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Becchina’s Oven-Roasted Fish

Virgin Territory Becchinas Oven-Roasted Fish
Becchina's Oven-Roasted Fish. Excerpted from VIRGIN TERRITORY, © 2015 by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

This is a Sicilian recipe from Gianfranco Becchina, producer of fine Olio Verde oil, who is also a superb home cook. In his Castelvetrano kitchen, he roasts a whole cernia, or grouper, including the head and tail, but I’ve adapted his recipe to halibut or similar steaks. For 6 to 8 servings, 2 pounds of boneless fish should be adequate; with the bone in, count on another half pound—2½ pounds in all.


  • 2 pounds potatoes, preferably yellow Finns or Yukon gold, peeled
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably Sicilian
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 plump garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 or 3 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or use whole canned plum tomatoes, to make about ²⁄³ cup chopped
  • Crushed red chile pepper (optional)
  • ¼ cup salted capers, well rinsed
  • 4 halibut or other similar fish steaks, cut ¾ to 1 inch thick
  • 2 pounds small, slender zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
  • ½ cup pitted black olives, preferably salt-cured
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley

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  1. CUT the potatoes into chunks, about 1½ inches to a side, and drop into a pan of rapidly boiling water. Return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes; drain and set aside.
  2. ADD the ¼ cup oil to a sauté pan along with the onion and garlic and set over medium-low heat. Cook gently just until the vegetables soften, stirring occasionally. Raise the heat slightly, and add the wine and chopped tomatoes, along with a good pinch of crushed chile pepper, if you wish. Cook rapidly, stirring, until the wine has reduced by about one-third and the tomatoes are melting in the liquid. Remove from the heat and stir in the capers.
  3. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F.
  4. USE some of the remaining olive oil to coat the bottom and sides of a roasting pan large enough to hold all the fish in one layer. Set the fish in the pan and arrange the blanched potatoes and zucchini pieces around the sides. Scatter the olives among the potatoes and zucchini. Spoon the prepared onion-wine sauce over the fish and vegetables, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add the remaining oil in a thin thread over the top.
  5. TRANSFER the pan to the oven and bake for 10 minutes; using tongs, turn the potatoes and zucchini and return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender, by which time the fish should be cooked through. Test with a fork to make sure it flakes tenderly.
  6. TRANSFER the fish to a heated serving platter, arranging the vegetables and olives around it. Stir the lemon juice and minced parsley into the pan juices and spoon over the fish. Serve immediately.

Excerpted from VIRGIN TERRITORY: EXPLORING THE WORLD OF OLIVE OIL © 2015 by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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