Roasted branzino with citrus and thyme
This super-easy recipe – branzini roasted with onions, thyme and citrus – is the centerpiece of a light and healthy Italian meal. As long as you don't mind filleting the fish at the table, it's great for entertaining, as you pop it in the oven and forget about it. Start with a salad, serve the fish with roasted potatoes, or whatever green vegetable feels right for the season, or nothing at all. The method is very forgiving, and roasting the fish on the bone makes it delicious. Want to make it for three or four people? Add another fish or two, a little more olive oil, citrus, onion and thyme. Don't sweat the amounts; it always turns out great. To serve, take the fillets off the bone, sprinkle with salt (I love flaky Maldon salt or fleur de sel with this), a few grinds of black pepper, and if you like, a drizzle of your best olive oil.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
1 medium yellow onion, cut in half through the stem and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 medium whole branzini (Mediterranean sea bass, or loup de mer, about 3/4 pound to 1 pound each)
12 - 16 branches of thyme
1 orange, sliced about 1/8 inch thick, or a little thicker
1 lime, sliced about 1/8 inch thick, or a little thicker
1 lemon, sliced about 1/8 thick, or a little thicker, plus additional lemon wedges for serving
Sea salt for seasoning the fish before roasting
Maldon salt or fleur de sel for serving (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into the bottom of a roasting pan or rectangular glass baking dish and scatter about a third of the onion (which will have fallen apart into pieces of rings) over the oil. Lay the fish on the onions, sprinkle some salt and a few grinds of black pepper inside their cavities, and tuck about a quarter of the thyme, a few onion ring pieces and an orange, lemon and lime slice inside each cavity. Generously salt and pepper the top of the fish, then scatter the rest of the onion, thyme and citrus on top of them.
Roast for about 35 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, including the citrus, thyme and onions. To serve, fillet the fish, lay it skin-side down on each plate with a few citrus slices and onions (plus fresh lemon wedges, if you like), and add Maldon salt, fleur de sel or table salt to taste, plus a few grinds of black pepper. Drizzle a little of your best olive oil on it too, if desired.