces. The liquid should gently simmer, not boil. Poach the fish until it flakes easily with a fork and appears opaque throughout, 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt at the end of cooking. To serve, divide the fish into four portions using a spatula. Serve over bulgur wheat or couscous with the vegetables from the pan, a spoonful of the aromatic broth and a few leaves of basil.


  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini (weighing about 6 oz.), thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 lbs. very ripe tomatoes, an assortment of cherry tomatoes and heirloom varieties
  • 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock (or water)
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
  • 1 large skinless fillet of cod, halibut, monkfish or other firm white-fleshed fish (weighing about 1 to 1 1/3 lbs.), bones removed
  • Sea salt

Nutrition Facts Per Serving!

(Calculated using cod as the fish, does not include bulgur wheat or couscous side dish.)

  • Calories  244
  • Total Fat  12 g
  • Saturated Fat 2 g
  • Cholesterol 50 mg
  • Sodium 144 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 12 g
  • Dietary Fiber 1 g
  • Sugars  8 g
  • Protein  23 g