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Fish with Olives, Pine Nuts, Basil and Wine

The bright fruit and moderately rich texture of a French Chardonnay harmonize magnificently with this Mediterranean dish. Search for a wine with a pungency similar to that of the olives and enough assertiveness to balance with the basil. If artichokes are in season, 2 artichoke hearts, steamed, sliced and sautéed in olive oil, can be added with the olives. The same wine can still be served. Dependable: French Chardonnay. Daring: bright Italian white, such as Soave.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 4 firm white fish fillets, such as snapper,
      rock cod, flounder, sea bass, halibut,
      swordfish or tilapia, each 6 to 7 oz.
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. finely minced garlic
  • 5 Tbs. fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Mediterranean-style green and/or black
      olives, pitted if desired

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until they take on color and are fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.

Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish in which they fit in a single layer. In a small bowl, stir together 3 Tbs. of the olive oil and the wine. Pour over the fish fillets. Top with half of the garlic and half of the basil, and then distribute the olives around the fillets. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake until the fish is opaque throughout when pierced with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. The timing will depend upon the thickness of the fillets. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the fillets to warmed individual plates.

Pour the pan juices, olives and reserved pine nuts into a small sauté pan and set over medium heat. Swirl in the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and the remaining garlic and basil. When warm and fragrant, spoon over the fish. Serve immediately.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Food & Wine Pairing, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1999).