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Branzino with Sun-dried tomatoes pesto

Branzino with Sun-dried tomatoes pesto

Roasting a whole fish often flies under the radar, but trust me, it's a culinary gem worth exploring.This technique is refreshingly straightforward, requiring minimal time and effort. Plus, it's practically foolproof thanks to the natural protection provided by the skin and bones, ensuring the flesh stays succulent throughout the cooking process.

For this recipe, chef Luca Manfè has opted for branzino, a Mediterranean Sea Bass commonly found in Italian waters. However, feel free to substitute with Atlantic Sea Bass or even Red Snapper – both work beautifully. Branzino's petite size makes it ideal for serving whole; its bones are easily maneuverable, and its skin adds a delightful texture to each bite.

When selecting your whole fish, always inspect the eyes – they should be clear and bright. Additionally, the flesh and skin should glisten, devoid of any slimy coating.

To elevate the dish, I've crafted a sun-dried tomato pesto as a delectable accompaniment. This rendition deviates from the traditional basil pesto by incorporating the rich flavors of sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, pine nuts, and a hint of lemon. Unlike the classic recipe, I've omitted Parmigiano Reggiano to ensure the delicate flavor of the fish remains the star of the show.

With minimal fuss, this dish comes together effortlessly, yet its presentation boasts an undeniable wow factor at the dining table.


Difficulty: easy

Time of Preparation: 30 minutes

Time of Cooking: 45 minutes

Doses for: 4 people


2 whole branzino

1 jar (280g) sundried tomatoes

1 cup radicchio

1 cup olives

1 cup artichokes

1 cup cherry tomatoes

½ cup tomato juice

5 garlic cloves

½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs

½ cup pine nuts

1 shallot

2 rosemary sprigs

1 lemon

A few leaves of fresh basil

Umbria Extra Virgin olive oil


Black pepper


 1. Preheat the oven at 425F.

2. Place the fish in a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Season the fish with salt and pepper in both sides.

3. For each fish, insert into the cavity one garlic clove, 2 lemon wedges and 1 sprig of rosemary.

4. Prepare the pesto. Drain the sundried tomatoes from the oil and move them to a food processor along with one garlic clove, the lemon zest and the pine nuts. Blend until smooth.

5. Cover both fish sides facing up with the pesto and top with breadcrumbs for a crunchy finish.

6. Place the fish in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.

7. In the meantime, prepare the side dish.Strain the artichokes, olives and radicchio from the oil. Strain the cherry tomatoes from the tomato juice, but reserve ½ cup of the juice for the sauce.

8. Finely chop the shallot and 2 garlic cloves.

9. Warm up a large sauté pan on medium heat. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and add shallot and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.

10. Add the artichokes, radicchio and olives. Cook for 5 minutes.

11. Add the cherry tomatoes with the juice. Cook for 5 minutes more. Turn off the heat and add a few leaves of basil. Set aside.

12. Remove the fish from the oven.

13. For plating, you could use two large platters. Divide the vegetables on each plate and put the whole fish on top. Garnish with some fresh basil.

14. Buon appetito!

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