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Student Recipes

Cheap and easy cod with pesto recipe

In need of some brain food for those challenging lectures and hefty revision sessions? You can't go far wrong with this terrific cod traybake, served with a pesto crust, vegetables and potatoes.

fillets of cod on ice

Credit: hlphoto - Shutterstock

Fish can seem complicated to cook – we definitely didn't know how to cook cod fillets when we were making our kitchen debut! There's also a big misconception that nutritious food isn't appetising, but we're about to blow that myth right out of the water with our fantastic pesto-crusted cod recipe.

Cod fish is full of omega-3, which makes it great brain food. And as if that wasn't enough, it's super healthy too.

Cooking cod in the oven is definitely the simplest way to go in our eyes. And a healthy and delicious meal doesn't need to bust your budget or be complicated! This cod with pesto recipe as well as all of its accompaniments can be made for less than £7 and serves four people.

So, if you have 45 minutes to spare, why not treat yourself to a nutritious and satisfying dinner?

Don't get us wrong, we're not ones to shun classic baked beans on toast – here are seven delicious recipes that all make use of the humble student favourite.

Baked cod with pesto, vegetables and potatoes recipe


Serves: 4 | Costs: £5.00* (£1.25) | Time taken: 45 mins

  • 4 frozen cod fillets – you could opt for fresh but they're much more expensive (£1.74)
  • 150g of green pesto (£0.71)
  • 250g of cherry tomatoes (£0.50)
  • 1 large broccoli (£0.53)
  • 700g of baby potatoes (£0.69)
  • 175g of breadcrumbs – we'd recommend buying these as it saves time (£0.80)
  • A teaspoon of olive oil (£0.03).
This meal is so delicious we've added it to our monthly student meal prep guide!
green pesto basil leaf

Credit: Art Cook Studio – Shutterstock


  1. Before starting this recipe, make sure your cod fillets are fully defrosted. You can do this by placing them in a bowl in their original packaging and leaving this bowl at the bottom of the fridge. Cod typically takes around 68 hours to defrost per lb, so you may wish to defrost the night before you cook this dish. Alternatively, get yourself a defrost tray and it'll take a fraction of the time!
  2. Preheat your oven to 200°C, gas mark 6, or 180°C if you've got a fan oven.
  3. Peel your potatoes and chop them once down the middle (and once again if you want smaller potatoes).
  4. Toss them with the olive oil so they're thoroughly covered. We find the best way to do this is to bring them together with the oil in a double-handled colander and toss. This ensures your potatoes are thoroughly coated, but that there isn't too much excess oil.
  5. Arrange the potatoes on a baking tray so that they're equally spread apart. Top tip: to ensure no food sticks to the bottom of the tray, you should always 'grease' it. You can do this by dabbing a small amount of oil on some kitchen roll and wiping down the tray with it. Spraying on a small amount of oil and wiping this across the tray works too.
  6. Cook the potatoes for 10 minutes in your pre-heated oven. Make sure you don't forget about them during this next step!
  7. While the potatoes cook, mix together your breadcrumbs and pesto in a bowl. You may wish to season at this point with salt, pepper and whatever else you choose. Generously press this mixture on top of the cod fillets.
  8. After 10 minutes, remove your potatoes from the oven and turn them over. Make room on the same tray for the fish (it enhances flavour and saves on the washing up – win-win!) and place the tray back in the oven, bringing the temperature down to 180°C, gas mark 4, or 160°C for a fan-assisted oven.
  9. Cook for around 2025 minutes until both your fish and your potatoes are cooked through and are piping hot. Pay attention to the next two steps (numbers 10 and 11), as it'll need doing during the time that your potatoes and fish are cooking.
  10. After 10 minutes of cooking the potatoes and fish together, add your tomatoes to the tray. You can add these whole or chopped in half (we'd recommend the latter).
  11. And while the whole thing is cooking, you should boil your broccoli too so it's ready to serve. You should cook your broccoli for around 68 minutes in water that's already boiling. Top tip: to save time when boiling, you should always preheat your water in a kettle first. Add the boiling water to a pan on the heat and you're ready to boil anything. Waiting for cold water to boil can add a considerable amount to your cooking time.
  12. Bring your tray out of the oven and drain your broccoli. Then, bring together and serve. All there is to do now is to enjoy – you've earned it!

It's time to stop living off food that's not satisfying your body, or your tastebuds. This cod with pesto recipe is not only enough to keep you full for the whole evening, but it also tastes fantastic and is simple to make too.

Try this recipe out for yourself and see how easy it is to whip up a really great tasting dinner.

You've made one great meal, why not plan a whole week of delicacies? Take a look at our delectable student recipes page for food-inspo. 

* Prices are correct as of August 2020 (using, and prices as guidelines).


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