Spinach & feta fish fillets for building beautiful bones

20070327 SpinachAndFetaFishTitleI have told you about the first meal that Nick cooked me – stuffed gem squash. But I don’t believe I have told you about the first meal I cooked him.

It was 10 years ago and I was still living at home with my parents, so I was in a quandary. If I invited him home, a quiet dinner a deux was clearly not on the cards as my parents would be all over him like a rash. And if we went out on our own, firstly I would have to nail my colours to the mast and he would know I had the hots for him, and secondly, I wouldn’t be able to show off my skills in the kitchen. What to do, what to do…In the end I decided on staying home and inviting a bunch of other people. That way, I diverted my parents’ attention, diverted Nick’s attention and I got to show off my culinary skills. A win-win-win situation!

As there were eight or so people coming to dinner, I had to be a little creative to stay within my budget. Luckily, there was a great fishmonger (Provincial Fisheries) down the road, so I set off to find some firm white fish for what I had in mind. If you are well-off in South Africa, your firm white fish of choice is likely to be kingklip. A step down from that is hake – a national staple rather like cod is in the UK. But at that time, hake had shot up I price, and I did not feel like spending huge amounts of money on something which I had always thought of as pretty middle-of-the-road. And after all, I was out to impress! So I told the fishmonger what I had I mind and he suggested some beautiful pinksh-white fillets: butter bream, which cost about half the price of hake.  Result!

Of course, 10 years ago you didn’t go shopping for fish with a search what’s about to be made extinct in your pocket – but these days it always pays to check first.  And sadly, it appears that this wonderful fish (Pachymetopon Grande, also known as bronze sea bream), is classified as vulnerable and I would think twice before buying it again.  But the good news is that you can substitute any firm white fish fillets.  If you are buying ethically, in the UK that means no Atlantic cod (although Pacific cod or farmed cod is OK), but my current favourite sustainable white fish is pollock, which is what I used here (haddock is also good).

Not that nutritional concerns were uppermost in my mind, but this is a great low-fat, high calcium meal, with both the spinach and the cheese being good sources of calcium.  Why am I mentioning this?  Because this dish is my submission to the lovely Susan of Foodblogga’s Beautiful Bones event running throughout may to raise awareness of osteoporosis, commonly known as brittle bone disease.  If you want to avoid getting up close and personal with splints and crutches, it is essential that you get your daily dose of calcium-rich foods, as bone mass declines with age.  And if your calcium fix also tastes heavenly, more’s the better!

For my cook-to-impress meal, I decided to give my guests a choice between two fish dishes: pizza fish, topped with tomato and cheddar; and spanakopita fish, topped with spinach and feta cheese. Both were really easy and could be left in the oven indefinitely at a low temperature, giving me plenty of opportunity to schmooze Nick. To this day, I don’t know if it was my subtle schmoozing or the delicious fish that hooked Nick, so I don’t want to tell you this will make the love of your life fall instantly in love with you.

But it sure worked for me.



about 500g firm while fish fillet like hake or line-caught cod (I bought one large fillet and cut it in half to cook)BeautifulBones logo
1 cup of cooked and drained spinach (I used tinned)
100g feta cheese
half an onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried dill


If using cold spinach as I was, heat the spinach over medium heat in a small saucepan together with half the garlic.  Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Rinse and pat the fish dry.  Spray a shallow oven-proof dish with olive oil spray and lay the fish fillets in it.  Brush with olive oil and scatter the onion and remaining garlic over the fish.  Season with salt, pepper and dill.

Spread the spinach evenly over the fish, then crumble the feta cheese over the spinach.  Bae in the oven for 30-45 mins or until you can flake the fish.  Turn on the grill for the final few minutes to brown the feta.  Serve with brown rice and a green salad.

If you enjoyed reading this, please consider sharing it using the social media buttons below the post. I'd also love to hear what you thought about this post so please do leave a comment below. Hope to see you again soon!

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. says

    How yummy. I sometimes look at white fish and think, “what the hell to do with you”. This is a great idea, and one which I will be testing out shortly on my family. Thanks for sharing your seduction story – I enjoyed it! Sounds like Nick did too.

  2. says

    Dear Cook Sister – I just love the stories you tell around your food and then you add charity to boot – Great! – As an ex saffie I LOVE kingklip and hake and snoek and and and – I am pleased you mentioned Pollock as I am able to get that here – I am in the USA now – and wasn’t sure how to prepare that – I am not the best cook in town – sort of a late bloomer I would say – but I have to tell you I sure smiled at your shamoozing your Nick that made me giggle and reminded me what my mom always used to say – the way to a man’s heart is through his tummy because kissing don’t last good cookin do! So I think your Nick was totally bulldozed before he even tasted the fish – but that was the cherry on top – thank you for the lovely ideas and lekker food recipes – I really enjoy reading your blog Ciao for now regards Moonie

  3. says

    I read this book “Lovely bones” a few years ago, so seeing your post title confused me for a second :) But it’s a nice-looking recipe, for sure :)

  4. says

    Jeanne, I love this recipe! :)
    Feta and spinach are one of my favourite combos… adding fish to it sounds really like a good idea… thank you… I know what I will be making this week!

  5. says

    Fish? That’s you how hooked Nick? Who would have thought? I think mine may have been a chicken stir-fry. Stir-fries were really big when Jeff and I started dated. ‘Course it wasn’t until our hands met in the popcorn bowl that he was really hooked. 😉
    This is such a lovely story, delicious recipe, and nutritious entry! Many thanks for supporting my event, Jeanne!

  6. says

    Hi Kalyn
    Glad you like it – it tastes even better than it looks. Clearly, it worked on Nick!
    Hi Charlotte
    I know – white fish is one of those things that you know is good for you but seldom inspiring. This recipe as well as the “pizza fish” are total winners :)
    Hi Moonie
    Thanks so much for your kind words! I sometimes wonder if people don’t roll their eyes at yet another story from me, but hey, I’m a born storyteller. Glad to her you like them :) And do get some pollock – it is a lovely fish.
    Hi Pille
    LOL! Nope, nothing to do with the novel & everything to do with osteoporosis :) Glad you like the recipe – it’s a winner in our house.
    Hi Margot
    So glad to hear you fancy the recipe! It is one of my weeknight regulars as it’s quick, easy and good for us. And I agree 100% on the spinach & feta combo – that’s what first persuaded me to start eating spinach as a teenager :)
    Hi Susan
    Yup – you can see I was on a constrained budget back then because these days seduction dinners would be somewhat more elaborate 😉 I think the first time we entertained togther I made pasta with a creamy tomato and onion sauce and that impressed him no end too – who woulda known?!

  7. says

    Aloha! I am going to try this tonight with chicken instead of fish:-)I will let you know how it goes. I think I will substitute lavender for the dill.

  8. says

    I tried it with the chicken and my family loved it!I did everything the same except I browned the chicken breasts in a pan first with olive oil and garlic, then baked all of it for 45 min.