Poached Fish with Spinach in a Chilli-Tomato Sauce

Poached Fish with Spinach by Amelia FreerI like this one because it’s a one-pan dish – you will need a pan with a lid. You can use a can of tomatoes instead of using passata if you wish. When it comes to buying passata, there are lots of varieties available, some of which have additives, so it’s worth reading the label. Always try to buy passata in a glass jar. If you’re a more confident cook, you can always blend your own tomatoes to make the sauce.

You don’t need to be precise with the quantities for this dish at all – a handful of cherry tomatoes, add some onion, etc. The important thing is to have the lid to keep in steam and heat so you get a very nice lightly cooked fish. You don’t want to overcook it. I’ve used hake but you can use any white fish like cod, sea bass, halibut or even salmon. It’s simple but tasty, and the kind of thing you could easily rustle up for yourself or friends. You can use any green veg but it works well with fennel – sautéed in a pan or slow-baked, or added to the pan and cooked with the fish and tomatoes. This is a great one for a novice cook.

You’ll Need (serves 2)

  • Olive oil
  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 bulb of fennel, finely sliced
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced (deseeded for less heat, if you like)
  • 500 ml of passata
  • 2 handfuls (approx. 180g) of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 x 150g white fish fillets, such as cod, hake, or sea bass, skinned and pin-boned
  • 100g black or green olives, pitted
  • Handful of baby spinach

For the topping:

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 small clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • Zest of 1 lemon, plus a squeeze of juice


  1. Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a pan on medium heat and sauté the onion, fennel and chili for 2 to 3 minutes, to soften. Add the tomato purée and cherry tomatoes. Simmer for a further 4 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with a little salt and pepper.
  2. Arrange the fish fillets in the pan, on top of the tomato sauce. Cover with a lid and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the fish is cooked and starting to flake. Just before serving, carefully stir in the olives and baby spinach and heat for a further minute.
  3. Meanwhile combine the parsley, garlic, lemon zest, and juice in a bowl.
  4. To serve, arrange the fish fillets on plates and spoon over the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with the herby topping, and add a squeeze of lemon juice to finish.
  5. Enjoy this with some additional steamed greens.

This recipe appears in my book Cook. Nourish. Glow. (photo credit: Susan Bell)

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