IF YOU’RE NOT A FISH PERSON–more importantly, if your kids aren’t–this dish is for you. Tender and mild, the fish fillets simply roast under a bed of thinly sliced potatoes slathered with olive oil plus fresh rosemary and lemon. The flavors are subtle yet the dish feels hearty. Decidedly not fishy. In fact, Phoebe kept making one request during this meal: “more meat?”
The first time we had fish prepared this way was during lunch at the home of a friend’s former nanny. Last spring Paul, Phoebe and I joined Molly, Giuseppe and their daughter Sabina for a beautiful meal at Elena’s house in Nettuno, a pretty little town near the sea. In her late eighties, Giuseppe’s tata is a spry little lady who still cooks a mean lunch for a party of 5 (and two halves).
First there were olives and salami. Then bread. Then handmade pasta with fresh shellfish. When the fish course arrived, I was already full. A bulging stomach however, was no reason to skip this deliciousness, plus I was super pregnant which gave me an excuse to indulge. Sort of. Even Paul who usually describes his taste for fish like this, “if there’s anything else on the menu I’ll order that first”, loved it. She also managed to get both toddlers to eat tons of baked artichokes. She’s basically amazing. As they say, this wasn’t her first rodeo. Well, they would say that if they had rodeos here, but back to the fish.
Paul ordered a similar dish again this weekend at a restaurant near our place in Rome…and it was wonderful again.
ROASTED FISH WITH POTATOES (Pesce e Patate al Forno)
Use a pretty dish, one that you can serve right from the oven to the table
Thinly spliced potatoes are essential; if they’re too thick the dish won’t bake quickly or evenly enough. A mandolin works perfectly but if you’re not able to get them very thin, just parboil them ahead of time for 5 minutes and follow the rest of the recipe from there
- 1 pound of potatoes peeled and very thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds firm white fish fillet such as sole, bass, red snapper or mahi mahi
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse the fish and use a paper towel to gently dry. Lightly season both sides with salt and pepper.
In the baking pan you’ll be using to roast the fish, pour a dash of oil but add the potatoes first. Mix them around with your hands until they’re covered in oil. Move to the side and place the fish in the center. Drizzle with oil. Rearrange the potatoes in a thin layer on top of the fish and over the sides. Pour the rest of the olive oil, rosemary, lemon and enough salt and pepper to lightly coat the potatoes.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are roasted and the fish is cooked through.