Branzino Fillets with Green Olive and Fennel Tapenade Recipe | Pamela Salzman & Recipes Skip to content

Branzino Fillets with Green Olive and Fennel Tapenade Recipe

Happy almost-Mother’s Day and almost-graduation and Holy Communion and there’s a lot happening right now! I don’t know about you, but I tend to entertain more in the spring and summer and I am always looking for new recipes since I tend to have the same people over again and again.  Because my husband and I tend to lean towards a plant-based + fish diet, I always serve fish when I have guests.  Branzino fillets are one of my go-to’s because they cook super quick and they have a mild flavor. I usually serve them with a simple relish or sauce and that’s an easy entree!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Mediterranean flavors which appeal to a lot of people;
  • Looks impressive but it’s really easy;
  • Fast enough for a weeknight meal but elegant enough for a dinner party;
  • Healthy and light;
  • It’s SIBO-friendly because it’s adapted from Phoebe Lapine’s book, SIBO Made Simple.

Branzino with Green Olive and Fennel Tapenade Ingredients

  • Green olives: I love olives! Look for already pitted olives to make things easier. 
  • Fennel: has a licorice flavor. Can be eaten raw or cooked. I usually like to save some of the fennel tops/fronds (if yours comes with it) to make homemade stock or garnish the platter with the cooked dish. 
  • Shallot: is milder than regular onions. It’s also great to use when you only need a small amount of onion in a recipe without having to cut open an entire onion. 
  • Parsley: I prefer flat-leaf parsley over curly parsley. It adds a nice freshness in this recipe. 
  • Lemon juice: use freshly squeezed lemon juice, not the juice sold in bottles from concentrate. 
  • Olive oil: Look for an unrefined olive oil for best flavor. 
  • Branzino: is a mild flavored fish that is grown in the Mediterranean. It’s not wild, but according to SeafoodWatch.org, it’s considered a safe fish to eat. If you can only find whole branzino and have access to a fishmonger, you can ask them to filet the fish for you. One whole fish will yield two fillets.  

How to Make Branzino with Green Olive and Fennel Tapenade

  1. Place an oven rack 5-6 inches from the broiler. Preheat the broiler. If your oven gives you the option of high or low, choose high. 
  2. In a food processor, pulse together the olives, fennel, shallot, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil until finely chopped or chop everything by hand and combine in a bowl. 
  3. Rinse the fish fillets in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the fish fillets on a baking sheet. Lightly grease the flesh side of the fillet and lightly season with salt and pepper. Flip over, and grease and season the skin side. Leave skin side UP. 
  4. Broil for 3 minutes or until fish is flaky and cooked through and the skin is starting to crisp. Serve immediately with the tapenade spooned on top or on the side. Extra tapenade can be served with cheese and crackers or on roasted vegetables, such as cauliflower or eggplant. 

Tips for Making Branzino with Green Olive and Fennel Tapenade

  • Pat fish dry: this is important when browning any piece of protein. 
  • Make sure oven rack is set to the right position. If the rack is positioned too low from the heat source, you won’t get any charring. If it’s too close to the heat source, the fish will cook faster or burn.
  • The olive and fennel tapenade can be made a few days in advance. 
  • You can also spoon this on thicker pieces of fish like salmon or halibut and bake it in the oven. See notes at the bottom of the recipe for that version – delicious too!

Substitutions for Branzino with Green Olive and Fennel Tapenade

  • Branzino: use a thicker fillet such as salmon or halibut. Lightly grease the fish and season with salt and pepper. Spread tapenade on top of the fish and bake in a 400-degree oven for 8-10 minutes depending on thickness of the fish. If the fish is thicker than 1 inch, you may need a few more minutes. Cauliflower steaks would be a nice plant-based sub. 
  • Olives: capers, but not a whole cup of capers. I would sub in 1/4 cup + something briny like jarred hearts of palm;
  • Fennel: celery

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Branzino Fillets with Green Olive and Fennel Tapenade
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pitted green olives (any kind you like such as Castelvetrano)
  • ½ medium-size fennel bulb, rough chopped
  • ½ small shallot, rough chopped
  • ⅓ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from ½ lemon)
  • ¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the fish
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 (4 to 6-ounce) skin-on branzino fillets (you can use salmon, halibut or cod - see notes for a a thicker fillet version)
Instructions
  1. Place an oven rack 5-6 inches from the broiler. Preheat the broiler. If your oven gives you the option of high or low, choose high.
  2. In a food processor, pulse together the olives, fennel, shallot, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil until finely chopped or chop everything by hand and combine in a bowl.
  3. Rinse the fish fillets in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the fish fillets on a baking sheet. Lightly grease the flesh side of the fillet and lightly season with salt and pepper. Flip over, and grease and season the skin side. Leave skin side UP.
  4. Broil for 3 minutes or until fish is flaky and cooked through and the skin is starting to crisp. Serve immediately with the tapenade spooned on top or on the side. Extra tapenade can be served with cheese and crackers or on roasted vegetables, such as cauliflower or eggplant.
Notes
Phoebe's recipe in the book uses a thicker fillet such as salmon or halibut. Lightly grease the fish and season with salt and pepper. Spread tapenade on top of the fish and bake in a 400-degree oven for 8-10 minutes depending on thickness of the fish. If the fish is thicker than 1 inch, you may need a few more minutes.

 

 

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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