Crispy Catfish & Fregola Sarda with English Peas & Salsa Verde

Crispy Catfish & Fregola Sarda

with English Peas & Salsa Verde

35 MIN
4 Servings
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From the Test Kitchen

Fregola sarda is a type of pasta that hails from Sardinia, an island located off the western coast of Italy. The small, round pearls are toasted to give them a deliciously nutty flavor. In this recipe, we’re tossing fregola sarda, fresh English peas and spinach in a lemon-butter sauce to create a hearty base for pan-seared catfish. (A coating of rice flour ensures our fillets have a perfectly crispy crust.) We’re topping the catfish with a few spoonfuls of Italian salsa verde—a green sauce we’re making with parsley, almonds and Parmesan—for a bright, flavorful finish.

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  • Nutrition
    PER SERVING
  • Calories
    575 Cals (est.)
fresh
ingredients
time-saving
tips & techniques
Cook the pasta:
1 Cook the pasta:

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Once boiling, add the pasta. Cook 14 to 17 minutes, or until tender. Thoroughly drain the cooked pasta. Rinse and wipe out the pot.

Prepare the ingredients:
2 Prepare the ingredients:

While the pasta cooks, wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and finely chop the garlic; using the flat side of your knife, smash until it resembles a paste (or use a zester). Quarter and deseed the lemon. Finely chop the parsley leaves and stems. Finely chop the almonds and cheese.

Cook & drain the spinach:
3 Cook & drain the spinach:

In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Working in batches if necessary, add the spinach; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until wilted. Transfer to a strainer; hold or rest the strainer over a bowl. Using a spoon, press down on the cooked spinach to release as much liquid as possible; discard the liquid. Transfer the drained spinach to a cutting board and finely chop. Wipe out the pan.

Cook the peas & finish the pasta:
4 Cook the peas & finish the pasta:

In the pot used to cook the pasta, combine the peas and ¼ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Heat to boiling on high; cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until bright green and the water has cooked off. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Add ¾ of the garlic paste; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the cooked pasta, chopped spinach, butter and the juice of 2 lemon wedges. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until well combined. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Coat & cook the catfish:
5 Coat & cook the catfish:

While the peas cook, place the flour on a plate. Pat the catfish dry with paper towels; season both sides with salt and pepper. Coat 1 side of each seasoned fillet in the flour (tapping off any excess). In the pan used to cook the spinach, heat a thin layer of oil on medium-high until hot. Once hot enough that a pinch of flour sizzles immediately when added, add the fillets, coated sides down. Cook 4 to 6 minutes on the first side, or until golden brown and crispy. Flip; cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; immediately season with salt and pepper.

Make the salsa verde & serve your dish:
6 Make the salsa verde & serve your dish:

While the catfish cooks, in a small bowl, combine the parsley, almonds, cheese, remaining garlic paste and the juice of the remaining lemon wedges; season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in enough olive oil to create a rough paste. Divide the finished pasta between 4 dishes. Top with the cooked catfish and a few spoonfuls of the salsa verde. Enjoy!

Tips from Home Chefs

1 Cook the pasta:

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Once boiling, add the pasta. Cook 14 to 17 minutes, or until tender. Thoroughly drain the cooked pasta. Rinse and wipe out the pot.

2 Prepare the ingredients:

While the pasta cooks, wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and finely chop the garlic; using the flat side of your knife, smash until it resembles a paste (or use a zester). Quarter and deseed the lemon. Finely chop the parsley leaves and stems. Finely chop the almonds and cheese.

Cook & drain the spinach:
3 Cook & drain the spinach:

In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Working in batches if necessary, add the spinach; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until wilted. Transfer to a strainer; hold or rest the strainer over a bowl. Using a spoon, press down on the cooked spinach to release as much liquid as possible; discard the liquid. Transfer the drained spinach to a cutting board and finely chop. Wipe out the pan.

4 Cook the peas & finish the pasta:

In the pot used to cook the pasta, combine the peas and ¼ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Heat to boiling on high; cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until bright green and the water has cooked off. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Add ¾ of the garlic paste; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the cooked pasta, chopped spinach, butter and the juice of 2 lemon wedges. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until well combined. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Coat & cook the catfish:
5 Coat & cook the catfish:

While the peas cook, place the flour on a plate. Pat the catfish dry with paper towels; season both sides with salt and pepper. Coat 1 side of each seasoned fillet in the flour (tapping off any excess). In the pan used to cook the spinach, heat a thin layer of oil on medium-high until hot. Once hot enough that a pinch of flour sizzles immediately when added, add the fillets, coated sides down. Cook 4 to 6 minutes on the first side, or until golden brown and crispy. Flip; cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; immediately season with salt and pepper.

6 Make the salsa verde & serve your dish:

While the catfish cooks, in a small bowl, combine the parsley, almonds, cheese, remaining garlic paste and the juice of the remaining lemon wedges; season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in enough olive oil to create a rough paste. Divide the finished pasta between 4 dishes. Top with the cooked catfish and a few spoonfuls of the salsa verde. Enjoy!

Make the salsa verde & serve your dish:
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