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Sea Bass with Potatoes and Olives (Spigola al Forno)

Sea Bass with Potatoes and Olives (Spigola al Forno)
Marjoram is an herb that is common in Ligurian cooking. Similar to oregano, although more delicate and with a hint of citrus, fresh marjoram is used in stuffings, sauces and marinades for both fish and meat. It is a perennial with small green to golden leaves and tiny white or pale pink flowers in summer. Striped bass and red snapper are also delicious prepared this way.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sea bass, each 1 1/2 to 2 lb., cleaned with
      heads and tails intact
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh marjoram
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 lemon slices
  • 2 lb. waxy boiling potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup Gaeta or other Mediterranean-style black
      olives

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 450°F.

Rinse the fish and pat dry. Using a sharp, heavy knife, make slashes on both sides of each fish, cutting down to the bone. In a small bowl, stir together the parsley, marjoram, 4 Tbs. of the olive oil, the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Rub the mixture inside the cavities and over the outside of each fish. Tuck the lemon slices inside. Cover and let stand while you prepare the potatoes.

Rinse the potato slices under cold running water and pat dry. Place in a bowl and add the remaining 2 Tbs. oil, salt and pepper. Toss well, then spread the potatoes in a roasting pan large enough to hold them in a shallow layer.

Bake until the potatoes begin to brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Turn the potatoes, stir in the olives and place the fish on top. Continue to bake until the flesh is opaque when cut near the bone and the potatoes are tender, 20 to 30 minutes more.

Transfer the fish to a warmed platter. Surround with the potatoes and olives. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Italy, by Michele Scicolone (Time-Life Books, 1999).