Prepare to get happy! This simple pan-fried fish and risotto recipe is guaranteed to boost your mood to make Monday (or any other day) just a little bit brighter.

The latest issue of delicious Magazine (February 2013) explored the connection between food and mood, including recipes with lots of happiness inducing ingredients. Maybe over looked, but there is a real connection between food and your mood. What we eat can have such a profound effect on how we are feeling. Generally we all accept that our mood can impact how, what and why we eat. I recently had a friend say that a nightly dairy milk bar was the only think getting her through the day… However, craving chocolate when stressed may be better understood knowing that chocolate contains traces of phenylethylamine, a chemical similar to amphetamine, which helps trigger the release of endorphins. Yes that does mean you can actually say you are eating chocolate for health reasons!

So what are the happy ingredients of this meal?

Broccoli has folic acid and B vitamins that help produce brain chemicals that affect mood.
Walnuts are brain food an excellent source of omega 3 fats that help your brain work happy.
The fish is not only rich in omega 3 fats, but also selenium, B vitamins, and iron.
Parmesan helps produce serotonin aka nature’s prozac.

And really a creamy risotto will make just about everyone happy!

The original recipe served the fish with the pesto as a complete meal, which is healthy, but a little odd to me and I knew it wouldn’t go over so well with my dear husband. Yup all happiness factors would be lost if he looked down at a plate of pesto and fish.  In thinking about what I could serve this with I had a mini-stroke of genius – lemon risotto! Thinking back I’m not sure I’d ever eaten lemon risotto, but it seemed like a brilliant combination and just the side dish to kick up the happy factor. My hopes were momentarily dashed when my Italian cooking bible The Silver Spoon didn’t have a recipe, but thankfully everyone’s favorite food blog smitten kitchen came to my rescue with this delightful posting of lemon risotto. This is an excellent recipe and definitely on my make again list. It is really versatile, as a starter, side or main there is a lot to be said for this simple risotto.

As for the details of my recipe…

I pan-fried the fish by simply coating the fish (one fillet of white fish per person) in seasoned flour. I seasoned the flour with a tarragon-shallot blendfrom Silk Road Spice Merchant that consists of: shallots, parsley, lemon peel, black pepper, tarragon, garlic.  Add butter to your fry pan over med-high heat, once heated add fish and fry each side 2-3 minutes.

The recipe for the pesto is below.

Did the folic acid, B vitamins, omega 3 and serotonin boost our mood? Hard to say 😉 But it was a delicious meal that was satisfying enough for a chilly winter night, while being fresh and bright to remind us Spring has to arrive eventually…

If you are short on time, or just don’t fancy making a risotto during the week, the fish and pesto could also be served with brown rice or boiled mini potatoes.

Left-over tip: Mix pesto with pasta and canned tuna for an easy pasta salad lunch to brighten your work day



  • 1.5 cups blanched broccoli, cooled
  • ¼ cup mixed toasted walnuts & almonds
  • ¼ cup, plusplus
  • garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juicelemon zest
  • ⅓ cup olive oil

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