Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Spicy Pepita Cilantro Pesto Fish With Asparagus

Cuisine: Caribbean
Servings: 4 servings

Fresh cilantro, toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and serrano chile are the best starter for many recipes.

Although they are ingredients we often use individually, for this baked fish recipe, they are combined with the sharp, salty flavors of Cotija cheese.

For those who still doubt the flavor of the fish, this recipe is ideal. This fish is far from bland and boring. If anything, you'll wish you had doubled the recipe!

Add mustard to give the pesto a spicy note and butter to keep the fish moist, and you'll see the results.


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  1. In the blender, combine all of the ingredients for the pesto. Blend on high until smooth; taste for salt. If you want a more coarse finish on the pesto, I suggest pulsing it in the food processor. Line two baking sheets with foil paper and set aside. Toss the asparagus with olive oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic, and lemon juice, transfer to one lined baking sheet, and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 250ºF. In a small bowl, add five tablespoons of cilantro pesto, Dijon mustard, and some fresh cracked pepper, about 1/3 of a teaspoon. Stir well to combine.
  3. Brush butter onto the other lined baking sheet in four spots, just slightly bigger than the fillets. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and add fish. Brush fish tops with butter and again season lightly with salt and pepper. Top each fillet with a generous portion of cilantro pesto/mustard mixture on top—Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until fish flakes off the end with a fork. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and cover loosely with foil paper to keep warm.
  4. Quickly raise oven temperature to 400ºF. Roast the asparagus for 15 minutes, remove it from the oven, and top with grated cheese and red pepper flakes. Garnish fish with fresh cilantro and cheese; serve with asparagus.

Chef Notes

If you have pesto leftover, you can add more olive oil to thin it out. It makes a fantastic dressing! Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

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Sonia Mendez Garcia

Writer, food blogger and recipe developer at La Piña en La Cocina and contributor at Hispanic Kitchen.