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Pesce alla Ghiotta (Sicilian Fish with Potatoes and Olives)

Pesce alla Ghiotta is quite possibly one of the most flavorful ways to prepare fish.  This rustic Sicilian recipe calls for poaching cod in a savory tomato and olive-based broth alongside potato wedges for a memorable one-pot meal.  Be sure to serve it with a loaf of crusty bread so you can soak up every drop of the delicious sauce.

A blue bowl of tender white fish in a stew of potatoes, cheery tomatoes and black olives on a table with sliced bread.

Growing up, I remember my mom making this dish; frankly, I didn’t even know it had a name or that anyone else made it.  I assumed she made this up. Imagine my surprise when I first saw this on a restaurant menu!  Honestly, this dish is so good I don’t know why it isn’t on every restaurant menu!  

Pesce alla Ghiotta, or glutton style, is a traditional fish dish from Messina, a town on the eastern coast of Sicily.  Traditional recipes poach baccala or salted cod and potatoes, in a broth with sauteed onion, tomatoes, olives, and capers. In other areas of southern Italy, such as Calabria, you might find versions made with stoccofisso, or air-dried cod.  

What I love about Sicilian-style cooking is that we use ingredients that are readily available to create flavor-packed food experiences.  This recipe is a perfect example.  

Every ingredient is representative of the region and contributes to the deep flavors of the dish.  The tomatoes add tanginess, the olives and capers bring some salty brininess and the onion and garlic add an aromatic sweetness.  Truly a winning combination!

In my version, I strayed ever so slightly away from tradition, but based on my family’s reaction, the minor alterations were very well received.  First I use fresh cod, simply because it is easier to find.  Secondly, I made my broth with white wine rather than water. I think wine adds depth of flavor and melds beautifully with the other ingredients.

Let me show you how easy it is to create this flavorful dish in under an hour!

Labeled ingredients for making Fish in a ghiotta style sauce

Ingredients For Pesce alla Ghiotta

Cod Fillets:  Any thick firm textured white fish will work well in this dish.  You might see swordfish steaks or tuna made in this style as well.  If you want to use baccala, you will need to soak it in cold water for at least 24 hours.  Be sure to change the water every few hours.

Onion:  Sliced yellow or white onion is best.  I don’t recommend using red onions as they change the flavor of the dish.

Garlic:  Fresh minced garlic will be the most aromatic.

Red Pepper Flakes:  This is optional but it adds a pleasant spiciness and it does not overpower the tender fish.

Cherry Tomatoes:  You can use any fresh or canned tomatoes that have been cut into chunks.

Black Olives:  You can use any black olive that you like.  In this recipe, I used Greek Black Olives.  

Capers:  I recommend salted capers that have been rinsed and drained.  

Potatoes:  Peeled and cut into wedges.

White Wine:  I recommend a dry white wine to blend with the strong flavors from the other ingredients.  

Step By Step Instructions

A large sauté pan with cherry tomatoes and onion.

1.  Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large sauté pan.  When the oil is hot, add the sliced onion and cook over medium-low heat until it is tender.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook just until the garlic is fragrant about 30 seconds.  Add the tomatoes, black olives and capers.  Cook for a minute so that the tomatoes begin to release their juices.

A sauté pan with tomatoes, potato slices and black olives

2.  Stir in the wine and add the potatoes.  Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.  Taste the broth and season with salt as needed.

Fish nestled in a sauté pan with potatoes, tomatoes, olives and a broth.

3. Add the fish, nestling it into the broth.  If the liquid cooks down too much, add a bit of water.  Cover and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes. The cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the fish.  The dish is done when the fish flakes easily and the potatoes are tender.

A blue bowl of pesce alla ghiotta.

Variations

  • As I mentioned above using baccala or stoccofisso is traditional but some other southern Italian favorites are swordfish steaks and tuna steaks.
  • This would also be delicious with shrimp.
  • Green olives like, cervignola are also a good option.
  • If you aren’t a seafood fan, try making this with chicken instead.

Other Sicilian Recipes

Since both sides of my family come from Sicily, I have had the benefit of growing up with the flavors of the island and influences from norther Italian cuisine. Some of the most memorable family dishes include Nonna’s Pasta al Forno which is loaded with zucchini, mushrooms and lots of cheese. It is one of the most comforting meals of my childhood!

Another famous Sicilian pasta dish you should absolutely try is Pasta alla Norma. This pasta is tossed in a simple tomato sauce and topped with fried eggplant sauce and ricotta salata.

My mom and Nonna both made the best Zucchini and Potato Soup. This flavorful soup is one of the most requested recipes in our family.

I love to get your feedback so if you tried this Pesce alla Ghiotta or any other recipes on this website, please leave me a comment below.  I hope you enjoy our recipes and look forward to hearing from you!

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Pesce alla ghiotta in a blue bowl.

Pesce alla Ghiotta

This is a rustic Sicilian classic one pan meal. Tender flaky fish and potatoes are poached in a simple rustic broth flavored with cherry tomatoes, capers, olives and white wine. The result is a flavorful restaurant quality dish that you can make in under an hour.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course dinner, First course, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 414 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • lbs Cod Fish or another firm white fish, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2-3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion large, sliced
  • 2 cloves Garlic Minced
  • ½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • tbsp Capers drained
  • lbs Black Olives
  • 2 Potatoes Medium, peeled and cut into wedges
  • cups White Wine dry

Instructions
 

  • Heat olive oil over medium low heat in a large sauté pan. When oil is glistening add the onion and cook until it starts to become tender. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté stirring a few times, just until the garlic is fragrant about 30 seconds.
  • Add the cherry tomatoes, olives, capers, and white wine. Cook for a minute then add the potatoes, cover and let it cook over low heat for 20 minutes.
  • Taste the sauce for salt and add it if needed. Nestle the fish into the sauce, cover and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes. The fish is done when it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingsCalories: 414kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 33gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 780mgPotassium: 1272mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 298IUVitamin C: 25mgCalcium: 78mgIron: 2mg
Keyword easy but impressive, fish, seafood, white wine, tomatoes, capers, olives
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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5 from 1 vote

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