Roasted Branzino with Herbed Farro
Branzino, also known as Mediterranean sea bass, is low in fat but has a lovely buttery flavor and silky texture. It is delicious simply roasted with lemon and herbs.
- 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz./330 g) farro, rinsed and drained
- 4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l) chicken stock
- 2 lemons
- 6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and drizzling
- 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup (1/3 oz./10 g) finely chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, mint, parsley and thyme
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 whole branzino, about 1 lb. (500 g) each, cleaned and gutted
- 8 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the farro and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover and cook until the farro is tender but still pleasantly chewy, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Preheat an oven to 450°F (230°C).
Zest the lemons and reserve the fruit. In a large fry pan, heat 2 Tbs. of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, chopped herbs and half of the lemon zest and sauté until the onion is softened. Add the drained farro, 1 tsp. salt and a generous grinding of pepper and stir to mix well. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the farro is heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining zest. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
Cut the reserved lemons into 20 thin slices. Season the cavity and both sides of each fish with salt and pepper. Lightly oil a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the fish on the pan. Put 2 lemon slices and a parsley sprig in each cavity. Lay 3 lemon slices along the top of each fish and finish with another parsley sprig. Drizzle each fish with 1 Tbs. olive oil.
Roast until sizzling and lightly golden on top, 10 to 15 minutes. The flesh should be flaky and white, but still moist. Spoon the farro onto a large platter and top with the roasted branzino. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti (Weldon Owen, 2011)