One Dish Baked Fish Marinara

By Ann Fulton

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A short list of basic ingredients comes together quickly in this wholesome meal that requires just one pan. A little leftover rice will create a heartier casserole, although serving it over pasta, a grain of choice, or some crusty bread works well too.


The start of the school year is always a busy time, but any parent will tell you that the holidays are also rather hectic, and the end of the school year is rather crazy, too.

Come to think of it, there never seems to be a time that isn’t busy!

Then again, one doesn’t need to be a parent to be pressed for time. In retirement, my parents often joke that they’re busier now than ever. The details of their days have simply changed.

For so many reasons, time is often particularly short around dinnertime. But we still need to eat, right?  

By no means is this recipe gourmet, but it’s another one of the staples I reach for when I’ve had a full day or just need to get dinner on the table quickly.

Perhaps it will come in handy on some of your busy nights, too.


LOVE the idea to use Spanish or yellow rice in this super quick meal for a little paella inspiration!

This speedy, one-dish recipe may be bolstered with rice (as in this photo) or made without (as shown in the photo at the top of the page).

Easy One Dish Baked Fish Marinara
A little leftover rice creates a heartier version of this healthy casserole, although serving it over pasta or your grain of choice--even with some crusty bread--works well, too. When thinking ahead, I cook rice the day before for an extra quick assembly of this all-in-one meal.

Yields 4 main dish servings.
  • 1 (5-ounce) bag of baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 4 white fish fillets (we love flounder; have also used cod and tilapia.)
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese (may substitute cheddar or your favorite cheese)
  • Optional: 3 cups cooked rice (from 1 cup uncooked), or hot cooked pasta or quinoa.
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and lightly oil a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. If using the rice, evenly distribute the cooked rice on the bottom of the baking dish. Layer all of the spinach on the bottom of the dish or over the rice. (I like to roughly chop for easier eating, although this is not critical.) Lay the fish fillets on top of the spinach, and lightly season the fish with kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour the marinara sauce evenly over the top, and sprinkle with the cheese.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes. In my oven, I cook for 15 minutes when cooking thinner fillets without the rice and about 20 minutes when cooking with rice and/or a slightly thicker fillet. When in doubt, cut into the fish. It should flake easily and look opaque throughout. If not, place in the oven for a few more minutes.
  4. If not baking with the rice, you may wish to serve over hot cooked pasta, quinoa, or couscous.
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  1. JAnne

    I made this fish last night and it was delicious. I used cod, spinach, marinara I had on hand, and a combination of cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. It turned out perfect. Thank you for your recipes!

  2. Allison

    This was absolutely delicious! Big win in my house – thank you. I would have never thought to use this combo. FYI I modified the white rice for Yellow/Spanish – it has a paella flavor and very yummy.

    1. Ann Post author

      Gotta love the big wins, Allison! I also love how you channeled paella with the use of Spanish rice. Great idea!

  3. Susan Ericson

    I made this last week one night when I was short on time and energy. I will be keeping the ingredients for this on hand. I used frozen flounder with excellent results. Great all in one meal that is so easy to put together.

    1. Ann Post author

      Great feedback regarding your success with frozen flounder, Susan. I like how it adds another level of convenience to an already easy dish. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Kristin G. Smith

    This is everything it claims to be! Fast, simple, delicious! I used 2 catfish fillets, cut into 2” chunks, reduced sauce to about 1 cup, and grated parm 1/2 cup, no rice. Baked in toaster over for 20 minutes — done. Thanks so much for sharing this yum recipe!

  5. Joanne

    We ate this for dinner last night and it was a delicious, easy, one dish meal. Thank you for the recipe. Will make again and again!