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Fish and Shellfish, Healthy Eating, Mains

Branzino in vegetable minestrone

Branzino in vegetable minestrone
Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

A fresh spirit is blowing through the Paris dining scene. During a week spent eating my way through updated bistros and beguiling little restaurants from some of the city's most lauded chefs, I found a new breed of restaurants that ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes | Serves 4
  • 4 (3-ounce) branzino or local sea bass fillets with the skin on
  • 6 cups (2 ounces) basil leaves, plus 4 leaves for stuffing the fish and a few for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup diced leeks ( 1/4 -inch dice)
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots ( 1/4 -inch dice)
  • 2 tablespoons diced fennel ( 1/4 -inch dice)
  • 1/3 cup diced artichoke heart ( 1/4 -inch dice)
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion, white part only
  • 1/3 cup diced celery ( 1/8 -inch dice)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup diced zucchini ( 1/4 -inch dice)
  • 1/4 cup haricots vert, cut into 1/4 -inch slices
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup cooked pennette or other small tube pasta
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup peeled, seeded and diced tomato ( 1/2 -inch dice)
  • 2 tablespoons diced Serrano ham ( 1/2 -inch dice)

Step 1Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut a slit into the thickest part of each fish fillet just large enough to insert a basil leaf in each. Season with salt and pepper. Put the fish, skin side up, on a baking sheet and set aside.

Step 2In a large saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-low heat. Sweat the leeks, carrots and fennel for 5 minutes, then add the artichoke, onions and celery and continue to cook the vegetables for 15 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Add the zucchini and the haricots vert; cook 1 minute. Stir in the garlic and pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn the heat off and keep covered so that it stays warm until ready to serve.

Step 3For the pistou, rinse 6 cups basil leaves under cold water. Pat them dry on paper towels and put them through a salad spinner to remove excess moisture. Put the basil leaves in a blender or food processor with the remaining one-half cup olive oil, garlic clove and salt to taste. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

Step 4Bake the fish fillets in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the fish tests done in the center; they should be firm to the touch. When ready to serve, divide the minestrone among four soup bowls and place one fish fillet in each bowl. Sprinkle around the diced tomato and ham. Spoon four small dollops of the pistou into each bowl. (You will have extra.) Thinly slice the remaining basil into a chiffonade and sprinkle over each fillet.

Note: From Joel Robuchon's La Table de Robuchon. Keep diced artichoke in lemon water to prevent discoloration until ready to use.


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