Roasted Branzino With Tomatoes and Olives

Time 50 minutes
Yields Serves 2 to 4
Roasted Branzino With Tomatoes and Olives
Tomatoes, olives and capers bathe two whole branzinos in this easy Roman dish.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times; prop styling by Kate Parisian)

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Pat the fish dry on both sides with a paper towel. Season lightly with salt and pepper inside and out. Stuff each fish with half the basil leaves and half the lemon slices.


Place a large skillet wide enough to fit both fish side by side over medium heat. Pour in ¼ cup olive oil, then carefully lay both fish in the oil. Cook, undisturbed, until the skin is browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a long, thin spatula, carefully flip each fish to the other side and cook until browned and crisp on the opposite side, 3 minutes more. Using the spatula, transfer the fish to a rimmed baking sheet.


Pour the remaining ¾ cup olive oil in the skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and chile flakes and cook, stirring, until the peppers soften slightly, about 3 minutes more. Pour in the wine, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the mixture has reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, olives and capers, reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce, stirring often, until the tomatoes have softened, about 5 minutes.


Turn off the heat, then carefully return the fish to the skillet, spooning some of the sauce over each fish. Cover with a lid or a sheet of foil and bake for 8 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until the fish is fully cooked through and the sauce is reduced and thick, 5 minutes more. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, drizzle with more olive oil and garnish with parsley before serving.

Adapted from Jonathan Melendez.